If Britain had any sense then the late Jake Thackray would have been revered as a national treasure, just as George Brassens and Jacques Brel were in France and Belgium. Jake wrote and sang in the chansonnier tradition, dealing with everything that life threw up in a passionate, funny, wry and ironic way.
He had a deep, rich, baritone voice and could play his nylon strung classical guitar like a demon. His songs went beyond the three or four chords and simple chorus that were the bill of fare on the folk scene of the 2nd wave of the folk revival; they were intricate, jazz-flavoured works of art that, unlike many other “singer songwriter” creations, have more than stood the test of time.
Jake’s work was marked out, above anything else, by his humanity and his love of people. His life was complex and he had a problem with alcohol that was to blight the latter part of it, but his work generally celebrated the good in mankind, and where his pen and wit did become barbed, in songs like The Brigadier and The Poor Sod, there was more compassion than venom.
I knew him well and had the utmost respect for him as a man and as an artist. People have compared him to Flanders and Swann or Noel Coward; in the opinion of many Jake soars way above them.
John Watterson (Fake Thackray) who does a wonderful tribute show to Jake is currently writing Jake’s Biography.