Famous Blue Raincoat
The track they made was seven minutes long, twice the length of a normal single. Because the band was winning the confidence of the label, and because Sandy Denny had built up a following and Fairport Convention had had a hit with Si Tu Dois Partir, then it was agreed that it could be released with an Irish song performed by all four of them on the other side. No one expected much radio play; instead, they hoped that a new tour with Martin Carthy as support might help the sales.
Lisa remembered that they were somewhere in the north of England when they were told what John Peel had said about their new recording. He made them into a cutting edge acoustic band, brave enough to release a seven-minute single, making a new sound. He made them seem almost hip and counter-culture. And then the following week Famous Blue Raincoat was played just after midnight on Radio Luxembourg. A week later, their single was hovering outside the Top 50. It began to be played on Radio 1, mostly being faded out after the first three minutes.
On one of those nights when their single was in the Top 30, an American journalist came to a packed-out concert in Glasgow and came backstage later. He was smooth, talkative and knowledgeable about the business. He turned up in London as soon as they were back there and wanted, he said, to attend one of their recording sessions to write a long article about them which he would sell to a magazine back home. His name was Matt Huling, but he became known as Puffy to the band from the moment he expressed approval when Shane told him that their next single was going to be a slow version of Puff The Magic Dragon. Matt did not have a sense of humour; instead, it seemed to Lisa, he was skilled at displaying resentment, when he thought he was being mocked or ignored. Since Shane mocked him half the time and the others ignored him when they could, he had many opportunities to show how he felt, his face pale, his brow furrowed, his broad frame almost threatening.
In the weeks when Famous Blue Raincoat failed to make the Top 20 and then dropped out of the charts completely, Matt did not disappear as they hoped he would. He waited, it seemed to Lisa, to be sneered at by Shane and spent much of his time in their company in a sort of seething silence. Slowly, he stopped mentioning the magazine article he was meant to be writing. His presence, Lisa thought, made all of them uncomfortable, yet so apparent was Matt's vulnerability that none of them had the courage to tell him to go.
As soon as they had returned to London to work on the new album, it occurred to Lisa that Phil had known before she did that Matt and Julie had become lovers. He took Matt's presence for granted, listened to him when he intervened and nodded when he made suggestions. No one, however, seemed to have told Shane about Matt and Julie; he responded to the American with blunt incomprehension and rudeness when he came into the studio with a list of songs they should record, more up tempo material, as he put it - essentially, Lisa thought, three-minute pop songs which might suit Julie's voice. It was clear to Lisa that when Julie suggested that they should bring in some session musicians, including a drummer, the idea had come from Matt.