SECRETS, STORIES and SONGS – Dave Cousins (Witchwood Media Limited)

For those of us lucky enough to have experienced the late 60’s and early 70’s music circuit, we probably enjoyed the most fruitful period of British ‘folk’ music. Personally speaking those days were peppered with the delights of my first foray into the art of the folk-rock genre including bands such as the traditionally rooted Fairport Convention/Steeleye Span and the occasional banner waving contemporary excursions of The Strawbs. At the time, I may have been more enamoured by the buoyant, flashy instrumental dexterity of Steeleye and the JSD Band but it was Cousins lyrics that made me aware that words were every bit (if not more) important to the construction of the finished product. Following a career spanning some forty plus years and twenty-seven albums to his credit Dave produced some of the best lyrics (at least in my opinion) to enter ‘folk’ legend and far beyond. Heathen that I am, I suppose I’m the kind of bloke that appreciates his lyrics to scan in four lines followed by a good chorus but in the case of Cousins (and Cat Stevens) I’ll make an exception. For me, it all started with the “Dragonfly” album and the decidedly weird but wonderful track “Poor Jimmy Wilson”… a song of bullying that leaves the listener guessing the fate of this tragic character. Perhaps, on reflection, the story is an uncomfortable read but at least it makes you think. The book itself is an attractively packaged tome housing two hundred and twenty one songs taking the reader on a chronological tour through Dave’s career to date. By re-treading his steps with sound bites and anecdotes from the early days of Sandy Denny’s involvement with the band (The Strawbs) through to the current day, the content proves a fascinating and (at times) grin-inducing read. Of course, the nice thing about putting cathartic pen to paper is that you can reveal as much…or as little… as you want in the full-on glare of a public who were originally only privy to your inner most thoughts by way of aural rendition. So, here we have Dave’s words, eloquently displayed with lyrics and stories side by side in an easy to read presentation with helpful notes on the guitar tunings he employed and the bonus of a ‘spoken word’ CD featuring the well-rounded vowels of the man himself. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a lot of reminiscing to catch up on.