Warning – This article contains spoilers and is a story more than a review!

I have been a fan of John Ford since the very early 70’s, The Strawbs were one of my favorite bands. I have lost count of how many articles I have written about this band and the effect they had on the musical landscape, both then and now.

All good things must come to an end and the Strawbs were not immune. Keyboard player Rick Wakeman went on to a hugely successful solo career and a key kay part of the band YES. Dave Cousins has opted to maintain the Strawbs brand and is still actively playing. John Ford and Richard Hudson had a brief flirt with the Punk movement under the guise The Monks.

Times have changed, the past is the past. John continues to play and has just released his latest CD No Talkin’. The title is apt, as indeed there are no vocals, it is just a celebration of great music.

I am a reviewer, but I also like to understand the back story. The liner notes claim that the CD is dedicated to Joyce, indeed there is a track titled Joyce’s Song. But who was Joyce? My ever inquiring mind had to find out.

Who better to ask than John and his wife Jill. The story is a wonderful one. I will share some of Jill’s comments:

Joyce was my dearest, sweet little mother.

joyce3

John and my mum were quite close, as they had much in common – both being British and musical. When my mother was well, she would make lovely proper British-style dinners for us, or lunches with tea sandwiches with the crusts off – watercress, sardine salad, egg salad and cucumber – being British you get the idea. She loved pampering him, I guess he was also like the son she never had, and a bit of a flirt even at her age =) They were also big on having their tea together in blue willow china cups, etc. John told me he felt close to her, as she was a classically trained pianist as her father, and understood him and his music. She enjoyed watching his youtube videos, and listening to his music, going to his local concerts early with us, and before the show, sitting center front row helped give him direction setting up the stage, from her vantage point. She was a very visual person, being an artist, designer and visual display, He would always acknowledge her during the show which she got a big kick out of.

At one point, Joyce even hoped she could join the band as a keyboardist when she noticed the one in the band at the time had flowing white hair and heard he was leaving the band. She was nothing less than amazing for her age. She would also come up with melodies and wanted to write songs with John! In all honesty, despite her age, had she gotten a electronic keyboard, and had sheet music, she probably could have learned some of his tunes. She would play her baby grand piano, and he,his guitar at her house when we visited, and they had a great old time entertaining whoever was over. She loved music from classical and opera to the Beatles, and art. She was very hip, creative, intellectual, well read, open minded and brilliant. She could do just about anything, but very quiet, unassuming and humble about it all. She would always help people, loved animals, nature and was spiritual in her own way. She was not your typical American mother. Probably because she was British and French. Her father was French, worked as a VP in the French Line, and during W2 became a British War Minister, knew Churchill, was a British Intelligence Officer and part of the Free French.

If I ever became annoyed at him for whatever reason, as can happen sometimes in relationships, my mother would also, always stress the fact that John was “very special” and “different,” because he was an artist and composer, and I needed to be understanding of that.

One day, John told my mom and I, he was writing a song for her and was trying to figure a title. My mother was very flattered and felt quite special. So at least she knew how much she inspired him in some way before she passed. It surprised me too! We still grieve and miss her very much. It was hard to write this which is why it took a few days.

OK, readers might not think this is much of a review, but it is one hell of a story. Oh and this is a picture taken on Joyce’s 90th birthday.

joyce

joyce2You can get your own copy of No Talkin’ by clicking the Amazon link above, and you can find out more about John Ford on his web site.

Simon Barrett

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