Top critical review
A Dour Tour
18 February 2011
As a great admirer of James Yorkston's songwriting -- Tortoise Regrets Hare is in particular a magnificent lyric with so much implied -- I was hoping for a lot more from this. Although, in his recorded work he comes across as quite a moody individual, haunted by ghosts of lost loves etc, in this book he comes over as a genial bore trundling around the British Isles with little on his mind beyond the decor of his next B&B bedroom or where to find a decent vegetarian restaurant. He never has much to say about any of the many gigs he plays beyond the audience was OK, I was OK, it was nice to have a whisky after and so on. One learns nothing about his writing or his life apart from the fact that he has a number of musician friends [none of whom I've ever heard of], all jolly good sorts who follow him around Britain just glad to play for a pittance in sundry obscure bars. I can only assume that Yorkston was determined not to offend anyone and so left all the interesting detail of his recent career and inner life out deliberately. Unfortunately with this kind of autobiography, if you can't say something nasty,(or at least genuinely amusing)....don't bother! [Also Yorkston's tendency to refer to women as 'wifeys', as in 'trolley-wifey' for air hostess, is pretty teeth-grinding. Is this a Scottish affectation? I don't think so. I hope not. It's not meant to be whimsically humorous, is it?]
I'm determined that this half-hearted effort won't put me off James Yorkston's music and am greatly looking forward to seeing him play in the near future. Having seen JY a couple of years back i know he's a sharpwitted near genius -- his ability to apparently improvise a song on the spot was unforgettable. I just didn't see any sign of sharp wits in this book -- did the editor, perhaps, remove all the good bits?