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  • Writer's pictureKate Clarke

The Heart Sings

Updated: May 30, 2021

People have been sending me photographs.

Lots of Terry onstage. Often from The Breedon Bar, Birmingham, with Flaco Jiménez

or with Jesse Guitar Taylor, leaning in together like musicians do when they are having a good time.

Otherwise, Terry is sidling up to the mic, holding his guitar high, using that theatrical trick he picked up from Don Everly.

Or he is stepping up slowly and swinging his guitar in a wide arc – the move he absorbed from Cash. I can hear the tap from TC’s shiny black Chelsea boots as he stepped up to sing. That might be my favourite sound on Earth.

Some fans are also sending me pictures of themselves with Terry. I say fans, but Ronny Elliott said once that he didn't have fans any more because they were all friends. That is the case here too. Heaven knows, so many of them have sought me out and have been looking out for me over these past months.

This is Terry with Joe Corrigan, taken after a concert in the Bronte Centre in Rathfriland, Co Down, in the heart of the Mourne Mountains. Joe has been sending me the most comforting, poetic letters since Terry died.

I love this picture.

Not just because Terry looks like he’s having the best of times. But look at the brotherhood between them. I don’t know how often they met. I know they wrote to each other. I know when Terry spoke of his time in Ireland – both in the North and in the Republic - he did so with real joy and animation. And that wasn’t simply about the whiskey.

I recognise that look on Joe’s face. I’ve worn it often - around Terry and around many other people – most of them songmen and women, all of them storytellers, beauty-spotters, talkers and listeners.

People who can conjure jewels from the wind-worn pebbles of our old language. People who can describe a train whistle in a way that would make Hank Williams cry. These are the ones, aren’t they?

Terry mined a hundred songs from the small, stony patch of earth, amid the rows of beans and the cabbage whites behind his childhood home in Lyndhurst Road, Reading. It wasn’t a glamorous spot. I grew up a few doors away, some years later, at number 55. As a child, I used to collect broken bits of pottery I dug up in our back garden there. All families in Lyndhurst Road seemed to set aside a patch for their children, to plant nasturtiums or pansies. Terry had his own section at his house, set aside by his granddad.

It seems he found a song there each time he turned the earth. 50 years later, and hundreds of miles away, he was still finding new songs in that back garden. And still talking about the way his granddad combed his hair.

Terry would cross a busy street to photograph a discarded toy or a wild flower growing through a crack in the pavement. Or to pet a dog he hadn’t yet met. He kept the strings from his Gibson Everly, wound carefully into a tight parcel, from the time Phil Everly played the guitar when they met during a radio interview.

Don’t talk to me about money. I know where the riches are.

“Would you follow me down to the cornfield heat,

oil on your hands, new boots on your feet.

Hubcaps and steering wheels, and holy medallions,

all for a bowlful of mussels and a handful of scallions?” Terry Clarke

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