James Delingpole James Delingpole

The invisible man | 12 November 2011

James Delingpole talks to John Grant, one of the most talented singer-songwriters around. So why isn’t he better known?|James Delingpole talks to John Grant, one of the most talented singer-songwriters around. So why isn’t he better known?

Besides being one of the most exquisitely melodious, sensitive singer-songwriters you’re ever likely to hear, John Grant is also one of the most beautiful men you could ever hope to meet.

I’m not the only married man to feel this way about the tortured gay pop star. As he tells me over lunch on London’s South Bank, male fans are constantly gushing after his shows about how utterly they worship and adore him. ‘Then they’ll go and ruin it by saying, “Oh, and by the way, may I introduce my wife?”’

And it’s not that the Michigan-born 42-year-old is excessively handsome or exquisitely ephebic or anything like that. In fact, with his woolly hat, bearded, potato-y features, and frayed, haunted, kicked-puppy air, Grant could quite easily be mistaken for a tramp who’s wandered out from beneath Waterloo arches rather than the man fêted by an audience including Jimmy Page and Ringo Starr as Best Live Act at this year’s Mojo awards.

No, what Grant possesses is inner beauty: inner beauty of such extraordinary, weapons-grade potency that, at a special concert the night before we meet, it has reduced the entire auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall — men and women — to a pool of teary mush. Afterwards we all rise as one to give him a massive standing ovation. It has, quite possibly, been the finest, most moving concert we’ve experienced. Grant feels the same way: ‘That night was the happiest of my life.’

If this all sounds like the most appalling sentimental gush — which of course it does — then you clearly haven’t been sufficiently exposed to Grant’s debut solo album Queen of Denmark. It’s a classic, a masterpiece, one of those records you wheel out over dinner so that all your friends go — as they will — ‘But this is amazing.

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