I was introduced to the work of A.D Winans by our mutual friend, the New York based, Russian poet Aleksey Dayen.
We met in Swansea, Wales, in 2009, where we were both performing at a poetry/music event.
We jammed together - had a lot of fun and as it was my birthday, ended up, outside in the rain sipping Jameson's Irish whiskey from the bottle.
Before we parted, we decided/vowed that somehow we would make an album together.
We kept in close contact, sometimes on a daily basis and in the summer of 2010 he sent me some of Allan Winan's work and told me he was planning on filming a documentary on his life and work and invited me to write some songs/music for it.
It was to be called Bleeding Words and Restless Ghosts - The Story of San Francisco Poet A.D. Winans.
A few weeks later I was in Scotland for the graduation of my daughter, Amy, from Edinburgh University ... Aleksey was in San Francisco with Al scouting locations and taking lots of photos which I collected on the road from friend's computers and internet cafes (Aleksey was a gifted photographer).
Shortly after he sent me this scan of the artwork for the planned film.
Allan sent me some CDs and copies of his writing ... I was electrified by it.
I've been performing, writing, recording for a long time ... I have been lucky inasmuch as I've never run out of ideas but - discovering Dayen's and Winan's words was truly inspiring.
I had collaborated a few times before but never with poets ... and non rhyming schemes.
I've spent my time working from the templates of all the great songwriters in rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, pop and country who came before me.
Being asked to work with these writings was a gift.
At Folsom Prison is my musical setting of A.D. Winans poem. This version has me fooling around with some train sound overdubs ... Foolin' with Folsom.
I don't know yet if this track/version is a demo or if it will be the final one ... was done lo-fi on a Sony MiniDisc and an Apple Mac.
I set three of Allan's poems to music for the film, this is one of them. It comes from when he was involved in teaching programmes at Folsom.
The poem seemed like a gift from heaven to me, because of the obvious Johnny Cash connotations.
Johnny Cash had sat on my shoulder like a guardian angel from the first time I picked
up a guitar and tried to be a singer/writer.
I got to meet him and spend time with him in London in 1996.
I wish I'd had Al's poem in my pocket then, we'd have had a lot more to talk about.
Aleksey was to use three of my songs/tracks for the planned film. All being my adaptations of poems by A.D. Winans, they are; The Old Men of Aquatic Park, At Folsom Prison and On San Francisco Streets, the being my lyric based on Allan's poem of the same name.
Aleksy Dayen passed away suddenly in New York, November 2010 at the the age of 38. At the time of his death I was also working on setting some of his poems to music.
My working title for the project is From Kiev to Coney Island (Suite for Aleksey Dayan and A.D. Winans).
The world of a singer, a writer can be a strange one.
You're driving home from somewhere, when the rest of the world's asleep.
I'm lucky that I saw Gene Vincent when I was about 15 years old and he changed my life.
I saw; met, played with Aleksey Dayen many years later and he changed my life too.
When I write songs I weigh the words differently in my hands.
He loved what I wrote but not without criticism ... I took note of his comments.
I wrote him one time to tell that I'd spent time with Jet Harris.
He told me that as a child in Kiev he loved The Shadows.
I recall sending him Sam Cooke's version of Howling Wolf's Little Red Rooster. I began working on an album project - the writings of A.D. Winans and Aleksey Dayen and some songs I've written as tributes/homages to Aleksey.
The Boy From Kiev, a song I wrote for Aleksey on learning of his death, was published by Shabdaguchha, a Bengali bilingual poetry magazine which is run by Hassanal Abdullah in New York and by Leah Angstman's Alternating Current in Poiesis #5
Aleksey was to use three of my songs/tracks for the planned film. All being my adaptations of poems by A.D. Winans, they are; The Old Men of Aquatic Park, At Folsom Prison and On San Francisco Streets.
Some more audio on on this project can be found here
Originally published 2012