On his ABC (Australia) radio show The Inside Sleeve last week, Paul Gough introduced a couple of tracks from Chance And Time, the last album from James Varda who died in June this year. He introduced the section with a few words about how he came to know Varda's music in the late 80s through the John Leckie-produced LP, Hunger. He spoke about the strength of the songwriting and how the record had stayed with him over the years. He played Beside The Sea, the haunting penultimate track on Chance And Time, and Only Love, which, in a sense is the centrepiece, closing the Chance section of the album. For me - and I've listened to the album many times - there was something different about hearing the songs on a radio programme broadcast from thousands of miles away. It lacked the static and hiss of an old time analogue radio show, but felt no less distant.
It's a year since Chance And Time was released and nearly five months since James died. He would, I'm sure, have been pleased to know his songs were being played and that there were people listening to his music. These songs are too beautiful and moving not to find a place in the world. A year on they have lost none of their life-affirming power. Varda's achievement in creating a lexicon for cancer in line with his own experience, and one that refuses to resort to cliché, is inspiring in itself. But listening now, what comes across is just how much this is an album about life and love of life. The writing is honest and true; the playing and performances exquisite. The sentiment seems only to deepen as it becomes weathered by time. I'm sure I won't be alone among those who knew him and think about him not just today, but every day, to raise a glass tonight. Chance And Time is a great record. Pass it on.