I’ve just spent a couple of weeks in England clearing out my mother’s house. A strange part of the process. I don’t want to say the grieving process because that word grieving always sounds to me as though there’s uncontrolled sobbing, and there isn’t, and there hasn’t been. And neither do I like the word loss - I suppose there is a loss - I lost my bus ticket the other day. I lost my mother seven months ago, but lost and mother make me sound like a ten year old in a shopping centre.
I feel like I’m dismantling her life, or more likely that her life was a play, and now it’s finished I’ve been charged with dismantling the scenery and putting away the props.
There’s a framed photo of two men and two women from the nineteen thirties. They’re dressed up for a wedding. Everyone who comes by the house asks if they’re family. They’ve been around in our lives for so long that they almost could be, but I remember the day she found that photo, rummaging around in a junk shop in Peacehaven sometime in the late sixties. She liked the look of the people - she made up stories about them:
‘That was George, an old family friend. He was such a brick when Mabel’s first husband died. People thought they’d marry but they never did...’
I found an unassuming blue photo album in the bottom of a cupboard. It was crammed full of photos going all the way back to the beginning of the last century - dour maiden aunts and rakish young men, one of whom was my dad, looking lean and mean back before the steroids got to him. I’d never seen most of these photos before.
There were photos of my grandparents, and me and my sister standing by a corrugated builder’s shed on a plot of land where they were about to construct the bungalow in Peacehaven where we did most of our growing up and couldn’t wait to leave. We look confused and even slightly worried, standing there hand in hand waiting for the box Brownie shutter to click. It’s as though we knew how our lives were going to go. But maybe that’s conjecture and I’m as bad as my mother with her found family photo.
Five years later there was a garden wall and a wooden gate. I used to swing on that gate in the sunlight, caressed by warm southern breezes, dreaming of being a pop star.
Been there, done that, bucket list etc... It was over in an instant and here I am all these years later, not exactly chasing a faded dream... but if I had a garden gate I’d be swinging on it and wondering how I’ve got away with this for so long.
I’ve got a new album coming out. I recorded it very quickly at the beginning of the year. People are always telling me that I should have a rest, take some time off. I think that’s fine if you have a normal job but I think being an artist is different - you are what you do. The nearest I come to having a rest is having a change - a change being as good as a rest. Creativity is great, it’s good for you.
An hour and a half on stage can be quite wonderful - it’s physically, mentally and emotionally taxing but it usually gives as much as it takes. Most of the work is in physically getting there but even that has its upside - it’s very relaxing to get up in the morning and not have to think out what needs doing. The day is pre-ordained - you just have to drive to wherever you’ve got to go and make sure you get enough to eat and drink on the way so you have a good time and don’t arrive in a bad mood.
It only gets to being a bit of a drag after a few months of constant motion.
For me recording can be the greatest thing in the world. It’s hard work, but if you know how to concentrate, how to let it consume you, it can blot out all the pain and anxiety that the rest of the world brings along with it. It’s better than any narcotic.
It’s the rest of it that’s a drag...
Trying to remember the passwords for Tunecore, Bandcamp, Promo Jukebox, Soundcloud… my Apple ID, and whether I’m checking out as a registered user or just a guest… And my subscription is up, my domain name needs re-registering, and if I pay for two years I can save thirty nine dollars… The car rental process takes three quarters of an hour of going between sites, trying to find my AARP membership number (that’s the American Association Of Retired People - all it takes is a lack of shame and being over fifty five, and the discounts are pretty good), and the agony of finding the cheapest deal and not being sure, and then I commit, type in my credit card details and the site crashes or the bank stops my card due to suspicious activity because even though I tell them in advance that I’m going to a foreign country, when I get there I go and do something weird like try to rent a vehicle so that I can leave the airport. And I really need to buy some guitar strings, and if I change the strings on my acoustic guitar every three nights then how many sets of strings is that? And who does the cheapest deal? And the inconvenience of having to buy individual wound 020 guage strings for my electric guitar because everyone else uses a plain third and I just had to be different - I’ve been using wound third strings for about fifty years now so why hasn’t it been adopted as the industry standard? And Musician’s Friend has an app that doesn’t work very well but they sell individual strings in all your favorite guages in packs of three but the only available guage is 038, and that just doesn’t happen to be my favourite guage, and the women on the phone doesn’t really know what I’m talking about and I can tell it’s nearly time for her lunch break and I don’t want to give her a hard time because this isn’t really her problem, it’s just a job, and she’s probably only making minimum wage…
‘This is Wayne calling from Sweetwater - still making a lil’ music there Eric?’
‘Listen to me Wayne - don’t ever call this number again.’
And guess what? You have a Facebook post that is forming 29% better than your 39 other Facebook posts of 2019 and a payment of $30 will ensure that up to 10,000 people get to see this post:
Hope everything’s going well out there in Columbus Ohio, I have a show in Glasgow, Scotland on May 25th, hope to see you there!!
But still I feel obliged to take action because there’s probably a hectoring email in my inbox right now from a promoter who needs me to update my website, create a Facbook event page, let all my followers know on Social Media - Instagram. Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, Soundcloud, Songkick, Still Gigging… even My Space - Hey! I have a My Space (or a Me Spass as the French use to call it) so don’t forget to check it out!
I can create something, make records, or I can attend to all this rubbish. I’ve chosen to make a new record. It’s called Transience because I know how transitory all this other rubbish really is, and how little it really matters.
I’m on my way back to England again. I have to finish clearing my mother’s house because someone’s buying it. Then I’m going on tour. I’m a lucky man, I get to do what I like doing. If I worked for a living I’d be retiring next month. As it is I’ll be playing on my birthday - May 18th at Patterns in Brighton. I’m going to wear all my campaign medals. I hope they present me with a gold clock. My friend Ian Button is accompanying me on this tour, playing drums, guitar, bass and keyboard noise - very possibly all at once. It’s going to be cosmic and fucked-up. Of course I’m hoping people come to the shows and love it. I expect they will.....won’t they....?
Here are some tour dates: