PLEDGE WEEK: “Blues Run the Game” by Jackson C Frank
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This episode is part of Pledge Week 2022. Every day this week, I'll be posting old Patreon bonus episodes of the podcast which will have this short intro. These are short, ten- to twenty-minute bonus podcasts which get posted to Patreon for my paying backers every time I post a new main episode -- there are well over a hundred of these in the archive now. If you like the sound of these episodes, then go to and subscribe for as little as a dollar a month or ten dollars a year to get access to all those bonus episodes, plus new ones as they appear. Click below for the transcript Transcript Before I start, a warning. Even though this episode is short it deals with many, many, upsetting subjects. If you're likely to be upset by a story dealing with the death and disfigurement of small children, disability, mental illness, gun violence and eye injuries, you're probably best off skipping this episode altogether, as it deals with these subjects right from after the first excerpt of music until the end. It's not a happy story. In this week's main episode we talk briefly about a record that Paul Simon produced while he was in Britain, before "The Sound of Silence" became a big hit. The performer whose record he produced only released that one album in his lifetime, but it's a record that had an outsized influence on the British folk-music scene. So today, we're going to have a look at the tragic life of Jackson C Frank, and at "Blues Run the Game": [Excerpt: Jackson C Frank, "Blues Run the Game"] Jackson C Frank's life started to go badly, irrevocably, wrong, when he was just eleven years old. His family lived in Buffalo, New York, where the winters are long and cold, and Jackson was a Baby Boomer. Because of the tremendous number of new children going through the school system, the brick schoolhouse at the school he attended had been augmented with an annexe, made out of wood, and he was in that annexe, in a music lesson, when the boiler exploded and set fire to it. Jackson was one of the lucky ones. That fire took the life of fifteen of his classmates, and spurred a national movement towards banning timber buildings for schools and the institution of fire drills, which up to that point had not been a thing. Jackson got thrown out of a window by a teacher, and the snow put out the flames on his back, meaning he "only" suffered burns over sixty percent of his body, scarring him for life. He had to spend a year in hospital, have a tracheotomy, and have a metal plate put in his head. He developed thyroid problems, got calcium deposits that built up over the years and frequently left him in agony, and always walked with a limp and only had limited movement in his arms. Many celebrities did things to comfort the children, who became nationally known. Kirk Douglas came to the hospital to visit them, and later in his childhood Jackson was able to go and meet Elvis, who became a big inspiration for the young man. He spent his teenage years going around the local music scene, including spending a long time with a friend who later became known as John Kay of Steppenwolf, but then when he turned twenty-one he got a massive insurance payout that had been held in trust for him. I've seen different numbers for this -- it was either fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, and in modern terms that would be about ten times that much. Being a young man, he didn't want to invest it, he wanted to buy expensive cars. He wanted an Aston Martin and a Bentley, and Britain was where they made Aston Martins and Bentleys, so he caught a boat to England, and on the trip over started writing songs, including the one that would become his best known: [Excerpt: Jackson C Frank, "Blues Run the Game"] Once he was in the UK, Frank moved into Judith Piepe's flat, where he started a relationship with an eighteen-year-old nurse, who was also trying to be a singer. Frank encouraged her to follow her dreams and become a professional,
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