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A recently discovered video of Magna Carta playing (miming) "Times Of Change" from a TV program in London, 1969. Enjoy!
Times Of Change, Chris Simpson, Glenn Stuart and Lyell Tranter, London, 1969.
Hi, there Everyone,
As I explained to our noble site manager the other night, it may have seemed a tad quiet at this end, but in fact it is far from it.
As some of you know, I came back from the South African tour with the brilliant Laurens and a knee the size of Tony Blair's ego. 'Septic arthritis', they said. It turned out to be a spider bite.
Then when we had a morning of freezing temperatures and black ice, I tried some Nureyev moves on the icy path to our house. Down I went and three ribs gone. Tried to get out of the bath ten days later, and slipped. Two ribs gone on the other side. I do not do things by halves and never have. Three weeks later fell down the open hatch on our boat and landed on the engine. Result: engine 10, me, O!
Anyway, enough of all that rubbish, suffice it to say I have about five projects all going at once. We have a lovely concert to look forward to in Holland on September 6th in Dwingeloo. And to think I thought two years ago I would hang up my road shoes.
So I am now trying to put two or three dates around that one.
Canada,- the Ingersoll Festival is now in the negotiating stages. That would be July. Norway, Brasil and Switzerland are also on the cards.
I am working on a musical nucleus of the virtuoso Laurens Joensen whose playing I love as much as he loves my songs, Wendy Ross, a classical/rock virtuoso on violin and a great spirit, me, I suppose, and a bass player to be announced.
Then the 'Fields of Eden' MUST be recorded in the next two or three months - some of it in Holland. You will all be, I think, delighted to know that the old team will get together, and Tony Cox, who produced 'Lord of the Ages', will be joint producing. Right now, I am finalizing the songs.
I have heard three pieces of music in my head. Cathy (who is a classical piano player par excellence) wrote them down. I would actually like her to play them on the album, but she does not know that yet, with Wendy on violin and all the extras.
Then I have written ' The Children of the Sea,' which gave birth one night at the magical 'Eekhoornnest in Soest, Holland, with Danny and Andrea. It is a narration and can only call on the MAN - Andrew Jackson. It is a vision I had. It will break your heart. We have carried my words and Andrew's voice for 'The Fields of Eden' all over the world on disc. Richard Griggs, a lovely man in Cape Town and mentor of an Internet radio station going out through 98 countries said, after Laurens and I performed it to a packed out crowd in The Barleycorn, Cape Town, 'You MUST record that. It is one of the incredible things I have ever heard.’
Then, kind of looking back when Laurens came over for one day's rehearsals before South Africa and he had it all nailed up-fast, I played him a song I had always had a problem with. 'Walk away from Heaven', had been my kind of bette noir. We ran it through once, then again, he put lovely slide and a riff on it, and it brought the crowds up on their feet in South Africa every night. 'It is as good as any Bob Dylan song', said Laurens.
Paul and Lorna Culwick came from J'oburg to catch us at Bloemfontein, beloved friends and people, and said it was worth coming the endless miles just to hear that song. It will be on the new album. As will 'European Union Blues' which, in Lauren's words, 'get it on YouTube. You got a smash.' For it is the way people feel right now.
Then while I am at it with nothing to do, I am trying to finish my book 'Seasons in the Dale', which will surprise you all.THEN, Ed Williams near to here, has read my book 'The Visitor', and figures it must be done on stage. He is going to do it. Then film. With Magna Carta music of course.
Ah, yes, and as most of you know, I have had a deteriorating ulna nerve in my left arm which means I cannot really play what I hear in my head. They are operating on that in the next few weeks.
And so with nothing to do; there is ice on the canal; the ducks are fine; spring is coming and I figure what I am going plant in our veg. garden.
Keep watching and listening- as indeed the BBC are playing a fair bit of MC- you ain't seen or heard nothing yet.
Love and ribs, Chris.
For those of you who’d love to have some Magna Carta on cd, but would love to have most of the best songs together, here’s a great album (on Repertoire Records). Chris writes: 'Simply the best compilation of our music ever made. It even impressed me and although I wrote 99% of it I never play the past. I did with this one and even I had to figure, 'Lord. we really have done something down the years.' It has hit songs on it.' Chris Simpson, February 2013.
Where on earth does the time go? Maybe you notice it more as you get older, and given everyone I meet who learns that I am over 70 now can't believe that- just goes to prove you can fool a lot of the people for some of the time. Good. Maybe it is because I believe that as someone once said: 'how by worrying can you add an inch to your stature?’ (note that Bernie Eccleston) You cannot, so I have never let it bother me. Not one bit. BUT, having said that, it seems like only yesterday, I took some 400 Xmas cards up to Kirkheaton post office (we still have them - Post Offices that is) and I figured I'd been doing the same thing but a couple of winks ago.
OK. Where to from here? I love Christmas and always have.
I am busy (along with everything else) re-writing 'Seasons in the Dale’, the biographical tales of life on the hill without electricity; a ghost, lamps and candles on the wild winter evenings, and not a hint of Facebook. No. We did out of date things like talk to each other around a clean scrubbed pine table, and around a simple meal. The day's stories could last for hours.
Elvis I picked up from the battery radio and would you believe, when I was four or was it five, my Dad came back from a day in Uncle John's waterwheel driven corn mill, with a new Vidor battery for the radio. He installed it and I marvelled as to how the BBC (then the Home Service or the Light programme) could put all the programs in the battery. I was rumbled only when, one day, they said a programme was being re- broadcast due to 'atmospheric disruption' the week before. They could not have known that.
Ah, Christmas. It was, and always will be, magic. Money was short. So you got ONE big present and then nuts; apples; books (oh, joy) and apples. Chocolate coins looking like sovereigns in gilt net bags. Live candles burnt on the tree and the 'Yule log' of prodigious size smouldered in the hearth.
Church on Christmas Eve and rushing down the hills to the candlelit service in a beautiful building that had survived the Norman conquest. Dad would make 'fromarty' (which I thought tasted God awful) from pearled wheat on Christmas Eve - a medieval countryman's dish. I was allowed two glasses of cider on Christmas Eve too. We'd incinerated our letters to Santa and watched the sparks fade and die as they spun up the maw of the chimney into the December night sky beyond, oh, and yes, that was another wondrous thing. Outside, as Ma Nature did her best, or worst, to demolish the house, because there was no traffic, - for whoever went past you knew anyway and no street lights - the world was complete without any man-made interference. In fact, the old man was contemptuous of torches.
'Use your eyes’, he would say, ‘torches bugger your night vision.' And he was so right. We marveled through the winter months of the nighttime glory of the gas clouds (as I learned later) up in the Milky Way, and nary a light in sight. Just glowing windows.
Going to bed having sung carols around the fire; ghost stories that made you scared to even leave the safe hurdle of glow around the embers, the church clock down in the Dale marking the measured hours of the night, and the frost more often than not, jeweling the windows - INSIDE. So excited that you could not sleep.
Was the roof too steep for the Reindeer? No way. For in the morning, when we'd kick started the fire and the frost had melted, we opened our new treasures: the scent of the goose broiling sweetly in its juices. Cider again. Then John (see 'Song for John) whom I loved; Aunt Marion ( twin set; pearls, and a smile to match) and Granny ('All our Yesterdays') would arrive.
You showed them your new treasures; they brought theirs and off we all went around a laden table again, the scent of sage and parsley; bread sauce; cranberry jelly, the goose, sprouts, roast potatoes... then the Christmas pudding, heavy as lead and boiled in muslin, with lashings of rum sauce.
Then to follow, as if that was not enough to sink the Bismarck, Christmas cake and Wensleydale cheese. And port, carefully secluded in the corner cupboard through the year, along with the rum (Lamb's Navy, I recall). The cake was made in January, eleven months earlier and left to ingest dollops of cognac, and, as a final touch, a silver threepenny bit.
After THAT, expanded waist lines; in John's case his watch chains to the gold hunter watch, which I am privileged to own, stretched across his ample tum. There were more stories about who married who or didn't, or who had sired who to who when they shouldn't. Then they would all fall asleep.
We were happy. Our new treasures and the wide open outdoors. It was so special, you wanted to shout it aloud like the boy gazing up at the rejuvenated Scrooge. 'Why, it's Christmas Day, Sir.'
Finally, it was time for them to go. Farewells and hugs; sometimes snow blowing past the mistel doors, and the lights of John's Vauxhall (registration number BWW, something, I recall) fading down the deserted road into the night.
That was Christmas. It was always special.
The thing was: WE made it. There was simply - apart from the radio - no-one telling us what to do, - no piles of presents under trees. No iphones; no anything other than our selves, and the company. That was how it was.
And that, folks, was an aspect of my heritage in the homeland of the Yorkshire Dales. It was my carving and my shaping, and it went on to fuel Magna Carta.
On into 2013. It has been a strange year. Up and down in the fortunes of us all. We lost John Haxby, dear friend and album sleeve designer par excellence; Lee, the greatest bassman of them all. Fred Stark must feel lost this Christmas too. And John's family. And so on. It comes to us all in the end, but no less hard in the happening.
God bless and keep you all this Christmas and don't forget when the meddlers try and downgrade it...it is, after all, CHRISTmas.
See you beloved all, worldwide, and in 2013, God willing, you'll see the album 'The Fields of Eden' and, hopefully, 'Seasons in the Dale'.
Love in lumps and every blessing, Chris and Cathy x
Yes folks, it's this time of the year again: the listeners of Dutch radiostation Radio 2 have again voted (in their millions!) for the annual Top 2000, which will be broadcast between Christmas and midnight New Year's Eve.
Just like in the previous years, Magna Carta is featured on the list with two classic songs:
At # 1212 it's Lord Of The Ages (1973), which will be broadcast on December 27th, between 23.00-24.00 local time.
At # 1802 it's Airport Song (1970), which will be broadcast on December 26th, between 02.00-03.00 local time.
The top 10 of the list is:
1 Bohemian Rhapsody-Queen 1975
2 Hotel California-Eagles 1977
3 Stairway To Heaven-Led Zeppelin 1971
4 Child In Time-Deep Purple 1972
5 Avond-Boudewijn de Groot 1997
6 Wish You Were Here-Pink Floyd 1975
7 Shine On You Crazy Diamond-Pink Floyd 1975
8 Someone Like You-Adele 2011
10 Comfortably Numb-Pink Floyd 1979
The complete Top 2000 list can be found here.
All about the 2012 Magna Carta South African Tour can also be found on this special page.
LINKS You can find other websites on Magna Carta in the Links section.
ARTICLES You can read various articles on Magna Carta in the Articles section (updated).
You can read what Chris, Linda and Matt wrote about the farewell concert at the Carré in 2009
MAGNA CARTA'S Farewell Concert at the Carré, Amsterdam, May 11, 2009 You can see photographs of the Carré concert here [opens in a new window].
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