2 years ago
Since coming off tour in December last year I have had trouble standing up and walking in a straight line. Since being at home and waddeling through the Christmas and New Year life seems disjointed and far from balanced. I have to rest they say, but resting is not a good thing for me my mind likes to be active and seeking inspiration at all times, so from a comfy chair I reach out to find the words and the wisdom. I have a constant feeling of not being able to balance, vertigo and gravity swing me around from side to side. It was interesting at first now its annoying, I can’t drive or be driven, the world seems out of reach as it flits in and out of focus, stabilising the mind I close my eyes. At night I stagger to the bathroom almost falling, it’s a curve it’s a Bambi moment on dark think ice. I will repair for sure it will take time so I will sit at my desk and pray for words and comfort in the gift of each new day.
22 is a carpet yet to be rolled open for me to walk on, it seems like a massive moment to look back 50 years to the time before all of this become me. 1972 and a young man plays with a dusty guitar, on my single bed I strum a few hard to find shapes on the fretboard, all the time playing records and loving everything. My Bush record player humming with joy night and day. I was writing songs and some of them sounded ok, I was on a roll, not sure what the roll was but it felt like home and the vision was strong, I wanted to be in a band or at the very least be David Bowie.
A friend of mine in the pub was forming a band and asked if I knew of a piano player, I had a piano in my bedroom but was more of a Plonker than a player. I got the gig, mainly because I could deal speed, which everyone seemed to like in those days, I was no Richard Cladleman but nobody seemed to mind. We played mostly folk songs and songs that the band had written which were ok, long but ok. My first ever gig was in May 1972. None of my songs got on the set list. I left the band after a bad Acid trip, I had this constant feeling of not being able to balance, vertigo and gravity swinging me around from side to side. I went on to form a band called The Falling Spikes, we played a few shows and my songs were in the set this time. I enjoyed the bands camaraderie and the drinks in the pub, the fags and humping gear around. There was something missing though, I played bass this time and the guitarist was controlling and not very nice, a bully in many ways, but we all fell in behind and had mostly had a good time of it. It was all there was.
I then I sat still in my bedroom again and listened to more records and dreamt of big cars. Back in 1972 it was all a dream one that seemed only a few sleeps away if I focused hard on being a songwriter and let myself get things wrong, which I have been doing all of my life. Perfection is not advisable for an addict like me. As the year slipped away I looked out the window more and more hoping the future would come and lift me from my single bed and plonk me in some nice hotel on a tour of majestic stages. I was young and into all sorts of things, music was everywhere in my head, all over the place messy like a teenagers head, but in that was the calm of confidence that something would happen, and it always has done. I thought about finding someone to work with, someone who liked my songs and helped me build a band. A shared experience filled with adventure and reward. How could that be? Where would I find such a toad, in the back of the Melody Maker? I skimmed the adds, everyone seemed caged and older than me and possibly living in North London, too far. Falling Spikes was over it was a mess, we blew too many valves and I huffed too much about my songs, we were loud, it was a crusty old sound, some might say a racket. Nigel the guitarist went to live in North London where he thought the music scene was more up his street, I never heard from him again. I sat in my bedroom and waited for the penny to drop.
In my office today I can see piles of notepads from the early years, the smell of them is sacred and warm, inside the words of a growing child who’s dreams on paper were fanciful and distant. I used to write much more in those days, there was nothing better to do. 1973 was on the horizon and I knew something had to change but I was unsure what that might be, and then it happened. Dizzy walking up the garden path to my office after all these years, grateful after all these years. Nothing can change the past, it’s been a rainbow to a pot of gold, a small pot, and sitting by the pot of gold is a massive spider. A web of all weave. For years I slowly suffocated in its joy, but those days are parked up now in a corner of the field where rust pulls a pretty face. It’s not called the music business for nothing, it is business, it’s not the music friendship, although when you are young thats what you think it is. It changes over time and nothing maters more than the mouse and the cheese, but then who keeps moving the cheese.
I feel like its 1972 all over again and I have all that energy a young man has but I’m 67 year old and in need of a slow down, this I find frustrating as its taken me 15 years to get up a head of steam, the solo shows, the driving everywhere the long nights with little sleep on tour buses, the emotional wreckage of our daily bread. I won’t be breaking anytime soon but I will be coasting closely to the speed limit a little more. I did try a drive the other day but everything seemed too fast. Everything seems true enough in life, you duck and dive and then one day it’s 2022 50 years since I sat on the single bed and wrote a song. Under the bed my train set and some magazines, on the record player The Who Live at Leeds and David Bowie. On my notepad words of hope and fantasy, a dream in waiting like a slice of toast in the grill slowly going brown. I was looking forward to all of this and here it is, here we are. 50 years goes so quickly on the back of a well saddled horse, galloping over the hurdles into the final third. The green of the field blurred by the vertigo the hedges of swollen fruits cascading into bubbles of colour converted by the shudder of each distant arrival. God knows I’m good, God will look the other way today.
50 years ago I was about to turn the page and meet the future, it has been a gift but not one that easy to except. Tied in ribbons of misunderstand and covered in the scent of speak when spoken to aftershave I feel the bristles of a log chin worth scratching. As I sit here still without movement trying to balance I know that 1972 was really all about letting in the light and finding true balance. My songs were maybe young and fanciful but I had a voice, and I sung more than I ever have since, the joy of singing and having your own voice is like hearing the sound of a perfectly tuned Jaguar MK2. I had one once, it sounded like heaven. I can feel the wings of reflection guiding me to the next place, the place we all love to be, the next place in the adventure where you think all of your dreams are fulfilled. I have no desire to watch the sun set on another day without praying that tomorrow will be all that it should be, full of hope sobriety sernity and change. I have no dreams only gratitude for the ones I might have had on this long journey from home.
Since coming off tour I have had trouble standing up and walking in a straight line, I wobble when I walk and in the dark its like I have no idea if I will fall or not. I have never been a ballerina but my footing has always been pretty good, I wish I could explain how it feels but I can’t it’s unique in every way. Each day it gets slightly better and when the sun shines I feel gifted and ready to walk, my shudder has been swollen by the curios feeling of still. My cough which I have had since early December keeps coming back to my chest, but it too is getting better with each day. It’s warm outside, it’s another planet, things look different but the same, away in the corner of my week the band, the horizon that I reach for everyday is golden brown by day and lit by an ice cold Moon by night. Mud is everywhere in my house, nature is in hibernation as it seems I might be too, I know I have nothing to complain about and I know something will always happen, just like it did in 1972, so there is no point sitting worrying about anything that hasn’t happened yet, but its all part of the play. Page turn act one.
The mornings are crisp, the sky eager to please golden like a cape defending the heavens. The trees are naked, birds with voices choir on branches above. In the wood a lone Woodpecker drums, I’v heard worse, the sound echos with its curios persistance. Each day seems shorter. At night the wolf Moon cuts a blade through the jigsaw patterns of the trees, as if murder is about to be commited. A faint dogs bark, the stillness of a cold night wraps around the walls of my house, within the tick tock of an over thinker. A radio waffles in the other room, a high pitch rivets my eardrums with tinnitus, I pick each note with a pin and it subsides then returns like the Woodpecker. 50 years ago I could hear the TV downstairs, Val on his rocking chair, I cold hear my Mother asking Sid to get her another drink, I could hear a ball being kicked against a wall and I could hear the feint sound of a strum on a guitar, a slight strum, the sound of a shy frightened teenager.
And then its February 2022 and I find myself driving the car for the first time in a few months, here I am down in Somerset home of the Difford’s. We go back on the family tree to beyond the 17 hundreds. My songwriters retreat is in its first few days, lots of lovely people all eager to write the next song. In the air a cold tipping of the nose, the house is chilly not as warm as when its June, Moon Spoon. In the World things are looking scary but here in the reality of Pennard House all is still and chatty. I have the odd stumble but I made the drive, in three hours, and I seem to be back, almost, on the walk. 22 rolls out ahead, I think I’m trying to do too much again but I have to make sense of the purse, I have dogs to feed and places to go. Sitting still is not an option, but it will be one day, one day when the grass grows over my feet. Many solo shows, workshops and nights out with the grown ups. I hope you can come to the shows and if you need anything its all on the website here for you to wobble through. Thank you for taking the time to read my first journal of 22, its always a pleasure.