"For a writer, a place like Salford is worth its weight in gold. It's got everything a writer could ever want... It's alive...the whole place is alive... I think it's a fabulous place. And the language is alive, it's virile, it lives and it breathes and you know exactly where it's coming from. Right out of the earth." Shelagh Delaney describes her Wondrous Place.
"It's a bit crap if you're so parochial that you're only allowed to write about humbugs and chippies. Sheffield may not be very sexy. But, then again, it is, because that was where I grew up, and where all my sex was had. I didn't have sex in London for about two years. I had lovers block. I couldn't get it on. But, in Sheffield, when it's hot, you can feel the sap rising, and everything seems as if it's got something to do with sex, as if the whole city has sex on its brain." Jarvis Cocker on his Wondrous Place.
This is Gavin Bryars’ ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’, featuring ‘Tramp’ and Tom Waits.
Here’s Gavin Bryars describing the events that inspired it.
‘In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song – sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads – and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”. This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song – 13 bars in length – formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.
I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man’s singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.’
The version above features the original footage that accompanied it - and which is equally beautiful.