BILL Fay's name has forever lingered in the margins of British music, known only to a small, persistent number of fans and fellow singers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Now in his late 60s, he has finally tasted stardom, but has already retreated to the margins. He feels more comfortable there.
Fay, as you might know from the recent rash of admiring profiles, reviews and interviews, is a pianist, singer and songwriter from London. At the dawn of the 1970s he released a couple of albums that attracted critical praise but little else. His record label dropped him.
Thereafter, he had a succession of temporary jobs and home recordings. His profile grew when his early works were re-released in 1998, but he remained relatively obscure.
His new album, Life Is People – his first new band recording in 30 years, his first complete studio recording in 40 years – came about after a phone call from a young American producer who had grown up listening to Fay's music.
It's a striking example of the singer-songwriter's craft; its quietly beautiful songs repay listening.
Sales have been encouraging – the record even entered the top five in Norway – and journalists have been pestering him for interviews. But here's the rub. Nonplussed by all this media attention, he says there will be no further interviews. "I need this chapter to sort of end," he says.
He has, instead, a pile of songs at home that are calling out to be worked on. He means it, too. He has donated his proceeds from the album to Médecins Sans Frontières.
Give Life Is People a listen and you'll see what all the fuss is about. With luck, we won't have to wait another four decades for his next collection of songs.
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