The Final Say

The Final Say; John Martyn, Singer and musician

Where are you?
Anywhere, at any given time. At this moment, Kilkenny.

Favourite items of clothing?
Djellaba, dhoti, three piece suit, things mostly oriental.

Favourite drinks?
Guinness, or any good rum.

Ideal meal?
Home cooked Jamaican.

Favourite holiday?
Life. Sorry it’s a bit hip, but there you are.

If they were making a movie of your life, who would you like to see in the starring role?
Me, of course. But if not, Ken Dodd.

What were you like in school, hard-working or not?
Not hard working, didn’t need to be, too brilliant.

Who was your first kiss?
Phyllis Jackson, when I was growing up in Glasgow. I was ten, she was nine, she was in my class in school. The kiss? It was wonderful.

What was the first record you bought?
High Heel Sneakers, Tommy Tucker.

Your favourite three films?
Harvey, with James Stewart; The Wizard of Oz; A Beautiful Mind.

Your favourite books?
The Wind in the Willows, it’s a lovely thing, it’s so allegorical, so anecdotal and so beautiful; JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Along with Catcher in the Rye these are landmarks of American literature.

Most embarrassing performance?
Too vast a choice.

Who would you like to give a good slap to?
Myself, or someone evil.

Who makes you laugh?
Children generally, and if not them, politicians.

Your greatest fear?
Be fearless, or otherwise be stupid.

Your worst habit?
Thinking, it is my worst habit, I do it all the time, it’s very difficult to stop.

Current burning ambition?
My next breath. I’m doing you up here, aren’t I? My next breath, I mean it.

Summarise yourself in a few words.
Interesting to some.

What is the greatest piece of music ever composed?
This is very difficult. . . Debussy’s La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair). That, or silence. I could quote you, but music is always comparable, ‘compared to what?’ If you want, a single note, a single note has everything in it.

What is the worst piece of music ever composed?
Too numerous to mention.

Are you a soap or documentaries fan, TV wise?
Documentaries, almost entirely history. I like the classical period, I like the Greeks and Romans. If you’re brought up learning Latin, you enjoy that period.

What do you value most in people?
Their love.

Recall for us your own best performance?
I once played a blinder with a dreadful flu in Toronto, 20 or 30 years ago. I thought I was gonna die, I was in an altered state of mind. I was so bad I was hallucinating before the gig, I had to be persuaded to go on the stage. I went on and God just smiled on me, and made me play real good. They wouldn’t let me off the stage, it was very cool.

Favourite sporting moment?
Scoring the winning try for the South of Scotland, against I can’t remember, when I was 16. I was fly half, I was the f***er who hung on to the side of the scrum and did my very, very best to annoy the opposing scrum half. I’d jump on him before he got the ball away.

If your house was on fire, and everybody was safe, what possessions would you take with you?
One of my favourite Tibetan (Buddhist) knives, which you take on a journey; a small, very beautiful netsuke (Japanese) Buddha which I can put in my pocket; The Complete Robert Burns .

Person you would least like to go on holiday with?
The choice is so huge, it’s a close run thing between Robert Mugabe and Idi Amin.

Whose phone number would you like to have?
Elvis Presley, I know he’s alive and he’s bound to have a phone.

What’s the best thing about living in Thomastown, County Kilkenny?
Waking up.

What is the worst thing about living in Thomastown?
The incredible amount of juggernaut trucks horsing through there every single moment of the day. They don’t belong there. If you spend one day in Thomastown, you will know exactly what I mean.

Any plans for another album?
I’m nearly finished the new one, and after that it’s purely a matter of business. I’m aiming to have it out for the beginning of the tour.

Paddy Kehoe
RTÉ Guide
1 April 2005