Lily Allen and Evan Dando are among the artists who pay tribute to the late singer-songwriter Tarka Cordell on the new tribute album ‘Tarka and Friends: Life’ which is out TODAY on on Room 609 Records.
Tarka was born to music. In the first springtime of his life, his father Denny Cordell produced Procul Harem’s classic ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. Small enough to hide under Joe Cocker’s Steinway on the legendary ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ tour, Tarka eavesdropped on the nascent sound of the 1970s. At 11, he learned early guitar licks from JJ Cale and kicked a ball on the beach in Malibu with Bob Marley, while the Wailers jammed on the deck. His passion for producing was inspired as he watched Denny at the mixing decks on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ eponymous debut album.
Later mentoring came by way of Keith Richards, who did all he could to whip Tarka’s raw promise into shape. But Tarka was too easily distracted by pretty girls. This, coupled with his erratic work ethic, made Keith throw up his hands and walk away.
Though Keith may have despaired, his protégé had been paying some attention. Tarka went away and made something of his fortunate heritage and his God-given talent. He produced, he wrote songs, he collaborated, he played live. Then he gave us his first, and last, album ‘Wide Awake in a Dream’. He poured his soul into the songs – his unflinchingly romantic view of life; his killer belief in the beauty of the human heart; his hurt. He recorded the album at Bearsville Studios outside New York, with the ghosts of the greats listening on.
But as is sometimes the way, what nourishes us destroys us. The love that Tarka felt – the love that courses through his music – was too much for him to live with. In April 2008 after a sun-soaked day in the garden with his family, he returned to his London flat and took his life.
After Tarka’s death his great friend Alex Elena and brother Barney Cordell had the idea of getting some of Tarka’s friends together to record his music in their own voices. Other artists heard his music along the way and asked to be a part of this magical and unexpected journey.
The album commences with Ruby Friedman’s contributing her soulful vocal gift to the first single and title track, ‘Life’, and she later returns on the tender ‘Home or Out of Range’. Evan Dando performs ‘Lovely New York’, a song which Tarka had written with him in mind, while long-term friend Lily Allen teams up with Tarka’s childhood buddy Louis Eliot (Kinky Machine / Rialto) for a heartbreaking take on ‘Shelter You’. Scoundrels & Dirty Gentlemen deliver ‘Girls Keith’, a song which Tarka dedicated to his legendary mentor, and Alice Temple (previously of Eg and Alice, alongside Eg White) closes the album with her haunting rendition of ‘Lullaby’.
All artist royalties from the album will be donated to two charities in honour of Tarka’s memory: CALM, the campaign against living miserably, exists to prevent male suicide in the UK – the biggest killer of young men in the UK; and The Jeevika Trust, which tackles the roots of poverty in India which lie in the nation’s 600,000 villages and impacts upon the lives of a quarter of a billion people.
You can download the album NOW at tarkamusic.com