I’ve always felt that the most soulful feelings or the ones that speak to me at a deeper, spiritual level are the ones driven by less ostentatious things. Nothing can get more onstentatious and overly pressing than when expressing veneration for anything. So, its with this in mind that I’m thinking about Bert Jansch’s “Be My Friend” off his Santa Barbara Honeymoon Album. In 1974, Bert Jansch, one of the true pioneering folk guitarists, recorded and released one of the best folk-rock albums ever made by marrying American and British folk styles in L.A. Turnaround the prior album. However, rather than refine this laid-back style he created, he went deeper into the glop that West-Coast production can produce. Nearly everything off Santa Barbara was overly produced and forced. In an attempt to cast a larger presence he went too far in one direction.
However, this track is the brightest diamond in the rough. Over a very sparse arrangement, just his solo guitar (treated with some light phasing) and an upright bass, Bert tackles a very massive theme (it could be an amorous relationship, or at a higher level the spirit in the sky) in such a deeply grounded way. Bert’s picking is quite brilliant here, phasing, rising and dropping judiciously as his lyrics go through the various points the “Sun” affects him positively and negatively. Its Sun/God/Love veneration at the most personal of level. Sometimes the thing we praise the most, needs a very grounded reality to makes us better express its greatness when it really can’t.