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Baker's Dozen

Peculiar Relationships: Neil Gaiman’s Favourite Albums
Emily Mackay , November 21st, 2013 08:30

Following this week's release of his live collaborative album with Amanda Palmer, the fantasy and science fiction author picks out the records that have most inspired and informed his writing


Jason Webley - The Cost Of Living
I put Jason in for a number of reasons, including the fact that he introduced me to my wife. He is a troubadour. He is somebody with an accordion and a battered guitar who goes from town to town and country to country and just entertains people. And he is absolutely fantastic live. In a different generation, in a different era, he would have become Tom Waits. But he never did, which is just fine. What he is is great, he's Jason Webley. And more people should hear about him. I was sent a link to a video, maybe about 2007, of a Jason Webley song called 'Eleven Saints'. And I loved it, and I put up the video. And Jason suddenly found himself with many thousands more people seeing his video than before. He got in touch and he sent me some of his CDs. And this one broke my heart. It's an incredibly powerful album. It's Jason tackling songs, a lot of them about death, a lot of them about dying. There's a song called 'Almost Time To Go' which is probably my favourite Jason Webley song. Those few times I've been with Jason at small gigs where he's asked for requests, or asked me if I have any requests, I will pick that song. “Hold it in your hand, does it weigh more than a single feather?” It's that point where you're at the very end of life and weighing up the options. And right now, the older I get the more that happens. Ten days ago, I got to speak on the phone to an old friend in an ICU, who could still hear my voice but they were going to turn off the life support pretty soon. When I get back to Boston I'll go and see a friend in a hospice. It's that moment of the almost time to go moments for people and you get to hear about them. Strangely, it was a pun that I'd done myself... years before I'd done a book Death: The High Cost Of Living. And I love the fact that he'd figured it out himself. That is, life is the cost of living.