Spotlight On Absent Friends: Joby Talbot

Nov, 2020

Beatles, Blind Optimism & Beautiful Times

Abbey Road Studio 2 is a magical place. The echoes of all the great music that’s been made there are weathered into the walls. Put your ear close and listen carefully – you can still hear what the The Beatles were up to back in ’63.

The first DC’s string session I conducted was in that room, and so was the last. July 2003: what luxury… three whole days in Studio 2 (so my diary tells me) laying down the orchestra on 'Absent Friends'. By then we kind of knew what we were doing. You can hear as much on 'Our Mutual Friend'. At least I hope you can. Eight years previously, when we somehow bluffed our way past security to record a scratch orchestra of friends, and friends of friends on 'The Dogs And The Horses', not so much.

Miraculously we got away with it that day – luck and blind optimism winning out against inexcusable hubris, rank incompetence, and a budget of about 20p – and, even more miraculously, were then given the opportunity to go and get away with it again and again all over the world.

Eight years of speed learning on the job – frantically scribbling violin parts in the back of the tour bus, endless cups of tea at Neil’s various flats while he taught me the songs and explained what he wanted the arrangements to do. Incredible gigs, terrible gigs, the amazing musicians we got to work with, the terrible musicians we never wanted to work with again, the places we got to visit and the people we got to meet, the 8AM airport hangovers, the endless sound checks, the sticky floors and stale beer stink of a gig at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the smoke and heat and sweat of the same room five hours later, the constant movement, the endless wisdom of roadies, the sea of ever changing faces and voices. What a blast. I learned so much and had 100% fun. A beautiful time. Plus we made some great music along the way. Happy days.

Joby Talbot, November 2020.
Photo: Johan Persson (courtesy of Joby's website)