Lyndon's

SONGDOG DIARY

A lapidary log.....

Diary dates

November 2004
Mid-October 2004
Late September - Early October 2004
Monday 19th July - Wednesday 21st July 2004
Friday 9th July - Sunday 12th July 2004
Monday 21st June 2004
Early June 2004
Mid-April 2004
Monday 15th March 2004
Early February 2004
New Year 2004

DIARY

 

New Year 2004

Thanks a lot for the sitar I didn’t get, you cyber-Scrooges, you tightwads of the Infobahn you……………...

Wracked with hiraeth I spent Xmas in Wales (I get so homesick I’m homesick even when I’m home). “You cannot live in the present, / At least not in Wales” said R.S. Thomas --- well, there certainly are ghosts in every hedge and bush, vicar ….. On Xmas eve, after dark, we took the car out and road-tested the new record, i.e. drove up and down three valleys with the new stuff playing, to see how it felt. (We used to do this kind of thing to records like “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” or “Desire” and I wanted it to feel the same, all due allowances made for them being Immortals, etc.). So --- Pengam, Gelligaer, Bargoed, Deri, Fochrhiw, Dowlais, Tredegar, Brithdir, Markham. On New Tredegar mountain, as “Childhood Skies” played, a wild-eyed cow loomed out of the fog into the headlights like Io still reeling from Zeus’s magic.

Re our noticeboard: Sometimes I’d like to really get stuck in re some of the stuff that goes up there --- issue bollockings, slay some minotaurs, take a few scalps, whatever, but Corrinne never lets me. A matter of discretion, she says. So I tell her: “But Corrinne, Isaiah Berlin said life isn’t worth living unless one can be indiscreet to intimate friends!” (and that’s how I think of you, readers, as intimate friends, even though you didn’t club together for that sitar) but she won’t have it…. She’s in Cornwall till next week but now she’s off the cigarettes she can easily fling a handbag that far, so I’ll move on.


Back in London, Dec. 28th. I heard this wonderful stuff playing in a record-store, as modern as the breath you just took, and it tuned out to be David Bowie’s new record. “ I’ll never get old ” he sings, and it’s true, he really never will. (Let the man be an example to us all.)…. And I bought “Lifted” by Bright Eyes because so many people say him and Songdog sound so alike/are working in the same area. I like his record mucho but I can’t say I hear any real similarities …..? If I had to pick an Album-Of-The-Year I’d pick Damien Rice’s “O” (even though it came out in 2002 I’d still pick it) or M. Ward’s “Transfiguration of Vincent” (which didn’t make anyone’s poll anywhere. In a favourable review in WIRE magazine Ian Penman said it was too lo-fi and weird to be a Really Big Deal, but I don’t get that argument.). Anyway, for six months, I’ve been playing Joni’s records over and over -- all of them, any of them, even “Wild Things Run Fast” – because she is just the fucking best. (And I like the way she looks so unmoved in the crowd-scene finale of “The Last Waltz”) . …… Best films? “Donnie Darko” (2002 again, yes, but I didn’t see it until recently) and David Cronenberg’s “Spider”.


Spent the whole holiday period just like you did, eating and drinking too much crap. And prey to a multitude of separate impressions, any notion of an ordering self gone AWOL somewhere and just a few days past seeming like ages ago?.….And then it’s New Year, time of fresh beginnings, resolutions, another chance for golfers to just give it up.

Christina Rossetti: “Does the road wind uphill all the way? / Yes, to the very end ”.

So I wish you all a very happy new year. (And may you stay forever young).

 

 

Early February 2004

What a day. Camberwell Road in the rain! Burgess Park feels like the Bouville public garden in "La Nausée". And me feeling about as chipper as Lindow Man ……

I hate this period, the waiting around while stuff gets sorted. It feels like the Christmas cuckoo has moved in to squat my life. "Man gets used to everything -- the beast," said Raskolnikov, (usually so reliable a guide) but it definitely isn't true as regards me and this enforced hiatus; I feel like Vladimir and Estragon all rolled up in one. We're already working on new songs, but as for the rest I've been reduced to what is usually referred to as 'getting on with my life' (that phrase always sounds like a euphemism to me, in anyone's mouth). Some days are as dull as property prices. I may as well take up fucking golf! (No no no no, I didn't mean that last bit, kids! I was just being flippant! If anyone ever suggests golf to you --- ever! --- even someone you know and trust! --- then you just say no and walk away, OK?).

So I've seen a few bands ---- Grandaddy at Brixton Academy (when I first saw them about five years ago at Dingwalls they were ramshackle and brilliant and now they're slick and brilliant) and Johnny Dowd at the 12-Bar (he's a gentleman, generously name-checking us from the stage. His new album sounds great and is due out soon). And I've seen a few films; the ones I enjoyed most were "Lost In Translation" and "The 25th Hour".

The Brancusi exhibition at the Tate Modern's really something (as is Olafur Eliasson's gigantic artificial sun pulsing over the Turbine Hall), not as magical as viewing the atelier at the Centre Pompidou but still pretty special. (Here comes the worm-in-the-apple bit: I was perusing the exhibition catalogue and came across a photograph of Brancusi playing golf. Fucking Brancusi! Golf!!!! Talk about "I, a stranger and afraid/in a world I never made"….).

In July we're playing the Waiting For Waits festival in Spain and each act has to finish their set with a cover of a Tom Waits song, so I'm slowly going back through all those brilliant records to form a shortlist of tunes we can choose from.

Strange new (-ish) development --- I do something and then within just hours it's as if it's someone else who did it and I'm just recollecting something I witnessed, not actually did myself. Weirdest feeling and happens a lot .… ?

Back in Woodfieldside they're driving a new road through a wood that's always been holy to me, fons et origo of all my best times as a kid. Nicky Wire's brother's been pinning poems of protest to condemned trees and there are saboteurs camped in the woods.

That's it for now but let's keep in touch.

 

 

 

Monday 15th March 2004

THE BORDERLINE Ah, it’s so good just to play again! This was a 9-song solo set opening for Buck 65, Karl got up and played harmonica on a couple of songs and Corrinne joined me for the “Fairytale” duet. Played “Childhood Skies” for the first time live. I’d had a cold over the weekend but port and Ibuprofen saw me through and the gig went very, very well, really good audience. Buck 65 is a Canadian rapper – a literate one given to rapping in the stylee of a Woody Guthrie or Anaïs Nin, not that gangsta braggadocio shit. Sounded like a cross between Tom Waits and Jack Nicholson (if such a hybrid were to rap!). I had a really good time tonight (and even managed to find a parking-space in Denmark Street).

Saw “21 Grams” and it’s brilliant. Had high hopes for “The Missing” but only the first hour cut it, after that it turned silly, so “The Searchers” can sleep easy in its bed. Now I’m hoping “Open Range” is a masterpiece . No greater film than a great Western.

Read E. M. Cioran’s “History & Utopia”. (That’s ‘read’ the imperative, not the past participle). “Only a monster can allow himself the luxury of seeing things as they are”. Or “ A great step forward was made the day men understood that, in order to torment one another more effectively, they would have to gather together, to organize themselves into a society”. Ten cheers for this Celine of a philosopher.

I saw John Gray (author of “Straw Dogs” and “Al Qaeda And What It Means To Be Modern”) lecture last week. Some luvvy in the audience ‘accused’ him of misanthropy (the little twerp certainly meant it as an accusation), but it’s a bit like being charged with being a world-class poet or having a big dick.

 

Mid-April 2004

We’re very sorry for the cancellation of the gig at the Garage on April 16th but it was beyond our control with Gods and Monsters pulling out at the last minute. (The monsters must’ve prevailed over the gods). So on that Friday evening I stayed home instead and finished Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness At Noon”. Littlewood’s law (named after a Cambridge mathematician) states that on average everyone can expect a wonder a month and ours for April was definitely Jonathan Ross playing our take on “Janie Jones” on his Radio 2 show the morning after the cancelled gig. I’d say it more than made up for what had been a real mindfuck of a week.

We’re over halfway through enough new material for a fourth album and still don’t have a final release-date for the third one yet! It is coming, I promise.

Nick Cave was rehearsing in the studio next door to us a few weeks back. Sounded impressive. I’ve always had a soft spot for Steve Harley, I think he’s underrated and deserves the same kind of respect Sparks rightfully receive. A friend of ours mixed Harley’s sound at a gig last week and said he’s a born-again Christian now. I was somehow a bit disappointed to hear it …..

I’ve got the Brel box-set of DVDs “Comme Quand On Était Beau”. That’s 7 hours of Brel footage to look forward to.

“Kill Bill Part 2” out next week.

 

Early June 2004

We're playing Camden's Jazz Café on June 16th, opening for Rachel Goswell, and then off to Sweden and Spain next month.

Saw Robert Wilson's brilliant "The Black Rider" at the Barbican recently. And there in the pit on double-bass was Rory, who, once upon a time, played in an old band of mine (he's just done a record with Lemon Jelly). When the production goes to America they hope Tom Waits will get to see it: in the meantime the Great Man's heard a CD of the current band's interpretation of the soundtrack and given it the thumbs-up (the musical director and orchestra leader is Bent Clausen, who played on Waits's "Alice" and "Blood Money" albums). Rory said he'd never seen as much concentration and attention-to-detail as Robert Wilson had applied to this production. It's an amazing show and should be seen by everyone, even anhedoniacs.

Went to Peter Straker's evening of Jacques Brel music at the King's Head in Islington - a hot little band at the back with Straker 'being' Jacky out front. Had to do a bit of swift cultural readjustment in the face of some of the cheesier old-style showbiz stuff (feather boas, confetti, funny hats, Frankie Vaughan-style dance-steps, etc.) but musically it was all very fine.

As were the Cowboy Junkies at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Classy stuff -- exquisite, sometimes. But the cover versions they did (stuff from Robert Johnson, Townes Van Zandt, The Grateful Dead, Neil Young's "Helpless", George Harrison's "Isn't It A Pity") outshone any of their own material. (And it was their version of "Sweet Jane" that originally caught my ear many moons ago). But that's not something you'd want to say to the band or any of their 'people' so we skipped the aftershow!

I think I'll go see Patti Smith/Television at the Academy next month. (Expect soaring flights of furor poeticus). The last time I was at the Academy was for Damien Rice in February, which I forgot to mention at the time was a good show. (Plus extra points for having everyone on the guest-list stump up a contribution to a donkey sanctuary. Cool move).

Looked in on the Hay Literary Festival (I love Hay, with or without the festival). The dog that hangs out at the town's only CD store is usually pretty sniffy with me, but this time we bonded just as long as it took for me to feed him about 20 strawberries. (Then he turned sniffy again). There was a huge crowd in the Channel 4 tent come to see some nescient cunt of a TV chef apparently renowned for his way with meat ……. (It just struck me how far downmarket we've wandered from the likes of Robert Wilson! This diary is dumbing down!!!) But the beautiful drive back via Capel-y-Ffin soothed my spirit and by the time we reached Govilon I was a child again. (Which is a good thing, I think, for "An artist must mature, but only into childhood" ---Bruno Schulz).

One Saturday afternoon in late April I burst into tears. Near Waterloo Bridge. For no reason whatsoever (and certainly not for joy). Felt such a pillock, people looking and all…..

By ordering the books from America I've managed to get hold of almost everything E.M. Cioran published, with only "A Short History of Decay" and the "Notebooks" to go. Read him or be square. He'll be just the thing to while away those long hot (endless) (and desperate) summer nights.

The next record. What can I say but 'Coming soon'? The band now has a lawyer! A rock n' roll one. (He has a barrister's wig and a gown with the Anarchy symbol on it and when he beats his gavel for silence in court it always turns into the intro to "Honky Tonk Women"). And he's on the case …..

Ciao.

 

Monday 21st June 2004

THE JAZZ CAFE, WEDNESDAY JUNE 16TH.........Brilliant gig, we all felt high after this one. (Pod and Dave insist I send a merci mille fois to Cho for his sterling work as Stage Manager: "Careful with the praise," I said, "or he'll want paying".) I started to feel at home during the third song and then it all went like a dream from then on. (Heavy downloading of MP3s from the website the morning after.) At the soundcheck (fraught, as ever) there was some electrical buzz we couldn't get rid of and my guitar was pinpointed as the culprit, so I've sent it off to guitar hospital for a bit of exploratory surgery (I'll be holding a lonely midnight vigil outside Andy's Guitar Workshop in Denmark Street tonight). Up in her dressing-room headliner Rachel Goswell was apprehensive, a bit nervous about her first solo show (her other band's Mojave 3) but it all turned out well for her and the crowd loved her.

JANE BIRKIN AT MELTDOWN .............On Saturday we went to see Jane Birkin at the Royal Festival Hall --- part of Morrissey's Meltdown Festival. She was stupendous. (I think Pod's more than a little in love with her). She introduced her band by likening each of them to a precious stone --- "Azziz, you must be a ruby. And you Amel, you are an emerald ….." (which is a bit like how I talk to Pod and Dave). She said everything Serge ever said had to be true, " for he was a poet". Now this is my kinda gal! Gallic, 'pretentious', magnificent! It was like a long cleansing soak in the waters of sheer class, to wash away the stale cum, cock-cheese and other stale and stinking body-fluids of the rock n'roll orgy. I'll be suggesting to her management that Jane and I do a re-make of "Je t'aime …. Moi non plus" and if she's not up for it I'll sulk like a motherfucker (because I'm immature. But honestly, Jane, my immaturity is my Badge of Honour, my Saving Grace! It's what enables me to create! Even better, it's what gets right up my enemies' noses!). I think that in time Jane may grow to love me, and if Pod can't handle that we'll just have to break up the band……. …..

DYLAN AT THE FLEADH........But I was soon back rolling about in them body-fluids, for the next day (after a Songdog rehearsal where we worked up a cover of Tom Waits's "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" for our Spanish trip next month, a song I chose because the lyric is so me. I endorse every syllable, readers! In fact, Tom and Kathleen must've shanghaied me, popped me some truth-serum and just copied down what I blabbered…) found us at the Fleadh in Finsbury Park, sheltering from the rain in a tent with, somewhere in the dim interior, John Prine rolling out a tune like a cowboy spreads his bedroll under the prairie stars. But I only came for Dylan, and mighty He was. Mighty, and perched incongruously at a keyboard through the set. Ronnie Wood was up there too and amid all the best-bar-room-band-in-the-world stuff, the Lynyrd Skynyrd-with-charisma thing, there were moments of great, great beauty, particularly "Positively 4th Street", but most especially "Not Dark Yet" --- the feeling in the crowd at that moment was indescribable. Bumped into Allan Jones (Uncut's editor) backstage and he was in an advanced state of Zim-rapture. Bob Dylan truly is a godlike genius, we agreed. (Maybe I can rope Bob into a threesome with me and Jane - "Je t'aime…. Moi non plus…. Mais si tu dois partir"….?). We saw Shane McGowan stumbling away into the night, but this time he was as likely to have been pissed on that version of "Not Dark Yet" as anything from a bottle.

Tomorrow night Jim White. All three of his albums have been brilliant, so I have high expectations.

I attended three of a series of THES-sponsored debates at the National Gallery over recent months --- one on animal rights, one on George W. Bush and the last one -- the night after our Jazz Café gig -- on the pros-and-cons of Saatchi-endorsed art. All of the debates have been gripping stuff --- with the likes of Peter Singer and John Gray involved --- but the final one was pretty poorly attended due to a --- gulp! --- a fucking football match! Which just goes to show that the cretinization of our society is ten times as bad as I said it was the last time I said it was …….

Came across this in a book and it keeps haunting me (as it did the author): "In the slaughterhouse that morning I watched the cattle being led to their death. Almost every animal, at the last moment, refused to move forward. To make them do so, a man hit them on the hind legs ….".

Happy cheeseburgers, huh? .

 

Friday 9th July - Sunday 12th July 2004

PEACE AND LOVE FESTIVAL 2004, BORLÄNGE, SWEDEN

A brilliant, hectic and intense couple of days. The festival takes over the town from 7pm-2am for three nights (and in the VIP area there'd be a party running every night from 2am till about 9am). The amount of organization it all took must've been awesome but we were incredibly well looked after in every respect, so big thank-yous to Peter (who invited us), Pelle (our driver), Sara (the lady assigned to look after us), Lukas and Hanna (for the omelettes and cider) and Ingemar (for first discovering "Haiku" and raving about it and recommending us to Peter). We did a 45-minute set at 10:15pm on the Friday night and it was fantastic, I remember singing "The Republic of Howlin' Wolf" with a cool breeze blowing over us and looking out over the lights of the town and at a big neon sign I couldn't translate and just feeling so high … (We'd prepared for the gig in a big tent immediately behind the stage. The death-metal band onstage --- signed to Columbia, so with a small Himalaya of hardware at their disposal --- were using a smoke-machine and the stuff was blowing back into the tent till it was so foggy in there Jack the Ripper could've slipped in, done his thing and no-one would've noticed). An hour or so after the show I remember walking towards the party area and hearing Lemmy bellow "Good evening!" from the stage in the distance as Motörhead kicked off (it was either that or World War III starting) and I thought to myself how well the old reprobate had put it, for a good evening is exactly what it was ….

Midnight ushered in Dave's birthday. The following evening I did a short set at the Restaurang Saga and scribbled an eulogy to their omelettes on the kitchen-door. When I left the end-of-festival knees-up at 5am (the sun was up by 2am and walking back to the hotel the park I cut through was bathed in silence and a beautiful unearthly glow) Lenny was still hopping to "My Boy Lollipop" in his new hat and Dave and Jon got back gone 8am with eyes like big shimmering desert suns. (I'm writing this on Monday evening and I'll bet they're still in comas. Maybe dreaming of those near-naked girls we saw on the Dance Stage). N. called it 'The Tantrums and Tiaras Tour' --- don't ask --- and Pod kept a cartoon diary of it all and got into a conversation about Schopenhauer, which chuffed him no end. (NB: We're a bit concerned about Corrinne's health because she barely ate during our stay!).

Sweden's a beautiful place. And it rocks.

Links to pictures on the Peace and Love website: Lyndon Pod Dave 

 

 

Monday 19th July - Wednesday 21st July 2004

WAITING FOR WAITS FESTIVAL 2004, PALMA, MALLORCA

The band’s second visit to Palma, this time as one of the five acts playing Tomeu Gomila’s “Waiting For Waits” festival…..

OK, so what’s the Spanish for ‘We had us a real fantastic time’?

Tuesday 20th July, C.C. “Sa Nostra”(C. Concepció): Our gig took place in a seated venue in an arts complex in the old part of the city. The place was packed and we were just amazed at the warmth of the welcome the audience gave us. We did “Gallows And A Hanging Man” and “The Waitress From Yorkville, Toronto” live for the first time. The Tom Waits tune we covered, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” (it’s a standing rule that every act has to end their set with a Waits song) worked out so well we’ll be adding it to the repertoire and recording it next time we’re in a studio. Carter Wood opened the show with a powerful set of beautiful songs (and she did a lovely version of Waits’s “Hold On” off “Mule Variations”). Carter’s from Louisville, Kentucky (www.carterwood.com) and should have a record available in Britain soon (but eat your heart out ‘cos I already have a copy). We did a radio interview together the night before the show. Our show was the opening night of the festival. The acts still to appear are Danya Kurtz, Kelly Joe Phelps and Josh Rouse.

Tomeu pointed us to a little bar near the villa where we all stayed in the countryside outside Palma; he said it was Howie Gelb’s favourite bar in all the world and I’m inclined to agree. The waitress looked like Carmen. The Wild Bunch might’ve sunk a last tequila here before stepping outside to their glorious doom.

Lenny hired a car to get in and out of the city or to and from the sea. I’d wake up in the mornings to the sound of a bell tinkling round a goat’s neck, then go rummage for food for the pigs we discovered on some wasteland behind one of the outbuildings. (I’m going to write a song from the pigs’ point of view).

So muchas gracias Tomeu (and Maria). And here’s to many more years of “Waiting For Waits”.

There was no way any of us wanted to come back but at least when we did it was to the consolation of a BBC website where Colin Larkin, the Virgin Rock Encyclopedia's numero uno, had written a piece where he described us as “one of the most original talents to emerge on the UK music scene in the new millennium”. Aww shucks, Colin, I’m blushing!

 

Late September - Early October 2004

I’ve been writing songs for the album-after-next, about 14 of them, and the band’s already au fait with the majority. In a couple of weeks we’ll get Corrinne and Lenny to Terminal to hear the new stuff and then we’ll demo it before Christmas. As for “The Time Of Summer Lightning”, it’s coming out in -------------- on --------------- (if there’s a gap before these brackets it means I’ve been brutally edited by the Gatekeeper of the Site). Anyway, take it from me, it’s a sexy label. A few months back, Sony asked us in. And what a fucking joke that was!

I’ve been back to Wales a few times. At a funeral there I met a friend I hadn’t seen in decades. And on separate occasions I came across two other friends I hadn’t seen for almost as long, both encountered pushing trolleys at the local Asda Superstore (public toilets, supermarkets and funerals are places everyone has to show up at sooner or later, so I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising you bump into old acquaintances there). Some people I really liked and shared adventures with turned out to have since died. And it was just as spooky to hear of the current whereabouts of someone who broke my fucking heart all those years ago …. I heard all this stuff and crossed myself, us Welsh being ‘not inferior in superstition to the Laplanders’. Time’s a twisty chiseller, eh?

I just finished reading the first volume of Andrew Loog Oldham’s biography and I really enjoyed it. Someone says there that without Oldham the Stones would’ve been just another really good blues band like, say, the Yardbirds. And that the Beatles were yobs made palatable to the masses by their manager whereas the Stones were nice middle-class boys made to act the rebels by theirs. And that ‘Merseybeat’ would’ve been more aptly named ‘the Hamburg Beat’. I look forward to the second volume. In the meantime I’m reading the collected poems of Weldon Kees, an American poet thatthrew himself off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955 (so I trust him). He doesn’t seem to be in print in this country and I had to order the book from the States. It’s from Kees, it appears, that Dylan lifted the phrase ‘idiot wind’. And, to Dylan’s credit, Kees is exactly the type of poet a really discerning poet would nick from.

New records coming up from Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits! A truly enlightened government would make both release dates public holidays. And then we have Tom live at the Apollo! (Have I already said I once saw him in Camden Market, carrying a child on his shoulders, when he was over here for his shows at the Dominion)? If only Joni Mitchell would suddenly now announce a London show before Xmas I’d believe that God is even if He actually isn’t ….

I read somewhere last week that it takes the average human male 4 minutes to ejaculate. There’s grain of abjection in that somewhere and so I’ve resolved to work it into a song lyric sooner or later ….

Isn’t “Deadwood” really cool?

 

Mid-October 2004

A period of existential indeterminacy, undoubtedly, yet you should see the gee-whiz new black winklepickers I picked up
cheap in Neal Street a few weeks back. (I felt great for over twenty minutes afterwards!). A culture is really no better than its boots.

Caught “Dead Man’s Shoes” last weekend. I went alone but when the film was over a gang of us gathered round the urinals like a herd of wildebeest at the Limpopo to say how fucking great it had been.

I saw The Magnetic Fields at the Royal Festival Hall. Stephin Merritt strummed a ukelele throughout, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, pianist and cellist, and it was just beautiful. (On record the arrangements can sometimes get in the way of the songs, but stripped down like this every single number was wonderful). Pod and I were struck by how much Merritt resembled Gerry O’Connell, someone we used to know. After a while it actually became Gerry up there singing all these superb songs, even though we both knew Gerry couldn’t sing at all and anyway wouldn’t be seen dead at the Royal Festival Hall… The Real Tuesday Weld were on first and they were pretty dazzling too. (Their name alone would have predisposed me to like them but I didn’t find out who they were until after they’d left the stage). Maybe you’d care to investigate their new LP (“I, Lucifer”) while you’re waiting for ours?

Devendra Banhart played Shepherd’s Bush Empire only last night. I like his records, I loved his solo opening number about talking to the animals, delivered in his best Marc Bolan vibratro, I admired his kaftan and envied the way he looks like Cat Stevens, but he spoiled it completely when he brought out his band --- the Queens of Sheba --- and they started --- well, fucking about --- there’s no other way to put it. I thought he’d be otherworldly, sit there cross-legged like Donovan and bleat, but he came over as just a handsome young American man goofing about with his friends (they even did one of the bass-player’s songs! The bass-player!!!). I’d have demanded my money back except that a) we hadn’t paid to get in (and in all fairness I have to report that everyone else loved it, we were the only two to jump ship) and b) the exquisite Cocorosie would have been worth the ticket price anyway. For Cocorosie imagine a cross between the granddaughters of Melanie Safka (and I mean that as a compliment) and Macbeth’s witches huddled over folktronica paraphernalia instead of cauldrons, a hybrid of Paula Rego’s menacing little girls and Brecht’s Mother Courage. Spellbinding stuff (though just as the Queens of Sheba whittled down Devendra from shaman into goofball, when the ladies from Cocorosie joined them onstage to sing back-up on a few songs they were transformed from unheimlich harpies into gurning girlies). Cocorosie’s record’s called “La Maison de Mon Rêve”, so that’s two new CDs you might want to check out, both highly recommended.

A friend records “Deadwood” for us every week. I love it.

 

 

November 2004

“How the fuck does anyone get to be that good?” Pod asked as we filed out of the Tom Waits show in Hammersmith. I’d say it’s the best gig I ever saw, more thrilling even than the Who when I saw them for the first time as a kid. The band was amazing, all the material world-class, Tom the coolest guy on the planet and me only ten feet away from him. (Radiohead were three rows behind us -- the only boy band I have any time for -- for a close-up look at a The Real Thing, an honest-to-God True Master. It could only have been humbling even for them). Before the show we bumped into Tomeu, the promoter of the Waiting For Waits festival in Majorca that we played in July: he’d had to grab a ticket from a friend at Mojo at the eleventh hour. I’d say it was very much an industry crowd, but it didn’t feel like one, everyone was as chuffed and excited as Middle England trooping out for Robbie. (There was a rumour doing the rounds that Waits will play a 2-week residency in London next summer, but maybe it was just the excitement talking, the atmosphere …. ). Tom did a lot of stuff from the new record and it sounded even better in the stripped-down stage format than it does on the album. For the encores they rolled on a piano and he did a lot of the ancient stuff --- ‘Invitation To The Blues’! (But nothing from ‘Foreign Affairs’, one of the true ‘best albums of ’77’. England didn’t notice, it was dreaming, remember?). Marc Ribot was magnificent; the rest of us should just leave guitars alone for a while out of sheer respect. N. was greatly pissed off at not having gone when we told her Johnny Depp was there too … So Gig of the Year without question, but if it hadn’t happened I’d have plumped for Nick Cave in Brixton a couple of weeks earlier. I’d expected him to hunch over a piano and do his brilliant thing, I didn’t realise he’d be such a showman. Like Waits, he concentrated on the new album for the first half and then came back and did the hits. Mercury Rev were pretty cool too and I would’ve liked to ask Jonathan Donahue about the effect he was using on his voice that made it sound like he was singing harmony with himself but at the aftershow he was surrounded by a circle of admirers (one of whom happened to be the little guy that played the android in the first ‘Alien’ picture) and no way would I fucking queue ….. (I queued up once to be introduced to Queen Ida backstage at Dingwalls. When my turn came I was introduced to her as being from the NME --- I was just a stringer, so I had often had to review the crap no-one else wanted to, like the Chords! --- and she gave me a look like I was shit and declined to shake my hand). I went to see CocoRosie again just to check they were as good as I’d thought when I caught them supporting Devendra Banhart, and they were. A guy called Anthony opened for them and I should’ve bought his record at the time and didn’t. The night after the Tom Waits show I was supposed to see Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide in a solo show at Water Rats, but he pulled out and I’m glad, almost nothing would’ve seemed good enough so soon after Waits.

So, our new LP. The delayed appearance of. I know it’s getting ridiculous (we finished it a year ago!) but here’s the position: The label that wants the record (and the label we’d love to go with too) hasn’t committed to a firm release date yet and it’s getting as frustrating as hell. In the meantime we’ve been offered a P & D deal elsewhere if we choose, with a very good press agent tied in. So what to do? Swings and roundabouts, etc.

For a variety of reasons I’ve found 2004 a right bummer of a year (just one of those reasons being the band’s inactivity on the public front). I love the stuff we’ve got for an eventual fourth album, I loved Spain and Sweden and The Jazz Café and the Patti Smith, Nick Cave and Tom Waits gigs and The Black Rider and Deadwood and the afternoon we spent with the owls recently and this beautiful autumn we’re having, but as for the rest Old Father Time can go stick this particular year of our Lord right up his hairy fucking arse and maybe for the first time in my life I’ll cheer in the New Year this time around. (Even my ongoing search for my ‘birth mother’ ran aground this year). Thank the Lord for books, records and True Art (i.e. that which breathes the inescapable sorrows of the human race) in all its forms.

I just remembered there’s still Xmas to suffer yet.

So what’s album of the year then? … It’s probably “Real Gone” for me. The reviews were mixed by Tom’s standards but the true story’s in the grooves, as ever.


 


 
 
 

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