• Kate Clarke

As Sweet as New Tobacco

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

That Western jacket I have been obsessing about? The last time Terry wore it was at The Luminaire, in Kilburn High Road. He and Wes McGhee were the opening act for Billy Joe Shaver.

It was one of those magical nights. Those Hawker boys were there, scattering their bonhomie around the place. Terry always felt he was playing to a home-crowd when John and Mark arrived, (even though Terry was Lyndhurst Road and, I believe, they grew up on Rodway Road…. enemy turf back then.)

My mum came, too. As did a sweet chap called Patrick – a long-time fan of Terry, over from Ireland. He was carefully dressed in tweeds, and he asked me to send him a piece I had just written about Kris Kristofferson. Ian Siegal was there, with a pretty little thing. He called Terry over at the end of the set to shake his hand, on account of the line: “the Gibson and the Rickenbacker, on nights as sweet as new tobacco”…from Terry's John Lennon and Johnny Cash.

Terry and Wes had just cut Night Ride to Birmingham together, and they were wholly in sync. Wes has a way of playing electric guitar that is knowing. Audacious. He stretches the concept of rock and roll twang to its outer limits. And then he takes it a little further to drive the point home. He would play figures and retorts on his Jazzmaster or Stratocaster that Terry and I would laugh about on the drive home. You can measure his playing in joy. I've always been tongue-tied around Wes. I regret it. His shyness, off stage, triggers mine. But I love him fiercely, as did Terry. He is the best kind of rascal and some of our sweetest times involve him.

Billy Joe Shaver. Well, he is a transcendental experience, isn’t he? I’m not sure he really is of this world. I do know that every woman there fell in love with him. Including my mum and I. It all felt holy. Everybody shone. I looked around the room several times that night, to take a 360-memory shot. I was smart enough to recognise it as a special evening, but not smart enough to know there might not be scores more just like it. However, sad times do not erase fine times. They only lend them more weight.





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