I had never heard of Jackie Leven, who died of cancer today at 61, let alone heard a lick of his music until a few years ago, when KingEd turned me onto Control, an obscure 1975 album he released under the name John St. Field. KingEd and I listened to it all the way through, leaning forward and grinning at all the right licks. The next day I downloaded the whole thing off eMusic. I can’t speak for Ed, but I never downloaded another song by the guy. That one album was surprise enough, straddling very English hippy-dippy folk and pub rock. It’s nice to find some oddball album and simply enjoy its oddball pleasures.
I tried to contact Leven a couple of years ago for a chat with the Hall, but I never heard back from him. That was cool. Who was I, a guy who never bought more than a single record by an artist he’d never heard before, wanting to drag him into our scene? Like so many who have and who will die, he led an interesting life with unexpected twists and turns. There’s still music to be explored, rock knowledge to be explored. For instance, I didn’t know until reading his obit that he did a duet on “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” with my man David Thomas. I also learned, by reading his obit, that we shared the same birthday. See how this stuff can all make a little sense? I’m glad I happened across Jackie Leven and that one album’s worth of songs.