The Making Of Solid Air By John Martyn
A poignant epistle to Nick Drake, the delicate folk jazz title track on Martyn’s third solo LP emerged from a session “almost like a big jam.”
It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right, with very clear motives,” John Martyn later recalled of the title track from his 1973 classic, Solid Air. The album’s best-known song might be the gently swinging “May You Never” – covered by everyone from Eric Clapton to Wet Wet Wet – but it’s the smoked-out six-minute opener that truly maps Martyn’s evolution from talented Scottish folkie to genre-busting maverick.
Written in the summer of 1972, “Solid Air” is a mesmerising murmur of empathy, frustration and foreboding aimed at Martyn’s friend and Island label mate, Nick Drake. Drake would babysit for Martyn and his wife Beverley when they were living in Hampstead, and when the family moved to Hastings he would still visit occasionally. The song divines not only Drake’s quietly devastating emptiness, but the impossibility of reaching him.
“I don’t know what’s going on in your mind/But I know you don’t like what you find/When you’re moving through solid air,” sings Martyn. “I know you, I love you/I will be your friend/I will follow you anywhere.” After Drake’s death in November 1974, it became a kind of requiem.Read More