Some time around 2008, Mr O’Elves did me a mix tape including a song entitled “The Sexual Loneliness of Jesus Christ” by Jackie Leven. It starts with an unemployed Scottish man talking about the psychological impact of being out of work and is then followed by a confusing array of keyboards and harmonies and this immense but quite strange vocal. After a few listens, it was consistently making me cry. However, I didn’t dwell further on Jackie Leven until Mr O’Elves invited me to one of his gigs in 2009. At the time I used to try and film a song at each gig I went to, although I think it’s a fairly naff thing to do and I tire of people’s inability to watch something without getting their phone out and filming. However, with Jackie it was hard to film one song as his constant patter and his immense charisma meant that I was filming for long periods to the point that the camera was shaking because my arm was giving way.
In all I ended up filming about 40 minutes of the concert and from a good spot 4 rows back and dead centre. I put a couple of tracks up on YouTube and a few people sent messages telling what the titles of the songs were and asking if I had any more. So I put more up and a few more messages came; one person even sending me all his favourite Jackie songs. Little did I know that I had become the unwitting curator of a Jackie Leven Archive. Tragically in 2010, Jackie Leven passed away after releasing yet another breath-taking album.
I thought nothing more about the videos until recently when I logged back into my YouTube account and noticed that it has an analysis tool. Here I noticed that my videos had been watched 400 times in the last month and that people had watched 1000 minutes of my footage.
I checked and there is a definite shortage of decent Jackie Leven videos on YouTube. What all of us in the know realise is that Jackie was a criminally underrated artist who has left the world a rich legacy that people seem to continue to discover. And if my experience is anything to go by, they also get involved in debating his genius. This next song prompted one Aiden Wylie to declare it a socialist anthem sparking a furious debate.
Also, one song included a story berating a well known bank which also not only sparked comments on-line but, according to an insider, was also discussed a high levels within the bank.
One very touching element of this was that in the few days after his death the number of views peaked at 600 per day and 21 people liked and sent messages like this one from Bob Buss:
“This man was a unique fucking genius. One day he will be recognised for the great artist he really was. RIP Jackie.”
I couldn’t have put it any better myself.