LET IT BLEED

So there’s a part of this story that will remain untold for now, but there’s also an amazing episode that can’t NOT be told. When I was a small child, I went to live with my Godmother, Auntie Kay, a genuine fairy godmother in a time of enormous upheaval, she nurtured my little self generously with the help of my uncle and her four teenage boys and only daughter, who was 19 when she had to share her box bedroom and single bed with me! The youngest, my cousin Derek, was sixteen at the time, and would let me sit with him for hours, listening to music from his vast array of LPs. Very early on, I remember being able to sing the lyrics of songs that he played over and over from the likes of Bowie, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. One LP I particularly remember because the cover depicted what looked like a cake, was Let It Bleed, but of course, on closer inspection, as was mandatory for the times to examine every detail of the art work, front, back, and inner album sleeve, I was distracted from my misery for hours at a time, figuring out what I was looking at and what it all symbolized while listening to lyrics so totally inappropriate for my young age as I tried to decipher their meanings. I could sing You can’t always get what you want before I had even made my first communion!

Fast-forward to the present day. My son Lee, an old soul with impeccable taste for classic retro, had purchased a proper record player, complete with custom cabinet and speakers from the 70’s and an older friend of his gave him a bundle of LPs that had been gathering decades of dust in his attic – low and behold – originals from the likes of Bowie, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Who and The Rolling Stones. There was one in particular that Lee wanted to show me, the Stones’ Let it Bleed, released in December 1969 by Decca Records, it was the last record to feature Brian Jones before his untimely death. Lee particularly wanted to show me the handwritten notes and the Christmas dedication on it, as his friend had told him that he used to go to school with a guy called Derek and that this particular album had been his.

Yes, this is the very same album that I held in my curious little hands all those years ago. You can see Derek’s handwriting on the album, and his sister’s message. Imagine his utter joy on receiving this just released album from his big sis at Christmas! I’m not an overexcitable person, I don’t think I’ve ever squealed for joy or anything like it, but I did get a shiver of nostalgic solace when my son handed me this album, so many decades after I’d held it, pondering the grown-up, compelling strangeness of it all. To see it again felt like a big old blanket of comfort had just been returned. I’ve always believed in serendipity – and resilience – both themes that revisit me often through my life and creative work. Another irony is that I am currently finishing the final draft of my novel, LADY BETH, a tough project to write, and have recently listened to the lyrics of the song Let It Bleed for inspiration. WTF? Now that is serendipitous!

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you’ll get what you need.”

Jagger and Richards: 1969

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