My Darling Clementine are a duo comprising husband and wife team Michael Weston-King and Lou Dalgleish. Their music deals with the classic Country and Western themes of loving, cheating and sorrow. Mark Billingham is the author of a series crime fiction stories featuring Tom Thorne, a Country and Western loving anti-hero working for the Met in London.
Tonight, Billingham is presenting an original story called “The Other Half” and has got My Darling Clementine to collaborate on the music. The show involved Billingham reading from a lectern while the band play relevant songs at various points in the story. A backdrop is used, onto which photographs are projected that help with the imagery as the tale unfolds.
The story revolves around Marcia, a former Las Vegas showgirl who now works in a dilapidated bar in Memphis close to Sun Studios. She spends her days working double shifts, complaining about the fact that her daughter never contacts her. Meanwhile, all sorts of characters frequent the bar with their own tales of loss and heartbreak.
The music provided is a mix of new songs specially written for the show alongside material from My Darling Clementine’s last two albums. “The Other Half”, the title track for the show, is a Patsy Cline type epic wedding song about a wronged man and his wronged wife. There’s also a song about domestic violence that says it all in the title, “No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won’t Stand By Him)”.
Despite the themes of both the story and the songs that illustrate them, Mark Billingham brings the whole thing to a relatively happy ending. He joins the band on guitar for one last song, singing a couple of verses with great enthusiasm. A good story illustrated by some poignant songs, “The Other Half” is also available as a CD with the complete story in a booklet. Well worth checking out but even better seeing it live.