I interviewed Edwyn Collins in June of 1995, one of the first I did after taking the job that brought me to New York. "A Girl Like You" was currently a hit all over the world, but not yet in America, and he came into our little studio and, in addition to answering a load of questions, played a couple songs acoustic — the title track to his new album, Gorgeous George, and an old Orange Juice nugget I requested, "Consolation Prize."
It wasn’t till after he left that I realized he left his guitar tuner at our studio. He played Tramps about a month later, and I brought it with me to the show, for some reason thinking he’d need it, snuck downstairs after the show to the dressing rooms and offered it back to him. "I already bought a new one," he told me. (Of course he did, duh!) "Keep it as a memento." For some reason, I can still he the way he said "memento" in that sort of sing-song Scottish accent of his, drawing out the last syllable. I still use it as my guitar tuner, though my guitar stays in its case most of the time these days.
Edwyn is still playing his, even though he needs someone to do the strumming half — his right side is still suffering from the two massive strokes he suffered in 2005. He should’ve died. And when he didn’t, he should’ve never been able to walk or talk again, let alone sing or play guitar. But his is a slow, yet still miraculous recovery, which makes his new album, Home Again, all the more resonant.
Recorded, but not mixed, before his stroke, the album nonetheless sounds like it was made after, by someone who knew just how lucky he was. (Most prescient: the album closer, "I Cried," begins with the line "I fell down and banged my head.") There’s also only one obvious stab at the charts — the warm first single, "You’ll Never Know," that’s just dying for an Avalanches remix. Most of it is acoustic, contemplative and a great showcase for Collins’ warm, warbly baritone. Welcome back.
No word on an American release for Home Again, but it’s out in the UK on Monday. (Buy it.) You can see the video for "You’ll Never Know" (directed by Ollie Evans [man behind most of the Klaxons’ clips]) here.