Johnny Flynn, “Shore to Shore”
This is pretty much why I never made it very far as a professional music writer. Back in the summer of 2008, I read about a school of young London musicians—Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling, Emmy the Great—who were playing folk music, or folk-pop music, or something along those lines. (I interviewed them and wrestled with the nomenclature here.) I got really excited about them, and listened to them for a long time. In fact, I’m still listening to them. When people ask me what I’ve heard that’s new, I say, “this new school of young London musicians … Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn …,” even though it’s been about two years now. I’m vaguely aware that newer bands and musicians are piling up all around me, and that if I listened to them I might hear something else that I would like. My boyfriend plugs in his new iPod Touch when we’re in the car and we listen to The Royal Alberta Advantage and the Golden Splinters and the XXX. Sure, fine. But really I’d be happy just to listen to the same few acoustic singer-songwriters that I like. You could say that my tastes are less than catholic. I prefer to see it as a kind of loyalty.
I should note, though, that it was purely by chance that I heard these musicians in the first place. Caleb and I are fans of this totally far-out English Shakespeare troupe called Propeller that comes to the Brooklyn Academy of Music ever other year or so, and a while back we saw them put on The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night. Not too long after, I was poking around the Guardian’s on-line music pages and saw a little blurb that read something like, “Shakespearean actor also plays folk music,” and I recognized the picture of Johnny Flynn, who had acted in the Propeller production—he had played Sebastian. The article mentioned Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale, et al. But they might not have appeared on my radar otherwise. They’ve gotten pretty scant press on this side of the Atlantic.
This song, “Shore to Shore,” from Johnny Flynn’s album A Larum, is the one I put on any mix CDs I’ve made over the past two years. One night we were listening to NPR and there was an interview with Johnny, and he said that he got the idea for the song while reading a newspaper article about a young girl who was struck and killed by a bus.