Those Two-Day Love Affairs
When I was a reporter I interviewed a lot of my musical heroes.
Terry would laugh at me for being 'in love' with James Burton, Glen Campbell, Elvis Costello, Wilko Johnson, Nick Lowe, for two days after I spoke to them. It was a habit of mine. It wasn't just the musicians. Michel Roux Snr spoke to me about going into the forest near his home in France and picking wild mushrooms with his children when they were young and coming home and cooking together. I adored him for it, obviously. And there were veterans, and artists, TT racers and poets I've never forgotten...anyone with soul and an enthusiast's approach to life.
Terry was very much in on the affair. When I interviewed Burton and Campbell I did so from home. Terry insisted that I put the phone on speaker, so he could hear both sides of the interview. When James and I had an exchange about my life-long adoration of Charlie Rich, and he drawled: "Why Kathryn, you're just a southern girl," Terry had to walk into the kitchen so he could laugh out loud without disturbing the call. Later, he told the story even more often than I do. Whenever we spotted Burton on TV after that he would say: "Kate. It's your other man."
Nobody understood fandom like Terry.
I've come across people who are suspicious of Terry's music because he wrote and sang, so often, about other people: Cochran, Dion, Cash, Gene Vincent, Don & Phil, Laura Nyro. But those performers and their work was so much a part of Terry's DNA that he could no more extract them from his writing than he could drop the letter 'e'.
Almost all of Terry's albums contain a Dion reference - either explicit or implicit.
When he cut his latest one, Atomic 10, I was in the studio with him and the producer, Rob. They put down 16 tracks in a few short days, with no let-up. They were in the studio all day and Terry was exhausted by the end of it - I'm sure Rob was too. Terry conserved his voice when he could. On one track, a driving blues number, called Frank, he had a bit of fun throwing in references to the macho side of Sinatra's persona. Terry sang about Sinatra's film characters, his single-minded approach to life, and he alluded to his mob connections. "Tell Martin Scorsese only Ray Liotta can play me."
Terry finished the vocal, complete with some jabbing ad-libs on the fade-out. When he came out of the recording booth, I said: "Terry....those add libs: What about Yo! Frankie?"
Terry said: "Of course! Rob. I have to go back in and add that. It's the key Dion phrase."
Rob said: "Only two people on Earth will get that reference and they are both in this room."
Terry: "Doesn't matter. It has to be in there. Indulge me."
So he added it.
As far as Terry was concerned, artists he loved as a child gave him a roadmap to life. "They laid the tar on the road that I still walk"
He never stopped revering them, for laying so much magic at his feet. He never stopped proselytising for them.
Terry kept my cuttings. I found them all a month or so ago, backed up on a hard drive. I cut my teeth in print, so have always been sloppy at keeping my archives, since I know at heart that they are redundant as soon as they hit the news-stand: 'tomorrow's chip-wrappers'.
Reading them now, I remember how he would quiz me, when I got home from work, about the first record Tony Hicks or Mick Green bought, how they got that guitar sound, "and did they have a Dion DiMucci story to tell you?"
That question about Dion.... I always asked any musician I thought might have crossed paths with DiMucci, if they had anything to share about him. They were always very good about indulging me. Of course, I asked it mainly for Terry, so I could share the answer with him. He was hungry for any story that added to the Dion legend.....talk about a life-long love affair.
PJ Proby had the best Dion story. It involved The Belmonts, flick knives and swanky cars parked at a posh country club. Some of it might even have been true.