Sad Songs no 6. Been Alone So Long – Peter Hammill

Peter+HammillI hesitated for a long time before putting Peter Hammill on this list, partly because listening to him is just too painful for me (for personal reasons). Also, he’s one of those artists I really loved till making the mistake of seeing him live (see also Lou Reed, Patti Smith). I went to a gig at the Barbican a few years ago and it was without doubt one of the ghastliest concert experiences of my life, pompous and fatuous. I’ve just about recovered enough to listen to Hammill again without cringeing, and so I’ve decided to choose Been Alone So Long as his saddest song. Like much of his solo output it’s a lovely simple song with literate lyrics, delivered straight, no frills (‘Been alone so long that I’ve forgotten what it’s like/To feel somebody next to me…’). I’m surprised Hammill’s songs haven’t been more often covered by other artists. Marc Almond did a great job with Vision, but that’s about all I can think of. I also love some of the crazy pretentious prog stuff that he did with Van de Graaf Generator, and indeed on his own, but his best stuff for me are the simple songs like this.

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