Number fifteen . . .
15 Happy New Year Beverley
More Jews. It’s written by Randy Newman and sung by a 19-year-old woman from Coventry who was born Beverley Kutner and who later played the Monterey Pop Festival, invited over by her long-term friend, Paul Simon — she has a speaking role on the Bookends album.
Ralph McTell talked about her in an interview — they played together in a folk outfit called the Levee Breakers (oh, dem cotton fields of Mitcham and Merton). ‘Beverley at that time was very strikingly beautiful in the kind of Mediterranean-looking way. The boys all loved her. She was only about nineteen. She sang with such maturity and expression. She was absolutely fantastic.’
Then, in 1969, she met John Martyn, with whom she had two children and made a series of albums. Despite her contribution, as singer and writer, her name only appeared on the first two. Her career never recovered. Martyn hit her, too. (I met him a little later, at a show in south London. He didn’t hit me but he wasn’t nice, either.) One of her songs was Primrose Hill — later sampled by Fat Boy Slim, for North West Three, the London postal district which borders the hill.
Cut in 1966, this was her debut single, the first release on Decca’s ‘hip’ label, Deram. This was an attempt to turn her into a Ready Steady Go! girl, like Lulu, Dusty, Cilla, Sandie, that kind of thing. It didn’t work. Well, it wasn’t a hit, of even the smallest kind. Like so many records from that period, the band includes Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass), Nicky Hopkins (keyboards) and Andy White (drums).
I happened to meet Beverley’s sister a few years ago, not far from the location of Beverley’s most famous song, Primrose Hill. She was still bitter about what John Martyn had done to her sister’s career and life. Really bitter. Really really bitter. Though, still, can it really be called bitter when it’s so rooted in truth?
Next Tom Waits, me . . . and his wife