A droll and heartfelt memoir from the Fife bard
This article is from 2011.
Earlier this year, James Yorkston seduced a full-house in Glasgow, clad with a well-thumbed touring diary. It was not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
While the Fife-based singer-songwriter and commended Fence Collective affiliate has long been loved for his blustering folk psalms and undulating, picturesque shanties, his publishing debut, It’s Lovely to Be Here, has proven that Yorkston is a sickening man: for not only is he a charmer and a bard, he’s an exquisite prose writer to boot.
‘It was interesting going back into the thick soup that is my memory and recalling all these characters I’d met,’ says our warm-hearted renaissance chap of his accidental tome. ‘I was asked to write a piece for Loops,’ he explains of the Faber and Domino cult-pop journal, so I put together a short tour diary, and I enjoyed the writing, so I just kept on going. Once I’d written a few sections I sent them off to the guy at Faber and he wrote backing saying it was braw as a craw and encouraging me to continue and to make a book out of it.’
This is a thoroughly Yorkston narrative. Lest we forget, he assailed our hearts after John Peel played (and raved about) his demos and Domino came knocking at his door. Now the same record label (home to the Arctic Monkeys and Fence ally King Creosote) has set up a publishing house in his honour.
Amid his globe-trotting tales of peeping toms and geese masquerading as bomb scares, Yorkston’s volume recalls the fateful day he posted Peel his demo. ‘The post office wifey scans over [Peel’s] name and gives me a quick look that says: he’ll never play this.’ Like Yorkston’s songs, It’s Lovely to Be Here is modest, droll and heart-breaking.
27 Aug (with Ian Rankin), 4pm, £10 (£8).