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Baker's Dozen

Songs Are Powerful Things: Marry Waterson's Baker's Dozen
Jude Rogers , October 18th, 2017 07:10

Marry Waterson might have been born into a folk dynasty but that didn't stop her becoming a biker. With a new LP out and her mother and uncle's Bright Phoebus LP recently reissued, she guides Jude Rogers through 13 favourite LPs from The Beatles to The Band and Billie Holiday


Lal & Mike Waterson – Bright Phoebus
When I got the remastered copy from Domino, I took it down to Martin [Carthy]'s to play it for the first time. It was so moving. The original album had sounded like it was cut by knife and fork. We could hear bits we'd never heard before, like Richard Thompson's guitar suddenly appearing…it was spooky. Thompson recently called Mam the singing Bronte, and that all fitted in.

My mum's dark writing, and her original way of writing tunes, has always been an inspiration to me. She never learned properly to play piano, or the guitar, but it didn't matter – I knew as a child that it was OK to have a go because that's what she had done. She never did what was easy with her songwriting either – writing about your troubles, or little things occupy your thoughts, proper poor-me twaddle. She used songs to say in different ways that I am sad, I am angry, I grieve, through words were much more opaque.

The Bright Phoebus Revisited tour in 2013 [where the Waterson family toured the album, with special guests, long before the reissue was organised] was a revelation to me. I love my tour poster from back then. Jarvis Cocker wrote on the sun on the poster "wear Sun Factor 50!" Richard Hawley wrote that there hadn't been a dry eye in the house. I really love 'Fine Horseman' and 'Child Among The Weeds' [the latter is about her mother having a stillborn twin, alongside her younger brother, Oliver, with whom she has made two albums]. And I love 'Shady Lady' – we still all sing that when we get together. I still can't get over the fact that it's out again, properly, the way it was meant to be.