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Edwyn Collins - That Bloke From Orange Juice

By Paul Michael
1st August, 2009

After suffering two significant brain haemorrhages and then contracting MRSA, some might say that Edwyn Collins is lucky to be alive. What a sight then of pure inspiration for human endeavour to see Edwyn back on the stage at the Port Eliot Festival singing some old favourites and some new tunes to add.

Edwyn’s wife, Grace Maxwell, read extracts from her book, Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins, unveiling the alarming details of just how fragile life really is. One minute all is tickety-boo, the next, all hell is let loose. She and their son came home to find her husband on the floor having suffered his first brain haemorrhage.

Grace continued the story, outlining the events that unfolded, which seemed as though someone seriously didn’t want Edwyn wondering this earth any more. Yet another haemorrhage in hospital and then, just to put the icing on the cake, why not, MRSA.

The road to a miraculous recovery for Edwyn has been long indeed. Six months in hospital and literally having to learn to walk and talk again. She tells us of the episode when Edwyn was allowed to come home and, when driving into their street, he had no recollection of it. The starter for ten was that he at least had some memories of their home. Everything that is Edwyn today has been built upon those solitude memories, it seems.

Grace steps over to help her husband take his place: centre stage with an acoustic four-piece band. A man suffering from dysphasia, he talks as though words don’t quite fit the phrases they are meant for; as though words surprisingly pop out of his head. He says hello to us and how pleased he is to be with us. And then he sings. He really sings. The man who could not walk or talk has walked onto the stage, talked to us and is now singing. If ever there was a moment when the word, awesome, should be used, this is it!     

Two or three new songs from his latest album; yes, he is writing new material as well, and he launches into songs that perhaps just a few people in the audience had clearly forgotten about. “Oh yes, do you remember this one, darling?”

Grace had explained that prior to his suffering he had written a song called, Home Again. As she says, this song has become both haunting and ironically fitting for later events in Edwyn’s life. Bringing tears to the eyes of many in the audience, he sang what he now refers to as, “my song”.

Upon leaving the session, some people could be heard wondering why Edwyn Collins, or anyone for that matter, would put themselves in that position after their suffering. Others countered that you should be able to do the things that you are, as this is a measure of recovery. If you are a singer, you sing. Most people, including me, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Good on you and great to see you, Edwyn. 

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