Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Sam Patlove
It feels like this space should be empty. There should be nothing here, for everything is so fully exclaimed by this man - with his music, with the way he visited us, with the things that he's endured over the last six years. We all likely have in our minds an idea of what Edwyn Collins sounds like, the kind of man he might be based on that ubiquitous 1990s hit "A Girl Like You," and his classic work with Orange Juice prior to that, but it's just a dusting of what he actually should get credit for. Collins has been on the comeback trail since he suffered two devastating cerebral hemorrhages in 2005 that forced him to have to relearn how to speak and communicate. Two years ago, he returned to the stage in London, and even as it was a triumphant return, he still has to take it easy, tiring quickly and needing to pace himself with live performances. Down in Austin, during the South By Southwest music festival this spring, Collins had a thin schedule, promoting his excellent new album, "Losing Sleep," but not doing too much. It was truly an honor to have him pay us a visit over at Big Orange and we feel that this session is the man at his best. He sounds dignified and as powerful as he's ever sounded. The two old Orange Juice songs, the new songs and the hit are void of any elements that could be touched upon as weaker moments from their original versions. He sounds and performs like a man who hasn't had to deal with the unbelievable setbacks and difficulties that he's been forced to deal with for over half a decade. His famous baritone is spot-on and actually feels as if it works with the moods of the songs in new and interesting ways that could have never been imagined before. He is a man who's overcome so much and to hear him perform the way he does here - it could make you misty. To see him, in a physical state that still bears the obvious affects of the neurological trauma and damage that he endured, insist upon walking on his own, shuffling his half-working legs, feet, hands and arms to get where he needs to be is about as inspiring as it gets. You want to help him, offer your assistance, but he doesn't need you. We think that he'd be offended at the offer. No one's helping him as he makes the solo walk from the street, over the gravelly pathway to the studio entrance. His wife and son come later, knowing that Collins has it under control, that stubborn and wonderfully resilient man, with the voice that keeps on giving. He sings on the title track from his newest album, "And it's getting me down/I'm losing sleep/I'm holding on/I'm insecure about my life/About my work/And now I know/The things I hold/Are the things I miss/About my life." He's a man, with a far-reaching spirit, who's been prematurely forced to deal with life on a different scale, with strange new challenges and rewards. He's coping with his new life and embracing it for all the strange new insight it's giving him. May he continue collecting it forever and ever. May he get around, write and sing as if everything depends on it, forever and ever.