Saturday Video Roundup: the quiet acoustic genius of Bert Jansch

Let’s listen to a song first.

I hope everybody took a moment yesterday to read Wufnik’s outstanding piece on Bert Jansch, who died on Wednesday. I’m hoping that our other Boomer music guru, Jim Booth, will find time to weigh in, as well. For now, though, I wanted to offer a few comments of my own.

I pretty much never knew Bert Jansch’s music. He was of the previous generation and his genre was folk, a style that I respect but that I don’t listen to very much. I knew of Jansch, certainly, but the sad truth is that there’s just not enough time in the world to focus on all the music that’s deserving of attention. If I tried, I’d have to give up doing things like eating, sleeping, earning a living, reading all the great books that I haven’t gotten to yet, and by the way, working on my own artistic pursuits. So when Jim or Wuf thrash me for not knowing an artist I ought to know, all I can do is throw up my hands and remind them that there are only so many hours in the day. (I also remind them of a few of the great artists I know that they may have missed. Sometimes this works, but not always.)

In any case, Wufnik’s obit sent me running to YouTube, where I found some examples of Jansch’s work. Predictably, I was blown away. Wuf is right. Jim is right. Armies of music critics were right.

Simply put, Bert Jansch could freakin’ play. And like a lot of folks, I don’t usually associate guitar virtuosity with folk. Sure, I know there are folkies who can play, but I was raised in a context that worshipped the Electric Guitar Gods, and quiet plinking on an acoustic rarely rouses the thunder deities of Axeheim.

So I sat and sampled a few vids of Jansch and his understated magic, just marveling at the technique, the craft and the emotive power of it all.

Today’s SVR is dedicated to the memory of Bert Jansch, then, a man respected by his peers and loved by fans. They will miss you, and I regret that I only found my way to your work after you died.

It’s also dedicated to all the other incredibly talented musicians out there whose brilliance I don’t know about, but probably should. I hope I find your music before you die, too….

And now, some music. This is “Black Waterside.” And if you’re thinking this is one flute solo away from being a Jethro Tull track, join the club. I’m guessing one Ian Anderson was a fan.

One more….

Happy Saturday, everyone, and may the wind be at your back, Bert….



  • thanks for this!

  • and some more:

    Bert and John Renbourn—goodbye pork pie hat

    bert, Johnny Marr and Bernard butler—The Rier Bank (2000)

    bert—toy balloon

    bert, Ralph McTell—moonshine (1975)

    bert—A woman like you (Pentangle, 1968)

    bert, paul wassif—black cat blues (2010)

    bert—carnival (2000)

    bert—sally free and easy (1993)

    pentangle—Sally go round the roses (1969) (bert and john on guitars)

    pentangle—When I get home (1970)

    bert—When I get home (2006)

    bert and john—Soho (2011)—probably one of his last appearances

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