There are many, many reasons I feel blessed. Most of all, as a musician, I feel blessed I was 19 in 1971.
1971 was the iridescent, luminous – and so far not repeated – moment in time, when the best music on earth was also the most popular music on earth.
I could theorise about this for hours. Many have. In the end, it was a confluence of the blues, the wars and our reaction to them, leading to rock and roll, civil rights, more wars and our reaction to them and the maturing of the secret language of youth into an unerring sense of togetherness.
Most of all, I feel blessed that I was 19 when the most utterly enchanting human being there ever was wrote, sang and released a record that captured the whole of my youth, my heart, my soul, my hope, my sadness, my fear, my joy in 36 minutes of egg-shell thin translucent glass.
That record made me realise many things. First, I had to try to be that good. Second, I would never be that good. Third, nor would anyone else ever be that good.
Years later, when I turned from singing and writing to producing, I made one vow. I would only work with people whose gift for singing and writing was greater than mine. That kept me happy and fulfilled. But at the end of that part of my life, I was no closer to achieving a recording that even came close.
There is no other record I would feel able to say that about, without drawing rebuke and maybe hostility from artists I’ve worked with. But I don’t fear that at all.
There are a 100,000 gifted, brilliant, profoundly talented musicians, singers and writers, past and present, from all corners, who would doff their hat and say ‘I’m not as good as that. No-one is.’