James Yorkston Book Extract

Domino Press' inaugral title
James Yorkston - It's Lovely To Be Here
Read an extract from James Yorkston's book, the first from Domino Press, 'It's Lovely To Be Here - The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent'.

Capturing the touring life of the Scottish musician, the book humorously shares the, often less than glamorous, going-ons with Yorkston the consummate story teller.

Read an extract below as James plays a gig in Canada as the support act, laments his experiences as John Martyn's warm up act, and has a run in with a less than threatening biker...

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I play. It’s okay. Audience? Maybe 75. Could probably discount the dozen or so hovering around the pool tables and the folks eating nachos at the far end of the bar. There’s a small group who have obviously heard of me, which is always nice. They request The Patience Song, which I’m happy to play. The main man in my audience within the audience has big eyes, which make me chuckle slightly, although they’re not a humorous defect as such, just a momentary distraction from playing in an unwelcoming Canadian bar to a gaggle of people. Afterwards, I speak to the large-eyed fellow and he buys me a drink. Shortly, he says he has to go, as he can’t stand the main band, so I find myself sitting alone at the end of the bar. A typical and not uncomfortable place for a solo support on tours such as these.

Nowadays, I always try my best to be friendly to support acts and bring them into the fold. When I toured with John Martyn, I was initially made to feel so damn unwanted by one of his band that I’d hate to put someone else in that position. The main band is playing and I’m drinking a cheap Scotch and catching up with Norman Lewis, who is telling me all about Naples in 1944. A fascinating time it seems. I’m interrupted by a biker, who tells me I’m on his seat. He’s a young guy with big ginger dreadlocks, but can’t be more than 22, if that. He doesn’t look scary in the slightest to me, just slightly ridiculous, like a public school guy in Halloween drag. His clothes are clean and his accent clipped. I look at him incredulously as if to say, I hope you’re taking the piss – and return to my book.

Hey dude, you’re on my seat – motherfucker.

The ‘motherfucker’ is added momentarily afterwards, as though he were speaking a foreign language and that was the most recent expression he’d been taught.

I turn back around to face him and he’s snorting slowly out of his nostrils and pulling his jeans up, drawing attention to a big gut and lack of belt. He looks ridiculous and I am not in the least threatened.

Away tae fuck ya wee gnome.

He turns bright red. I turn away and feign reading my book. What would Norman have done, eh? God. For fuck’s sake, fuck off ye wee baw.

Hey, man. Are you from Scotchland? I love Scotchland.

He’s looking at his pals from the corner of his eye. He’s trying to save face.

Yes, that’s right; I’m from Scotland. You’re American, right?

This annoys him.

No man, I’m from Baffin Island.

Baffy Land?
I chuckle.

Baffy Land? I’m incredulous – what sort of place calls itself Baffy Land? (In Scotchland, ‘baffies’ are auld and well-worn carpet slippers.)

No man, Baffin Island.

Ah.

Yes. Is that your guitar?

Aye, that it is.

A-ha.

Were you playing? I never heard you – we just arrived.


I was amazing, I tell him. You would have been amazed. I sound
just like Jimiz Hendriz. Fuck off, I’m thinking. Go away.

Hey Jodie, come over here!

He shouts, loudly, and a wee lassie with a bandana on her head comes over and slips her arm around his waist.

This guy was playing. He can sit where he wants – he’s from Scotchland.

Hmm.

Are you from Baffy Land as well? I ask, looking at her large pointy boots.

No, I’m from Newfoundland. I’m Scotch, like you. She smiles

She has a nice smile. They are children, finding their identity and way in the world. I offer them some scotch. His face lights up with glee – he looks good in front of his girlfriend now. I have made someone’s day. They ask me and I tell them about life as a touring musician in Europe. I tell them a falsehood regarding the time one of my guitars was smashed by a bear in Norway and a truth about a time I had to threaten a barkeep’s optics with a microphone stand before he’d pay my band.

That was in the Highlands, I tell them, a wild place, but to be honest, the barkeep would be eating out on the story for years to come, so I don’t feel guilty at all. I have metamorphosed into a Hard Man all of a sudden. I tell them about the time I ran over a lamb on the way up to Inverness and how it bleated at me in its last seconds, eyes wide, before – bmmph – it lost its fight with the van. Euch, she says. He tells me about his uncle, who’s a fisherman. Yeah, he goes out on the boats in all weathers.

Wow. Boats, eh? Boats. Who’d’ve thunk it. What a night we’re having.

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You can order James Yorkston's debut book, 'It's Lovely To Be Here - The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent' HERE.

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