Last night I went to Ronnie Scott's in the kind company of Clive Davis to see Jimmy Webb. It was a deeply nostalgic experience. For one thing it was years since I'd been to Ronnie's. It seems not to have changed except that, as in all nightclubs, the smoking ban has had its effect. (Imagine: a jazz club without a cigarette haze). It was Webb's songs, though, that really took me back; all the way to the front room of my childhood home on Sunday lunchtimes listening to Family Favourites while, in the kitchen, my mother's gravy thickened.
The songs that evoked this scene most strongly were By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston (hits for Glen Campbell) and MacArthur Park (Richard Harris and, lest we forget, Donna Summer). He sang all these to his own piano accompaniment, interspersing each number with name-dropping patter - Harry Nilsson, "Artie" Garfunkel, "Mister Sinatra" - that was charming enough to be forgivable. He reminisced a little about wild nights in London, the more engagingly for his describing a little of his Oklahoma farm boy upbringing. I especially liked this yarn:
"I fell in love with the first three English girls I met here...then I found out they all talked that way."
I'm pleased Mr Webb was beguiled by a certain kind of Englishness. After all, his version of America still beguiles me.