The Enigma of Nic Jones - Return of Britain's Lost Folk Hero


The Enigma of Nic Jones - Return of Britain's Lost Folk Hero

Documentary following the return to performing of musician Nic Jones, whose career was cut short after a car crash broke almost every bone in his body and caused brain damage.


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Transcript


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Nic Jones is a legendary figure in British music.

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His 1980 album Penguin Eggs is regarded as one of the best

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acoustic records ever produced

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Unfortunately, it was to be his last.

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I was at a Virgin Megastore in Birmingham

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and this record came on - I had never heard anything like it.

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And I got home and absolutely loved it.

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But if I had known it was folk music, I probably wouldn't have bought it.

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It's a really great album to hear as your first folk album.

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In fact, the problem with Penguin Eggs,

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it sets the bar rather high for the rest of your life.

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The Observer, a few years ago,

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had a poll about the greatest records of all time

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Number 78 was Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones.

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Number 80 was Station to Station by David Bowie.

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At number 79 was Penguin Eggs by Nic Jones.

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There is no doubt that Nic Jones was headed for international greatness,

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but his career was about to suffer a severe setback.

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CAR HORN BEEPS

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# Sally where are you going that you do look so gay...? #

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He came home and said, "Oh, it's a great car."

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A year old, I think it was, this Volkswagen - immaculate.

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Took me up to the showroom to sign off the papers

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and all this sort of thing,

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and I took one look at it and took an instant dislike to it.

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Nic was a busy artist, playing to sell out audiences

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with his unique guitar and fiddle playing.

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He had to drive all over Britain.

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But it all ended one night in a near fatal crash,

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which would change his life forever.

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Nic's new car collided with a brick lorry.

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Almost every bone in his body was broken.

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With serious neurological damage,

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it was thought he would never perform again.

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While Nic still had an unquenchable desire to communicate

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through his music,

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his long suffering family tried to rebuild their lives around him.

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The accident happened when...

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When I was five.

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So, the only things I really remember are just vague images,

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and it was nothing to do with playing or singing,

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and one of them was remembering him

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being able to kick a football really, really high.

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And the other one was he could throw a Frisbee,

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and it was a white Frisbee,

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and I remember it cos it had little red and blue in the centre,

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and he could throw it up in the air and make it come back to him.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

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please welcome a legend in his own lifetime, Nic Jones.

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APPLAUSE

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Last summer, Nic emerged from obscurity and returned to the stage.

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For many in this audience,

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Penguin Eggs is the only evidence they have of his legendary status.

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This is the story of Nic's determination to sing again.

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The first time I met him, I didn't even know he was Nic Jones.

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And I was telling him what to do, telling him what chords to play.

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I was sort of saying, "Look, you can do what you like,

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"but I'm going to go to this chord here."

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And this guy was going, "Yeah, we could do that."

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And it was only that evening that somebody said,

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"Oh, you were getting on well with Nic Jones this afternoon."

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I had no idea who he was.

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When I used to do DJing and I'd play pop records at the time,

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but I'd just put that on.

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It felt as if it was just part of the stuff to me.

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It wasn't like, "Oh, this is some weird bit.

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"Now you're going to have a bit of folk."

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This was really sort of cutting stuff to me.

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Nic Jones' "cutting stuff" crossed musical boundaries and has become

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an inspiration to young acoustic guitar players the world over.

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I grew up with a complete set of Nic Jones records.

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From the time I started playing guitar, when I was 11 or 12,

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my dad dug out the vinyl and said,

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"This is what you want to listen to. This is what you want to play."

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Recorded pretty much live over a couple of days

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in-between his busy touring schedule,

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Nic Jones' Penguin Eggs became an instant classic.

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It was essentially a folk record but it continues to resonate with

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a much wider audience than anyone could have imagined.

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# Your jacket shall be blue

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# And you'll see that seaport town called Canadee-i-o... #

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Hang on a second, Nic. That's going great.

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It's early summer, 2012.

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Nic Jones has assembled a trio to rehearse for his upcoming concerts.

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The new arrangements they are working on will have to

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satisfy the fans eager to hear Nic's iconic repertoire again.

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Together, the Nic Jones trio will try to uncover

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the essence of Nic's music.

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Part of Nic's musical DNA was formed in his childhood

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when he heard singers like Ray Charles on the radio.

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# ..jacket shall by blue... #

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And like many other teenagers in the '60s, he was inspired to pick up

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the guitar by one of the forefathers of British rock and roll.

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I wanted to be Hank Marvin of The Shadows.

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And there's a chap who I knew at school, Nigel Patterson he was,

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and he asked me if I'd join The Halliard

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so I bought an acoustic guitar.

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All the while, I still wanted to be Hank Marvin.

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When we were at school, he was the only friend I had

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when I was being really, really badly bullied.

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Nic said, "It's about time you left Nigel alone."

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A second afterwards, I can remember seeing Nic literally spitting

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broken teeth out onto the floor.

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Everybody else was absolutely terrified of this person -

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they wouldn't go near him -

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but Nic stood up for me.

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Dave Moran was the driving force and he had this little trio.

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Little trio? Had this trio

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and that was the first I knew of Nic.

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We rehearsed with him every other day

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cos I think he was a lifeguard

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at the swimming pool,

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so he had a lot of free time.

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We began to acquire a reputation within Essex

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and that started to spread,

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and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hold down a day job

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and do the gigs at night.

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We were doing barmy things like driving to Mansfield

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and back in one night,

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and getting back at five o'clock in the morning,

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expecting to get up and go to work.

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We had this glorious boom time in the 1960s

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where people were young and they were energetic,

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and the audience and the performers and the club organisers were all

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the same age - in their late teens and early 20s -

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and you get that kind of youthful energy.

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By the mid 1970s, it had split really very widely.

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There were clubs which considered themselves to be proper

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traditional folk clubs

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where you weren't even allowed to take guitars in, in some cases.

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They were very, very hard line.

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# And did those feet in ancient time

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# Walk up on England's mountains... #

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I wanted to play traditional English music on guitar

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and there are no role models.

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What there are, one or two fiddle players,

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but there's melodeon players and concertina players,

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so what I wanted to do was to try and...

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..steal from them where I could.

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# And did the Countenance Divine...? #

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The main players on the folk scene of that late '60s began to

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seek the true archaeology of Britain's early popular culture.

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In the library of Cecil Sharp House in north London,

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they found the broadsheets and songs of ordinary people,

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and hit on a rich seem of material.

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# Among these dark Satanic Mills... #

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It was the only place to come.

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In Cecil Sharp House, we have the originals of these manuscripts

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and these field recordings,

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and you can actually hear and see

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what those authentic voices were.

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# ..she was in her tender care... #

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And I think that's what the people like Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins

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and Nic were looking for.

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# ..she loved him well... #

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I've often like the lyric side of songs rather than the tunes.

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And the lyrics...

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There's a lot of people that don't listen to the lyrics.

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# ..but she longed to see... #

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Actually, one of the reasons why a lot of these songs survive is

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because the life within them doesn't change.

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Love, sex, death, trickery, wars - all those things -

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they're all there.

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There was nowhere it didn't go -

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incest, jealousy, murder, betrayal, just plain happiness, sex -

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just everything.

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It went everywhere and, as Bob Copper used to say,

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"Folk music is the music that was there before music was invented."

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# Oh dear, rue the day I ever married... #

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With Joe Jones playing guitar, father and son are trying to

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reacquaint themselves with the songs that Nic played when he went solo.

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# Weeping and wailing and rocking the cradle

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# And rocking a baby...

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# That's none of my own... #

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BOTH LAUGH

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The Halliard would do songs about Napoleon and those sort of people,

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and he suddenly realised that he's an Essex boy

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and he had no relevance to Napoleon.

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He said, "Look, I never knew Napoleon -

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"I don't know what he was like."

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By 1968, the Halliard were splitting up

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and Nic's eclectic musical tastes would soon be given free reign.

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When you're living cheek by jowl with two other guys for that

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length of time...

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We'd just had enough of each other.

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It was a terrible, terrible shame.

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And when we broke up, I lost all contact with him.

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I actually didn't see him...

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during the whole of his solo career.

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The Halliard broke up and he was out on the road on his own,

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and was doing gigs around South Yorkshire, around Rotherham.

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And there was a lass who ran a club there and she said,

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"Have you heard Nic?" I said, "Well, I know him from the Halliard."

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And she played me some of his stuff.

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# There were seven gypsies and all in a row

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# And they sang neat and... #

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His playing was much more poised, it was much more relaxed.

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He had a particular swing about his playing

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that developed in a really interesting way.

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Of course, he was a beautiful singer.

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He had a big range.

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He could really push himself at the top and down the bottom.

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He was...

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He was good.

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# The servant's down on his knees and said... #

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He did the research, like everybody else, at Cecil Sharp House,

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pouring over the old books,

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getting the stories and the tunes and the songs,

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but he had no compunction about changing them around.

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I wanted to be a contemporary guitarist rather than

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a traditional guitarist.

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I like to sing songs about now, not about then.

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# But she longed to see that seaport town... #

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Nic took these ancient songs

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and breathed new life into their melodies,

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making them palatable to a much wider audience.

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He was finding the bones of songs and rewriting them,

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and turning them into something of his own.

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Filling in holes in the lyrics, or taking bits from here

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and there and putting them together.

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And, in an essence, turning them into...new songs.

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I actually got quite irritated with him one of the times

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cos he'd pick up a book, he'd just look at it and play the guitar,

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sing a few words, read the music.

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And I thought, "What a fantastic accompaniment that is."

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And he'd say, "No. I'll have to do more with that."

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And he was... You had to stop him.

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When you've got...particularly Penguin Eggs on,

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people go, "What's this?" And they are surprised they don't know it.

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But what is interesting over the years is running into other people

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that already know about his stuff,

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like John Hegley, for example, the poet and comedian.

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I was at John Hegley's flat once

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and some tracks from Penguin Eggs came on that he's just put on,

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and it was so great to meet someone that knew about it.

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You do feel a bit lonely.

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# Buchan, it's bonny, oh and there lives my love

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# My heart it lies on him

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# It will not remove, remove... #

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I can never work out where it's supposed to be going.

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# Buchan, it's bonny, oh and there lives my love

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# My heart it lies on him

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# It will not remove

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# It will not remove

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# Will not remove. #

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Yeah. I'll leave it to Nic Jones to do it.

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# It will not remove

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# It will not remove

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# For all that I have done

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# Never will I forget my love... #

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Well, it's about arranged marriage and...

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Jeanie, the woman in the song, is saying, "I don't want this."

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And there's no way out, really, for her.

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And...

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She just dies of a broken heart for the one she truly loves...

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and then he comes home to find her.

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# Never will I forget my love Annachie

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# Down came her father and he's standing on the floor

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# Saying, Jeannie... #

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When you go down to Cecil Sharp House and

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when you go through the library and you're confronted with these huge

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tons of unintelligible dialect stuff,

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whether it be Old English or Old Scots dialect,

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all that kind of stuff, it can seem like a bit of a task to...

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To bring that out of the page and actually bring it alive.

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Now, I think there are very few people who communicate that

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as well as somebody like Nic.

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And that has certainly been passed on to somebody like Jim Moray

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who is able to communicate a massive story like that.

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# Sally where are you going that you do look so gay?

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# I know that I've not asked you to take a walk today

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# You have not asked me well indeed

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# It's a tiny cheek of you

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# Do you think that there are no more young chaps?

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# I've got a dozen or two... #

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I've taken so much directly, technically, from Nic

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in terms of actual things that I play,

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but also in terms of the spirit of it.

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# So young women take a warning from me

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# Never love a soldier or sit all on his knee... #

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A guitar is a beautiful instrument and, in normal tuning,

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it's an orchestra.

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And a guitar can do almost anything.

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A lot of songs in the British isles

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don't sit well with chord progressions. There's...

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There's a flexibility that's not there...

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with normal tuning, and that's its bottom string.

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That's mine. These little guitars love being tuned down that low.

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Nic needed a guitar that could cope

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with his unconventional tunings and English style.

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Roger Bucknall, his friend and master guitar maker,

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came up with the instruments he needed.

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When I met Nic I was making this,

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it's a small guitar but with a wide fingerboard,

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and it suited all the English players, particularly Nic,

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who wanted a bit more room on the fingerboard to

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get his fingers in to play individual notes rather than chords.

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There's a short-ish scale, so to get stretches when he needed.

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And then Nic had some sort of epiphany or crossroads moment.

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I think he sold his soul at some point

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and changed his guitar style quite a lot,

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and it came out on the Penguin Eggs album,

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and on that album, he used the Orsino.

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A cedar top and a mahogany back and sides,

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which is about the lightest combination you can get,

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so it's very resonant and very responsive.

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And it really suited Nic's style, which he was developing then,

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of sliding on the bass strings and playing the melody on the top.

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Nic always tuned a tone down anyway,

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so rather than being E, it was D to D,

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and he did that, he says, to avoid breaking strings.

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In actual fact, it was a rock and roll trick.

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It was used quite a lot, going down a semi tone.

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With this, it's going down even further than that to...

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To B flat, which is super low

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and it means that the guitar kind of...

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You can hear that it's...

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I'm getting buzzes. I'm getting this kind of...

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This kind of snappy sound quite readily.

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If you were doing that kind of thing in standard tuning,

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it would hurt and it wouldn't have the same kind of tone to it.

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But he developed a style to take account of the fact

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the strings were very slack, so playing it very gently,

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and with the flesh of his fingers rather than the nail,

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he learned a style of sliding up

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and down the strings without allowing the strings to buzz and rattle,

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which would have happened otherwise if he hadn't been quite so careful.

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It was...at the time, unique,

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and the only people that do it now are copying Nic's style,

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but it's still a fantastic style of playing.

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# I went unto my love's chamber door

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# Where I never had been before... #

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I was on YouTube and I was looking at a few traditional songs,

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and then this one with quite a few views came up.

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And, immediately, I just went, "That was so good."

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It was his guitar playing that got me,

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but he has a voice that I really appreciate because it's really true,

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and it's kind of...

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It just suits the traditional material so well

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and it made it sound cool, yet relevant.

0:21:050:21:08

# Just to let her know unto Flandyke Shore... #

0:21:100:21:16

One day, I stumbled on Flandyke Shore -

0:21:170:21:20

it was in the Folk Song Journal.

0:21:200:21:22

It was what you would call a fragment.

0:21:220:21:25

It was only three verses, but so poetic, so beautiful.

0:21:250:21:29

And sometimes, when you just have a few verses and lots missing,

0:21:290:21:34

you can fill in the gaps yourself.

0:21:340:21:36

But I just kind of put it away on the side - that was a big mistake

0:21:360:21:40

Because shortly after that I heard that Nic had recorded it,

0:21:400:21:45

so he had discovered that song as well,

0:21:450:21:48

and it was a discovery because it wasn't in an obvious book.

0:21:480:21:52

But, of course, it was wonderful, his version...did it all.

0:21:520:21:56

# There I saw a light springing from her clothes

0:21:570:22:04

# Springing from her clothes... #

0:22:040:22:08

I spoke to Dad quite a lot, mainly about inane things -

0:22:080:22:12

football, work that I wasn't actually doing. Sorry.

0:22:120:22:17

But, yeah, I think I rang him up and said,

0:22:170:22:19

"Have you heard of a guy called Nic Jones?"

0:22:190:22:22

And I think he just laughed and said,

0:22:220:22:24

"Yes, I've heard of Nic Jones - he's fantastic."

0:22:240:22:26

Well, you know, I laughed.

0:22:260:22:29

My first reaction was just to laugh because I'd not only met him,

0:22:290:22:32

I'd worked with him.

0:22:320:22:34

It was so nice that Blair discovered him by himself.

0:22:340:22:38

That it wasn't Dad saying, "You've got to go and listen to this guy

0:22:380:22:41

"because he was very important."

0:22:410:22:43

# On to fairing England's shore

0:22:450:22:48

# On to fairing England's shore

0:22:480:22:52

# Just where I thought that... #

0:22:520:22:55

But the accuracy in which he was playing,

0:22:560:22:59

and I think when I really appreciated that was when I could

0:22:590:23:03

go and have a little play on the guitar,

0:23:030:23:05

and I tried to work it out.

0:23:050:23:07

And it was literally like, woosh, straight over my head.

0:23:070:23:10

I'd been playing for quite a while and I still couldn't get it.

0:23:100:23:14

# The king sits in Dunfermline town... #

0:23:170:23:21

It was Nic's unique style of singing over his rhythmical

0:23:210:23:24

and percussive playing that made him so special.

0:23:240:23:27

He developed the almost ambidextrous ability to

0:23:280:23:31

sing across different bass and melody lines.

0:23:310:23:33

He would set up a really steady groove,

0:23:350:23:38

so it would be absolutely rocking along in a very English way indeed,

0:23:380:23:45

but then he'd move the voice all over the place.

0:23:450:23:48

# But the very next line that Patrick he read

0:23:480:23:51

# The salt tear blinded his eye

0:23:510:23:53

# Oh who is him that's done this deed?

0:23:530:23:55

# Told the king on me to send me out this time of year... #

0:23:550:23:58

It was actually better to try to separate

0:23:580:24:01

the singing from the guitar playing,

0:24:010:24:03

so that the guitar playing became automatic.

0:24:030:24:05

# I fear a... #

0:24:090:24:10

One way I learned to do this was to argue with my wife Julia.

0:24:100:24:14

I'd play the guitar and I'd talk to her,

0:24:140:24:17

and I'd talk at rhythm.

0:24:170:24:19

When you've got a song that's this long with eight million versus,

0:24:240:24:29

and a repeated melody,

0:24:290:24:31

anything you can do to hook the listener is a good thing to do.

0:24:310:24:36

And so, I think that moving...

0:24:360:24:38

Moving the vocal about on top of the accompaniment is very effective.

0:24:380:24:43

# Here I stand

0:24:480:24:50

# Lost in the wind... #

0:24:500:24:52

Nic has always had a broad pallet of interests that continue to

0:24:520:24:56

influence his music.

0:24:560:24:57

He listens to anything from The Eagles to Bob Marley.

0:24:590:25:02

At the moment, Radiohead are a favourite.

0:25:020:25:05

The main sort of music I like to listen was reggae.

0:25:070:25:12

I love reggae cos certain beats are different from the normal way.

0:25:120:25:16

We play one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four,

0:25:160:25:19

but the reggae was one, TWO, three, four, one, TWO, three, four,

0:25:190:25:22

one, TWO, three, four. Or one, two, THREE, four.

0:25:220:25:26

It was emphasised in a different place.

0:25:260:25:29

# So far away... #

0:25:290:25:32

The simple thing was that he got out more, musically and thinking wise,

0:25:320:25:37

than people who went to their local folk club every week

0:25:370:25:40

and didn't listen to anything else,

0:25:400:25:42

and didn't think very much about why they like the music.

0:25:420:25:44

He was a thinking man.

0:25:440:25:45

I mean, I guess that went with his chess playing

0:25:450:25:48

and stuff like that as well.

0:25:480:25:49

By the mid-'70s, Nic's albums were moving away from records that

0:25:570:26:01

simply represented his solo club performances.

0:26:010:26:04

When he made Noah's Ark Trap,

0:26:060:26:09

that's a moment...

0:26:090:26:11

I would say it's a moment in recording history, actually.

0:26:110:26:13

It's an important record, and Devil to a Stranger likewise.

0:26:150:26:19

He's absorbed everything he needed to absorb,

0:26:210:26:24

and he'd gone off and became his own guy.

0:26:240:26:28

And it was a massive jump, really quite impressive.

0:26:280:26:31

But that should be the goal for every musician, is to be yourself,

0:26:310:26:36

otherwise what's the point?

0:26:360:26:38

Nic's music had spread beyond Britain.

0:26:440:26:46

Singer-songwriters like American Anais Mitchell cite him

0:26:460:26:50

a major influence.

0:26:500:26:51

Even Bob Dylan covered Canadee-I-O

0:26:540:26:56

from Nic's iconic record Penguin Eggs.

0:26:560:26:59

Penguin Eggs is nine perfectly sequenced tracks.

0:27:030:27:07

Running at less than 45 minutes,

0:27:070:27:09

the record is a mixture of contemporary and traditional folk.

0:27:090:27:13

It remains one of Topic Records' bestsellers to this day.

0:27:130:27:16

It's a very good sleeve, actually for it

0:27:180:27:20

because it's not got a drawing on of anything.

0:27:200:27:22

It's not in a place.

0:27:220:27:24

It just sort of presents itself

0:27:240:27:26

and asks you to make of it what you will.

0:27:260:27:29

The combination of songs was magic.

0:27:290:27:32

It was just a great...great set of songs,

0:27:320:27:34

well played, well recorded.

0:27:340:27:36

The Humpback Whale song, I mean, it's just...

0:27:360:27:39

It's one of the most exciting recordings you ever hear, I think.

0:27:390:27:44

In Australia, they were kind of almost bitter about Nic,

0:27:500:27:53

Nic's performances, because Harry Robertson wrote them

0:27:530:27:56

and sang them as very gritty, bitter songs about the lifestyle

0:27:560:28:02

of the whalers, about the hardships they had.

0:28:020:28:06

And Nic's version of Humpback Whale was almost

0:28:060:28:09

seen as a glorification of it.

0:28:090:28:10

He sort of sang in this uplifting way.

0:28:100:28:12

# Oh you trawler men come on

0:28:120:28:17

# Get your snapper and your prawn

0:28:170:28:20

# For it's out of Ballina we'll sail... #

0:28:200:28:22

Until I had fallen deeply in love with the song and learned it,

0:28:220:28:26

and then I thought,

0:28:260:28:27

"What does it mean to be singing this whaling song?"

0:28:270:28:30

But, for me, it's a story

0:28:300:28:33

and it's a real human story about what these guys' lives were like.

0:28:330:28:37

# A harpoon whaling gun

0:28:390:28:41

# Oh you trawler men, come on

0:28:410:28:44

# Forget your snapper and your prawn... #

0:28:440:28:50

It's such an unusual subject matter

0:28:500:28:53

but it's dealt with in this very specific way.

0:28:530:28:56

You know, "A tractor for a whale winch."

0:28:560:28:59

# A tractor for a whale winch

0:28:590:29:01

# And the ships in old... #

0:29:010:29:04

"And the ships in old fair my." I love those old details.

0:29:040:29:08

# She'll whale in a fine old style

0:29:080:29:11

# Oh, you trawler men.... #

0:29:110:29:14

I think it's just the feeling of that recording that he made of that song,

0:29:140:29:18

it just kind of soars.

0:29:180:29:20

# For it's out of Ballina we'll sail

0:29:200:29:24

# Fishing for the humpback whale... #

0:29:240:29:27

I'm working on a collection of songs right now

0:29:290:29:32

and one of the songs that we're doing is Clyde Waters

0:29:320:29:36

or The Drowned Lovers and,

0:29:360:29:38

literally, the reason we're doing it is

0:29:380:29:40

because of the Nic Jones version on Unearthed.

0:29:400:29:43

I remember I had it on my iPod and I was jogging.

0:29:430:29:47

And I don't usually jog to folk music - it usually doesn't work.

0:29:470:29:51

But with Nic Jones, for some reason...

0:29:510:29:54

And that song came on and I thought,

0:29:540:29:55

"We've got to do this. We've got to record this one."

0:29:550:29:58

# Willie sits in his stable door

0:29:580:30:01

# And he's combing his coal black steed

0:30:010:30:04

# He's doubting on fair Margaret's love

0:30:040:30:07

# And his hear began to bleed... #

0:30:070:30:09

To hear a solo performer, if it's good, I think it really...

0:30:100:30:15

It reaches out and grabs you in an emotional way.

0:30:150:30:20

That kind of vulnerability really makes for a sort

0:30:200:30:25

of conversation between the audience and the performer.

0:30:250:30:29

If you want to earn a living being a performer,

0:30:320:30:34

you've got to fill a hole. And how do you fill a hole?

0:30:340:30:36

You make a big sound. How do you make a big sound?

0:30:360:30:39

You get a drummer...

0:30:390:30:41

and Stone Henge-size amps...

0:30:410:30:44

which then knocks on with the need to relook at your music.

0:30:440:30:50

He was relooking at his music but not with that intention.

0:30:500:30:54

He was in the communication business at a personal level

0:30:540:30:57

and I think that always shows. The way that he...

0:30:570:31:01

He sings and the sort of songs he chooses,

0:31:010:31:04

it shows that he's talking to you...

0:31:040:31:07

rather than you, out there, you folks.

0:31:070:31:10

My public.

0:31:100:31:12

One day in February, 1982, Nic drove the two-and-a-half hour journey

0:31:140:31:18

from his how near Cambridge to play a gig in Gloucester, Derbyshire.

0:31:180:31:22

His fee was £50, in those days, a worthwhile payday.

0:31:230:31:27

When I first started out, the life of a folk club performer was

0:31:470:31:50

still very much the same as it had been in the '60s and '70s.

0:31:500:31:54

That is, you get in your car with your instrument

0:31:540:31:56

and you drive to where you're going,

0:31:560:31:58

and you do your gig, and then go to the your B&B,

0:31:580:32:01

and then you get up the next day.

0:32:010:32:03

I think the service stations have got better.

0:32:030:32:05

I think...

0:32:060:32:08

Yeah. Without wanting to advertise one particular place over another,

0:32:080:32:12

you know, Marks & Spencer's Simply Food really did change my life.

0:32:120:32:16

He had some extremely long drives and pretty lonely.

0:32:200:32:26

I can see why he would phone me, and possibly other people,

0:32:260:32:30

and say, "I'm travelling around. Do you want to come?"

0:32:300:32:33

And it was great for me because he'd say,

0:32:330:32:36

"I've got a friend here who would like a floor spot."

0:32:360:32:39

No matter how bad I was, the organisers always said, "Yes."

0:32:390:32:43

Well, I was a huge fan of Nic and I was doing floor spots at the time.

0:32:460:32:50

And if you went to see Nic,

0:32:500:32:52

you could be sure there would be a good audience,

0:32:520:32:54

and I was trying to get established as well.

0:32:540:32:56

And there was three of us

0:32:560:32:58

who had these badges made by a leather makers at the time,

0:32:580:33:01

George Butterworth, and, basically, we did it to annoy Nic

0:33:010:33:04

because we knew it would.

0:33:040:33:06

# You maidens and widows I pray give attention... #

0:33:070:33:15

He was tall and dark and quite good looking,

0:33:150:33:20

and he was just good.

0:33:200:33:22

He just sort of had this aura about him.

0:33:220:33:25

# Well here's a maid in distraction who she's now going to wander... #

0:33:250:33:33

If we was on, folk clubs were full.

0:33:340:33:37

People were ticketing them.

0:33:370:33:40

He had a huge following. He was sort of almost a cult figure.

0:33:400:33:45

# Broken-hearted I'll wander

0:33:450:33:50

# For the loss of my lover

0:33:510:33:56

# He's the bonny light horseman in the wars he was slain... #

0:33:570:34:02

There was a lot of people here and it got very hot,

0:34:020:34:06

and I do remember we were getting Nic pints of water

0:34:060:34:09

to take on stage with him.

0:34:090:34:11

# And when he's mounted on the horseback

0:34:110:34:16

# Oh so gallant and brave... #

0:34:160:34:22

And Nic would do his two sets, and then he would sell some LPs,

0:34:220:34:26

pack up, load his car up and then go off.

0:34:260:34:31

And we helped him down the stairs with his stuff,

0:34:310:34:34

and then just waved him off and said, "Drive safely. See you next time."

0:34:340:34:38

# He's the bonny light horseman in the wars he was slain... #

0:34:380:34:48

I did the sort of classic folk club scene with Nancy Kerr.

0:34:480:34:52

Me and Nancy Kerry, just driving around, just the two of us.

0:34:520:34:55

We set off at midnight, got as far as Junction 34

0:34:570:35:02

and woke up still doing 90 miles an hour in the back of a Toyota.

0:35:020:35:09

I guess I was 19 when that happened and it certainly does pull you up.

0:35:090:35:14

My dad has always done it on the trains.

0:35:150:35:17

I have these visions of him

0:35:170:35:19

through the ages with different rucksacks on his back.

0:35:190:35:23

But, yeah, just him and his two guitars.

0:35:230:35:24

And he's never learned to drive, and I understand why.

0:35:240:35:28

I understand why he's never done that

0:35:280:35:30

cos it takes it out of you.

0:35:300:35:32

At least on the train you can do the crossword, watch the world go by.

0:35:320:35:36

# Shotover river

0:35:520:35:55

# Your gold it's waning... #

0:35:550:35:57

I think he decided that he needed to get home more often and...

0:35:580:36:05

So, it was trying to get home as often as possible,

0:36:050:36:09

I think that was why he did it.

0:36:090:36:11

CAR HORN BEEPS

0:36:160:36:17

At about two o'clock, the dog and I were up, restless.

0:36:200:36:25

Erm... And it was freezing cold

0:36:290:36:31

and I remember I had my dressing gown and Nic's,

0:36:310:36:35

and then the knock at the door came, which didn't surprise me at all.

0:36:350:36:39

I just knew then.

0:36:390:36:41

The car was a complete write off.

0:36:430:36:45

There was bits of the radio, apparently, in the boot and stuff.

0:36:450:36:49

So...

0:36:490:36:52

And, obviously, Nic was a complete and utter mess.

0:36:520:36:56

When Nic was unconscious, right from the outset,

0:36:560:37:01

even the very first visit, they said, "Just talk to him."

0:37:010:37:05

I made some tapes.

0:37:050:37:06

I made tapes of the children talking and singing to him,

0:37:060:37:09

even of the dog barking,

0:37:090:37:12

and then I asked people if they'd got any tapes

0:37:120:37:14

because we were terrible for having tapes and stuff in the house.

0:37:140:37:19

I mean, you know, he didn't even have his own record sort of thing.

0:37:190:37:23

So, people then started sending tapes to jog his memory,

0:37:230:37:26

music tapes, any tapes.

0:37:260:37:27

The first thing I remember was swear words.

0:37:340:37:37

With the nurses, they realised the F-ing and blinding,

0:37:370:37:40

they knew that I was coming back to life again.

0:37:400:37:43

You know like adolescents kind of like to swear?

0:37:430:37:46

And like to play and swear and see the reaction that they'll get.

0:37:460:37:51

Well, Nic seemed to be going through an awful lot of that at the time,

0:37:510:37:54

which was kind of embarrassing

0:37:540:37:56

when you were in the restaurant at the BBC and stuff,

0:37:560:38:00

and he's coming out with all these phrases and stuff.

0:38:000:38:04

But, yeah, that was the...

0:38:040:38:05

That was the first time that I realised he wouldn't be...

0:38:050:38:09

Wouldn't be quite the same Nic.

0:38:090:38:12

Shit.

0:38:120:38:14

I did care...

0:38:150:38:17

because...

0:38:170:38:19

..it's another voice that's gone.

0:38:210:38:23

It sort of heaps more responsibility on you.

0:38:300:38:33

You know, you've now got to pay attention, and try and get it right,

0:38:330:38:38

cos this is important stuff.

0:38:380:38:41

Erm...

0:38:410:38:43

I mean, it's only music -

0:38:430:38:45

ho-ho-ho -

0:38:450:38:46

but music's important.

0:38:460:38:49

At the age of 35, Nic began the long road to some kind of recovery.

0:38:520:38:57

Almost every bone in his body was broken.

0:38:580:39:01

Some of his teeth were found in his lungs

0:39:010:39:04

and he nearly lost the sight in his right eye.

0:39:040:39:07

His guitar, too, was almost beyond repair.

0:39:070:39:10

We sent it off to Roger Bucknall.

0:39:110:39:14

I don't know exactly what he did, but he replaced the bridge and the neck.

0:39:140:39:18

The neck was really badly broken

0:39:190:39:21

so I fitted a new neck onto the remains of the old one.

0:39:210:39:23

The sides were very badly smashed around here in particular.

0:39:230:39:26

But all that was crushed and collapsed.

0:39:260:39:28

The guitar had basically been crushed.

0:39:280:39:30

The neck had given in and the sides had collapsed in there.

0:39:300:39:34

But because he was a friend,

0:39:340:39:36

I wanted to get this guitar back to him so to start playing again.

0:39:360:39:40

And he phone me up after he got better, a year or 18 months later,

0:39:400:39:44

and he didn't remember me.

0:39:440:39:47

We didn't really give him any quarter.

0:39:470:39:48

I mean, people probably thought we were a bit hard with him

0:39:480:39:51

but we didn't allow him to wallow.

0:39:510:39:55

Well, everything was smashed...

0:39:550:39:57

apart from the spine. The spine was OK.

0:39:570:40:00

Shoulders were bust, elbows bust, wrists were bust

0:40:000:40:02

and my fingers were bust. Everything was bust,

0:40:020:40:04

so I had to relearn how to play a rhythm with that hand.

0:40:040:40:08

The left hand could do it but the right hand couldn't get it right.

0:40:080:40:12

I mean, he's going to play it no matter what.

0:40:200:40:23

Whether it sounds like the dog's dinner, he's going to play it

0:40:230:40:26

because he loves doing it. He gets frustrated with it,

0:40:260:40:28

you hear a few swear words coming down the corridor,

0:40:280:40:31

but he's going to play it anyway.

0:40:310:40:33

I came home one day and then, all of a sudden, I heard this...

0:40:400:40:45

sound and I thought, "Nic's suddenly got it back."

0:40:450:40:49

I went upstairs and it was Joe.

0:40:490:40:51

"When did you learn to play the guitar?"

0:40:510:40:53

Joe Jones learned to play the guitar at university.

0:40:550:40:58

At home in Skipton,

0:40:580:41:00

he works in IT and is a bass player in a spoof heavy metal band.

0:41:000:41:04

Cos I'm left-handed and Dad being right-handed,

0:41:040:41:06

I couldn't ever really play it properly.

0:41:060:41:08

But then when I was like, "I need another guitar.

0:41:080:41:10

"Tell you what we could do, we could get Dad's."

0:41:100:41:12

Swapped to a left-hander that was it.

0:41:120:41:14

It was like, "That's what we're doing."

0:41:140:41:16

Whether I need to or not, that's what's going to happen.

0:41:160:41:19

So, I was quite vehement in the fact that

0:41:190:41:21

I was going to get to play Dad's guitar.

0:41:210:41:24

Warwick Festival would be the first time that Nic's old guitar has been

0:41:270:41:30

played in front of an audience since the night of the accident.

0:41:300:41:34

I'll have it down a little bit more, Graham, please.

0:41:380:41:41

I'd like to be slightly back in relation to...

0:41:410:41:43

He was slightly forward because...

0:41:430:41:45

So I can see him easily without turning my head too much.

0:41:450:41:48

Belinda O'Hooley of critically acclaimed duo O'Hooley and Tidow

0:41:480:41:51

will accompany Nic and his son Joe.

0:41:510:41:54

Bearing in mind Joe has never played in front of an audience,

0:41:580:42:03

other than his friends' weddings,

0:42:030:42:05

and Nic hadn't sung solo, we were more nervous.

0:42:050:42:07

Well, all credit to Joe,

0:42:070:42:10

even though he was a bundle of nerves beforehand.

0:42:100:42:13

And Nic, he just takes it in his stride.

0:42:130:42:15

Because on the night, Nic just seems to go to a different level.

0:42:150:42:19

You hear him here and you think, "It's going to be awful",

0:42:190:42:22

and then he just rises to the occasion.

0:42:220:42:24

APPLAUSE

0:42:240:42:28

This is my son, Joe.

0:42:440:42:46

# There was seven yellow gypsies all in a row

0:43:060:43:09

# And they sang neat and bonny-O

0:43:090:43:12

# Sang so neat and they're so complete

0:43:120:43:17

# They stole the heart of a lady... #

0:43:170:43:21

Well, he really looks like Nic used to look...

0:43:310:43:35

and he's full of energy as well.

0:43:350:43:37

# He's ridden o'er the high, high hills

0:43:370:43:40

# Till he come to the morning

0:43:400:43:43

# And there he's found his own dear wife... #

0:43:430:43:46

Big nose, dark hair, bushy eyebrows, yeah, that about sums me

0:43:460:43:51

and my dad up from a physical point of view.

0:43:510:43:53

He's so good on the guitar and he plays so sensitively, I think,

0:43:590:44:05

but he's very modest.

0:44:050:44:07

He doesn't really rate himself

0:44:070:44:09

and he's much better than he thinks he is.

0:44:090:44:11

Obviously, listening to some of the stuff he played and thinking,

0:44:140:44:18

"What's he doing there?"

0:44:180:44:19

And then you suddenly realise, yeah, it's a lot more difficult than...

0:44:190:44:23

Than he makes it look and sound.

0:44:260:44:29

APPLAUSE

0:44:350:44:38

So, after his accident, he spent a lot of time in hospital.

0:44:440:44:48

Lovely place. Lovely place.

0:44:500:44:52

Some of that was obviously getting better and recuperating,

0:44:530:44:57

but the general feeling was that most of it was

0:44:570:44:59

because he quite liked the nurses.

0:44:590:45:02

They're angels. They're angels.

0:45:020:45:04

Are there any female nurses here tonight?

0:45:040:45:06

-AUDIENCE:

-Yeah.

-Yeah?

0:45:060:45:08

I'd stay away from back stage if I was you.

0:45:100:45:12

LAUGHTER

0:45:120:45:16

I don't remember an old Nic and a present day Nic,

0:45:200:45:24

do you know what I mean? That's not how it is.

0:45:240:45:27

He's just Dad. How he is is how he is.

0:45:270:45:30

That probably made it a lot easier for me to deal with.

0:45:300:45:33

# Here I stand lost in the wind

0:45:350:45:41

# Round in circles sailing... #

0:45:410:45:45

I was nervous the whole way through, knowing what the songs were

0:45:450:45:49

and how they should be.

0:45:490:45:51

Dad tends to sing behind the beat,

0:45:510:45:53

so every time he was coming in a bit late you'd think,

0:45:530:45:55

"Oh, no, he's forgotten."

0:45:550:45:56

You know, it was that sort of anxiety all the way through,

0:45:560:45:59

listening to it.

0:45:590:46:00

# Good man

0:46:020:46:04

# Sing a sad song for me... #

0:46:040:46:07

Helen was a daddy's girl and loved him dearly,

0:46:070:46:11

but when she got to her teenage years, in her mind,

0:46:110:46:16

she'd lost the father she'd had.

0:46:160:46:19

In some ways, possibly, in relationships,

0:46:190:46:23

she's always been looking for...

0:46:230:46:25

..in her relationships, Nic.

0:46:260:46:30

# Here I stand alone on the plain... #

0:46:300:46:35

It's that fear of, I think...

0:46:350:46:40

I don't think I've ever been able to love someone as much as I loved Dad.

0:46:400:46:46

And maybe because that's a fear of losing them.

0:46:510:46:54

I was there with a friend who'd never seen Nic before,

0:47:120:47:17

who never knew his old records,

0:47:170:47:18

but took his performance entirely at face value,

0:47:180:47:22

with no nostalgia involved,

0:47:220:47:24

and she was completely bowled over. That, to me, was the test.

0:47:240:47:30

It wasn't just a load of us being nostalgic because Nic was up there,

0:47:300:47:34

it was actually musically very good.

0:47:340:47:36

# How I wish I was single again

0:47:360:47:41

# All this weeping and wailing and rocking the cradle... #

0:47:410:47:47

It was fascinating that,

0:47:470:47:48

when he actually stood up and sang with his son,

0:47:480:47:51

it was electrifying.

0:47:510:47:53

It really was an extraordinary moment.

0:47:540:47:58

Hearing blood relatives sing together is a thrilling thing,

0:47:580:48:02

I think, because they achieve a blend

0:48:020:48:04

that normal human beings can't.

0:48:040:48:07

# Rocking a cradle

0:48:080:48:10

# Rocking a baby that's none of my own... #

0:48:100:48:15

APPLAUSE

0:48:190:48:21

He's stubborn and the annoying thing is, he's usually right.

0:48:270:48:31

When we've been practising, "How about ending it this way?

0:48:310:48:35

"I'm not too sure about that."

0:48:350:48:38

And then you end up - he has this little suggestion.

0:48:380:48:40

It's like, "Why are you changing it?"

0:48:400:48:42

So then you'll do it anyway because he's persistent,

0:48:420:48:44

and you end up changing it and you're like, "Yeah, he's right."

0:48:440:48:48

Which is annoying from a father-son point of view,

0:48:480:48:51

especially when you get a kick out of having a good old argument -

0:48:510:48:56

in a nice way.

0:48:560:48:58

But, yeah, he's invariably right.

0:48:580:49:00

# Some time between ice ages was that they first appeared

0:49:000:49:10

# Fell hungry on the beasts and the fish they speared

0:49:100:49:18

# But all their bones... #

0:49:180:49:21

I'm very taken by the whole theme of the song,

0:49:210:49:23

which is about the fact that we all think we're really special

0:49:230:49:27

and unique, but we're all going to die and one day we'll be ruins

0:49:270:49:31

by the shore. And I've heard, both from Joe and Nic,

0:49:310:49:35

that it was also inspired by Planet of the Apes.

0:49:350:49:38

And the way Nic does it on recordings,

0:49:420:49:45

he does a very intricate guitar part which was actually really

0:49:450:49:49

difficult to work out how to plan on the piano.

0:49:490:49:52

And both me and Joe are like, "How are we going to do this?"

0:49:550:49:59

Because he is a law unto himself, is Nic,

0:49:590:50:02

and he changes things to suit the melody

0:50:020:50:05

and the way he's interpreting each verse,

0:50:050:50:08

so each verse is different.

0:50:080:50:10

# Some time between ice ages... #

0:50:150:50:19

Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow

0:50:190:50:22

have rearranged Nic's Ruins by the Shore.

0:50:220:50:25

They're keen to add the song to their own repertoire.

0:50:250:50:28

We thought we'd take it completely apart

0:50:300:50:33

and keep one of the key guitar signature notes or motifs,

0:50:330:50:38

but turn the song from a major song in a major key into

0:50:380:50:42

a minor key, and sort of make it a little bit more dramatic.

0:50:420:50:47

And use two voices,

0:50:470:50:49

so have a counter point going on and then lots of harmonies.

0:50:490:50:54

And... I hope we've done a good job of it.

0:50:540:50:57

Nic hasn't actually heard it yet, so we'll see.

0:50:570:51:00

# But now the spiders nest the tombs wherein they lie... #

0:51:000:51:11

# But all their bones are blackened and their faces are no more

0:51:110:51:20

# As we walk among... #

0:51:200:51:23

Although not one for nostalgia about his past,

0:51:230:51:26

after 40 years, Nic and his old Halliard

0:51:260:51:29

band mates got together for a reunion.

0:51:290:51:31

I have most of his albums and have listened to them,

0:51:330:51:37

and just sat back in awe.

0:51:370:51:42

I don't like the expression about owning a song but, by golly,

0:51:420:51:47

he owned the songs that he sang.

0:51:470:51:50

# And their faces are no more... #

0:51:510:51:54

Finally, we did meet in 2005 at Nic's house.

0:51:540:52:00

And Nic came over to me, and he sat opposite me at the table.

0:52:000:52:06

He...took my hands...

0:52:090:52:12

..and he sang to me.

0:52:130:52:16

VOICE BREAKS: I can't remember the song that he sang.

0:52:160:52:20

It was... It was a song about the now,

0:52:200:52:27

was what was important...

0:52:270:52:30

not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now.

0:52:300:52:34

# Be still somewhere... #

0:52:500:52:54

Most of all, I've learned that there's beauty in imperfection.

0:52:540:52:59

Over and over again in the rehearsals, I felt moved and felt

0:52:590:53:04

quite emotional, and I know Heidi has as well.

0:53:040:53:09

We've just felt the hairs go up on our arms as he's sung a song.

0:53:090:53:15

And I've learned that you can't predict anything,

0:53:150:53:17

cos I never predicted that I would be doing this.

0:53:170:53:21

# We're here in the now... #

0:53:210:53:23

It's about music.

0:53:230:53:25

It's not, "I'll sing a song and you play an accompaniment" -

0:53:250:53:28

it's not like that.

0:53:280:53:29

It's like that.

0:53:290:53:31

Nic Jones came out as a brilliant musician

0:53:330:53:37

and I think he'll always be brilliant musician.

0:53:370:53:41

A real musical head.

0:53:410:53:43

# In the little dark engine room... #

0:53:430:53:49

It sort of doesn't matter that he plays folk music -

0:53:490:53:52

it transcends that.

0:53:520:53:53

You can play it to people that don't

0:53:560:53:57

have any history of listening to folk music

0:53:570:54:00

and they're spellbound by it.

0:54:000:54:02

It's sort of like when people say poetry -

0:54:040:54:06

people won't like poetry -

0:54:060:54:08

but poetry is something people ordinarily would love.

0:54:080:54:10

It's a wonderful thing, as is folk music.

0:54:100:54:13

If it's good...

0:54:160:54:17

..and he's very good.

0:54:190:54:21

Altogether!

0:54:240:54:26

# In the little dark engine room... #

0:54:260:54:30

There was a guy that came out,

0:54:300:54:31

and he went up to Dad and he couldn't speak.

0:54:310:54:34

He was just in tears.

0:54:340:54:36

And... And that was lovely,

0:54:360:54:38

and I was a little surprised that people were that emotional about it.

0:54:380:54:41

I could understand me being emotional about it

0:54:410:54:44

or family or anything, or people that knew him, but these people...

0:54:440:54:48

You know, even young people who'd never seen him perform before.

0:54:490:54:53

# That burned oily rags and coal. #

0:54:550:54:59

Thanks a lot. Cheers.

0:54:590:55:02

APPLAUSE

0:55:020:55:06

Nic Jones!

0:55:080:55:10

You could argue that maybe, if he hadn't had his accident,

0:55:130:55:15

he wouldn't be as popular now.

0:55:150:55:17

He might have just disappeared and nobody would have been interested,

0:55:170:55:20

or he might have done something everyone hated. You know, so...

0:55:200:55:24

Might have been a good career move.

0:55:240:55:27

..for Belinda O'Hooley and Joe Jones.

0:55:270:55:30

APPLAUSE

0:55:300:55:33

# Buchan, it's bonny, oh and there lives my love

0:55:330:55:38

# My heart it lies on him, it will not remove... #

0:55:380:55:45

"An introduction to folk.

0:55:450:55:47

"There are those who would have you keep folk songs for the sheep.

0:55:470:55:51

"I shared such an aspersion until I heard a ballad

0:55:510:55:55

"by the name of Annachie Gordon done by one Nic Jones.

0:55:550:55:59

"John Peel it was who brought me to ken the lingering longing

0:55:590:56:03

"and the wavering tones over intricate patters

0:56:030:56:06

"of the fingering bones.

0:56:060:56:08

"Since when, many folk songs have moistened my eye

0:56:080:56:12

"and I can see why a Morris Dancer sports a spare hanky."

0:56:120:56:17

# Won't you take me by the hand?

0:56:170:56:20

# And won't you lead me to the chamber? #

0:56:200:56:23

I like singing. I like singing - it's nice.

0:56:230:56:27

It's a means of self expression.

0:56:270:56:29

And I've always been a very egocentric person.

0:56:300:56:33

I've always liked my own voice.

0:56:330:56:35

# And he's dying in the chamber

0:56:350:56:38

# Where his true love... #

0:56:380:56:41

I was invited to go to a primary school by one of the teachers who

0:56:410:56:44

had said, "Come and play for the kids

0:56:440:56:46

"and we'll do a little workshop,

0:56:460:56:48

"and you can tell them how to achieve their dreams",

0:56:480:56:51

and things like that. And I thought, "I'll give it a go."

0:56:510:56:54

I only just got out of school myself, but OK.

0:56:540:56:56

Maybe they'll relate to me more cos I'm a bit younger.

0:56:560:56:59

At the end, I said, "I'm going to do a ballad now",

0:56:590:57:02

thinking the kids wouldn't really get it.

0:57:020:57:04

It's about tradition and it's not what they hear on the radio.

0:57:040:57:07

I said, "I'm going to do a ballad by a man called Nic Jones",

0:57:070:57:10

and a few of them started looking at each other.

0:57:100:57:12

I was like, "They can't know what this is."

0:57:120:57:14

And I kid you not, they all started cheering.

0:57:140:57:16

I started playing and they were singing along to it.

0:57:160:57:19

And it's the clearest I've seen crossing the generations,

0:57:190:57:24

and folk progressing and being handed down in the truest form.

0:57:240:57:28

It's the clearest I've seen that ever,

0:57:280:57:30

and it was like a beautiful moment.

0:57:300:57:32

But, yeah, I'll not forget that and I wish Nic was there to see it.

0:57:330:57:37

He would have really, really loved it. It was a good day.

0:57:370:57:40

# Be still somewhere

0:57:420:57:45

# Each moment aware

0:57:450:57:47

# That the now is here, so simple and so clear... #

0:57:470:57:54

It's very difficult to put your finger on what Nic's music is

0:57:540:57:59

and why it appeals to so many people.

0:57:590:58:02

I think it still has, apart from the obvious quality,

0:58:020:58:06

it has a bit of a cool feel to it,

0:58:060:58:08

a bit of a rock-y feel, certainly on the up-tempo numbers.

0:58:080:58:13

And it seems to just come through the ages and still be available

0:58:130:58:18

and relevant to people.

0:58:180:58:20

# Sally where are you going that you do look so gay?

0:58:270:58:31

# I know that I've not asked you to take a walk today

0:58:310:58:36

# You have not asked me well indeed

0:58:360:58:38

# It's a tiny cheek of you

0:58:380:58:40

# For you think that there are no more young chaps

0:58:400:58:43

# I've got a dozen or two

0:58:430:58:45

# Billy don't you weep for me

0:58:450:58:47

# I'm going to St James' Park my cousin Joe to see... #

0:58:470:58:51

Subtitles By Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:510:58:54

Nic Jones is a legend of British folk music. His 1980 record Penguin Eggs is regarded as a classic. In a poll by The Observer a few years ago, Penguin Eggs was rated number 79 of the 100 Best Records of All Time, just above Station to Station by David Bowie and just below Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones - amazing for an LP that never actually charted. His iconic song Canadee-i-o has even been covered by Bob Dylan.

Many believe that Nic was destined for international stardom; his funky, rhythmical and percussive guitar style and smooth singing meant that his music crossed musical barriers.

In 1982, Nic Jones was at the peak of his career, but driving home from a gig one night a near-fatal car crash changed his life forever. Almost every bone in his body was broken and neurological damage meant that he would never play his guitar in front of an audience again. Apart from a couple of tribute concerts, Nic Jones disappeared from the public eye for thirty years. Then in the summer of 2012, encouraged by friends and family, Nic returned to the stage to play several festival performances accompanied by his guitarist son, Joe Jones and keyboard player Belinda O'Hooley. The concerts were a resounding success and for his old and new fans, a moving comeback for their musical hero.

The film is the emotional story of Nic's return but also demonstrates why he is so revered, not just in folk circles but across all music genres. Nic has inspired a whole generation of younger artists including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Sam Carter and Blair Dunlop. They all appear in the film, as does American singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell. Folk legends Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Chris Wood and ex-Fairport Convention founder Ashley Hutchings are also featured.


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