A throwaway remark in one of Damien Mulley’s posts today went through me like a dagger. The Mystery Train is no more! It’s like a death in the family, or the loss of an old friend. Really, I’m in mourning. I listen to the show every evening as I make my dinner. I might as well just skip my evening meal altogether now that such a vital element of its preparation is no more. The suggestion that I simply switch over to Pet Sounds betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the Mystery Train demographic. We’re just getting too bloody old to care about indie music anymore. Has Tom Dunne played any Blind Willie Johnson recently? Any Bettye Swann? Any Buck Owens? Of course not. We’re soon to be a lost tribe, us Mystery Train passengers, vainly wandering up and down the dial in search of the occasional snatch of Lefty Frizell or Lightnin’ Slim (why do they all have such cool names?).
RTE callously dispose of this abandonment of their neediest listeners with a single sentence: “After 7 years, Mystery Train presenter John Kelly has decided to concentrate on other broadcasting commitments???. “Decided”? Perhaps, but the tone of the sentence is eerily reminiscent of government announcements that “the minister has resigned in order to spend more time with his family???. I’m aware that Kelly will be all over the telly, but that’s not really his medium (In any case, he has what’s euphemistically known as a face for radio). He’s at his best playing records by and telling me stories about American musicians with names like Charlie Feathers, Jelly Roll Morton or Dr. John, The Night-Tripper. Oh, he’s cost me a fortune in CDs that I simply had to buy after hearing tracks played on the show, but that was a cost gladly borne. No price is too great for a Willie Hightower retrospective, as I’m sure you’ll all agree. So sure, maybe I’ll save a little money come September, but I’ll be the poorer in more important ways. The Train has left the station. Dinner will never taste quite so good again.