It will not have escaped the attention of most people living in Scotland that their doorsteps are suddenly sagging on Sunday under a mound of new newsprint. Sheena McDonald wonders what there is left to say.

It has been ' written already. Everything you always wanted to write about sex. i tit-um. degradation. hypocrisy and 'l‘erence Davies (okay

it’s not exhaustive. but ifold 'l‘el represents everything that's good. funny. wise. clever. brave. encouraging. challenging and downright pretty excellent ~ which he does- then we're sucking the same straw. baby) (oh. all right ~— .-\\1) whitewall-tyred-lowloader- collecting. . .)has already been liv cried in smart black and white typeface. and contracted with due importance - and remuneration -- to some established imprint.

If nobody ever writes another word »— far less joins this timber-merchants conspiracy to make Sundays in Scotland at wretched ritual of weightlifting- cum-spot the alias (you are right some clever johnny is writing for all

three a year‘s subscription to H lli l.lS‘l‘ for the first correct answer) (no. it's not Alan 'l'aylor) (what d'you mean - you should know. you ARli Alan 'l‘aylor'.’l ) it the presses refuse to yield a single further volume of memoirs. confessions. insights. analyses and chess problems alter this moment there is nonetheless no chance that you will read a significant fraction of the world‘s books.

'l‘his is liberating. You may stop trying. Since you clearly have no hope of being well-read. you may safely elect to read (or not to read) for pleasure. ()fcourse. if you still believe that your eligibility for social success this autumn relies on ploughing through the Booker shortlist. carry on candle-burning! I simply suggest that when Selina was detailed to grill the judges all those years ago. she may not have been so far off the mark when she boldly elected to champion the philistinc and the seeptic with that one incisive question: ‘I lave you actually read the books'." ()ho! 'l‘he wrath of the mediacracy (not to be confused with mediocrity unless you‘re feeling rather courageous yourself. . .) descended. consiging the intrepid Ms Scott to mere highly-paid transatlanticstardom. .\ly'self.l thought fair question. (‘heck the facts. lass. Plenty of time to debate the finer points of narrative irony once we've established that you didn‘t simply break the spine and

tattoo a coffee-ring on page 173 the day before yesterday.

What is grimmer is the growing realisation that you cannot justify adding your own little dribble of experience to the great spittoon of human experience. ling students learn it first. bttt the lesson is open and there for the learning: It‘s Been Said. In fact. most of it‘s Been Said by Shakespeare (whoever he was) and the combo that brought you ‘l‘he (ireatest Story liver 'l‘old (pltts 'l‘(iSl{'l‘ 3 and 'I'( iSli'I‘: 'l‘he Prequel same names. different actors) - which means that the only other book you might possibly need in (‘rusoe-land is the SAS ( iuide to 'l‘urning l 'rine lnto \Vater no. I’m not being frivolous— I’ve read about it. All you need is a deep hole. a night dew and a large sheet of plastic -~ dratf bang goes the luxury! And there was me looking forward to a .Vear‘s stIPDLV of Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Moisturiser. . . (Santa are you listening. . .'.’)

So ( revenons. . .)»-- if it‘s all been said. and you see no particular reason to inflict another gilt-wrapped guilt-rap on the arts-supplement-hooked ephemera-junkies who shamble. dazed but dogged. in the ever longer and broader wake of the tirelessly self-promoting culture-pedlars (just you watch who you’re calling a pot. matey! ) - Bl'Tyou are still seized by this irrepressible desire to express yourself. and thereby maximise. in humility and grateful duty. your gods-given talents (yeah yeah. been there. got the 'l‘-.shirt) what the hooray are you going to do about it‘.’

It‘s a puzzler. isn’t it‘.’ How to leave your scratch on the parchment of human existence when the surface presented is lllll’} scar-tissue already?

I have a queasy feeling that healing the wounds these days may have more to do with rolling up sleeves and getting hands dirty. rather than tapping out codes on a pristine \'l)l,' which is a sobering prospect for the erstwhile acolytes of literacy. Still. needs must. Recognising where duty lies is one of the first marks ofcivilisation. and I think I can see where the commitment is needed.

I start this Sunday. If you're up early enough. you'll catch me winching your morning’s hundredweight from the boot of my lowloader. Yup. the one with whitewall tyres. Iixpress myself.’ Just watch my lips move. honey!


Very little contemporary music has anything inthe way oldirectemotional impact. This cannotbe claimed inthe case otNanci Griffith. whose song ‘There‘sA LightBeyond These Woods' (Mary Margaret) is one ofabout three songsthat have ever moved me totears.

That is merely one of several reasons why Nanci Griffith is one of the most importantligures in contemporary music. Others include herlive performance. which is coupled with narratives between songs which rate alongside Springsteen and Waits. and her position as the woman at the forefront of‘new country'—amedia invention with which she is not completely atease. Perhaps. a more accurate assessmentcame from the Music Weekioumalistwho described her as ‘the best female country/iolksinger ever!

Despite only gaining significant attention in Britain since the showing of Andy Kershaw‘s 8802 new country programme. Gettin' Tough. Nanci Griffith has a back catalogue which dates backto 1978. when she released. There'sALight Beyond These Woods. the titletrack ofwhich resurfaced on hermaior label debutalbum.

2 The List 14 27 October 1988


LonestarState ofMind. some nine yearslater.

In between. a string of classic songs marked her developmentasa songwriter. with “Working In Corners' onthe second album. Poet In My Window: thetitle track of ‘Once lnA Very Blue Moon‘; and nearly all the tracks on hermost cohesive album. The Lastof the True Believers. which includes 'Love at the Five and Dime‘ and ‘Banks olthe Pontchartrain‘.

HertransitiontoM.C.A. Records did not stopthe flow. and songs like ‘Ford Econoline' and 'Trouble In The Fields‘ (from Lonestar) and ‘Anyone Can Be Somebody's Fool'. ‘| Wish It Would Rain‘ and ‘Outbound Plane‘ (from the most recent album. Little Love Affairs)would make most other songwriters extremely envious. The next stage isa live album. One Fair

Summer Evening. out in November. before work begins on a new studio album in January.

This yearhas been spent touring. with asolo performance atthe Mean Fiddlerin London being followed by a British and Irish tour with her band. The Blue Moon Orchestra. in April and May. Before her current return to these shores. she hasjust completed a solotourolthe States. with a longtime hero. John Prime. The band which toured last time roundleatured Phillip Oonnelly (lead guitar). Fran Breen (drums). Denny Bixby (bass) and James Hooker (keyboards). a man who lormedthe Amazing Rhythm Aces before serving histime with Al Green and Steve Winwood. Subsequently there has been a line-up change. and a new approach forthe coming (our,

'We have atotally new set. and ‘Byrd Burton has joined US on acoustic guuarand mandolin.

Nanci Griffith