Before we leave the house to go on our walk I put the new Mojo magazine in my bag. There’s a story in it I know I’ll want to read sometime today.
It feels ages since we’ve been to the Shining Shore. After several years where we took most Fridays off work and walked together, and last year when we wrote them all down, this year there hasn’t been so much walking together as Sarah’s been so busy with her funeral celebrant work. So I’ve mostly walked alone, mostly around Liverpool.
But today, a Monday, we neither have things we particularly need to do. And so we go to the Shining Shore. Our ‘home’ walk, our meditative walk, the walk we walk when we just need to walk.
When we started doing this walk a few years ago we used to call this ‘the boring bit.’ A straight road from where we are, which used to be a railway station, up to a main road a mile or so away. Now we don’t find it boring at all.
It’s an ‘enclosure’ hedge, late eighteenth/early nineteenth century round here, when the common land was enclosed for the practical but also politically divisive reasons I’ve written about elsewhere.
So for walking purposes it’s reasonably old and therefore quite varied and interesting.
The ‘boring bit’ is bursting with fruit and colour.
And ends with this picture perfect church.
In the churchyard there are male yew trees, full of pollen in springtime, at the front of the church, and this beautiful female yew tree round at the side of the grave-yard..
Yew trees are often found around church yards, often pre-dating the churches themselves, having been considered sacred in all sorts of cultures. They may live for over 2,000 years, some well over this, as in this example from fellow Liverpool walker, Gerry on ‘That’s How The Light Gets In.’
We walk on.
We’ve often come to this precise spot and consider it ‘our’ place. A place to think, reflect and, sometimes, to read. Today Sarah sleeps and I read.
This month in Mojo there’s a beautiful article about him by Sylvie Simmons, with contributions from Rick Rubin, Tom Petty and others. It tells the story of the final decade of his life, a redemption story.
By the early 1990s, after huge success, some years where he’d sold more records than all the other artists on his label all put together, he’d been dropped by two major labels and seemed to be at the end of his time as a popular singer. Much though he still wanted to work.
To his surprise Rick Rubin came to see him, famous mainly as a producer of rap and heavy metal, to see if they might work together. Which they did. And between 1994 and his death in 2003 they made the late life recordings which, to me and many, define Johnny Cash.
Sylvie Simmons interviews him six weeks after his wife, June Carter, has died, and six weeks before he too will die. During his time working with Rick Rubin his health has broken down terribly, leaving him wracked with all kinds of pain. But the joy of making music again has lit up even these darkening years, and we get the impression of a life ending in fulfilment. That he enjoyed sales and awards and fame again seem almost incidental to the redemption he found in the making of this music.
Sarah wakes and we go down onto the Shore.
Our walk over we drive along to Parkgate to end our day out traditionally.
‘The Long Walk’ by Sylvie Simmons, the story of the last years and late recordings of Johnny Cash is in the October 2013 edition of Mojo Music Magazine.