Ivor Cutler 1923 - 2006

My earliest encounter with Ivor Cutler was at Morden Tower in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with Phyllis April King in 1976. A small round room on the city's barely accessible medieval walls, Morden Tower has a legendary status internationally as a venue for poetry & music: Ginsberg's favorite venue & a haunt of such singular Northerners as Basil Bunting & The New Blockaders. I maybe saw him here three or four times between 76-79 performing to audiences of no more than 15 (a cosy number for Morden Tower) weaving a very particular sort of magic which endures to this day; fantastic beyond measure yet so intimate one could see the tears welling in his eyes as he sang Pearly Gleam.

On one occasion I walked past him in Newcastle the day before one of his Morden Tower concerts, and enquired if I'd got the wrong date. 'No you haven't,' he said, somewhat irritated. 'And I wear my hood up so I won't be recognised.' As an optimistic 16 year old, I took this rebuff as a blessing & vowed forthwith to keep my distance, though at one of his Morden Tower readings I was moved to buy a copy of A Flat Man.

He said to me: 'You don't want me to sign it for you do you?' To which I replied, yes indeed, that would be great. 'No,' he said, 'You DON'T want me to sign it for you - do you?'

Needless to say my unsigned copy of A Flat Man has pride of place to this day.

I have no words to covey my sense of loss, so I recorded a version of Rubber Toy, the only Ivor Cutler song I've ever sang; click on the image above to stream mp3.