It occurs to me that this is the longest time I’ve spent in one place as in woken up in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house, in the same town since sometime in my childhood, and even then there were breaks - nights with grandparents, summer holidays in caravans, even nights sleeping in a tent in the back garden. But since I came back from England at the end of February 2020 the only break in the continuity has been two nights in a hospital in Albany in the wake of my oft touted heart attack.
I don’t mind. At least I don’t think I mind. I’ve always adapted to the circumstances in which I find myself with some kind of vague acceptance of the situation - I’m travelling in a van reclined on a pile of amplifiers and speaker cabinets…I’m fully-clothed and splayed out on a hotel bed that’s little more than springs covered by a poly-cotton sheet, I can’t sleep and I’m hoping the morning comes around pretty soon so I can get up and face a day of weary abstractedness…I came home from a tour in the middle of a night and put my bag down in a doorway and I’ve been stepping over it to get from room to room for three full days and now and I'm quite used…
It's the same with the pandemic - for the most part it feels like a vague inconvenience. I sometimes forget my mask and have to turn around, go home and get it. I have to drink my espresso outside in the bitter cold, I haven’t seen my grandchildren for close on eighteen months and it’s quietly breaking my three-stented heart.
I think I’d like to go on tour - I like driving a fast car fast, being in one place and arriving in another, the tawdry thrill of the soon to be discovered glumness behind the door of a hotel room, the promise of a venue I’ve been told I’m going to love - I arrive to find there’s no stage, the PA is a glorified hi fi and I’m sharing the bill with four bands and a fire eater… I think I miss all this crap but I don’t think about it much.
I’m happy enough staying home, just me and Amy most of the time. She’s upstairs writing a book or putting the finishing touches to another song or a podcast, I’m downstairs cooking up some infernal din with the naysaying detractors whispering in my head: you know, this would go better if you actually had a song…you should really get a bass player and a drummer instead of messing about with that drum machine and playing the bass yourself…
I miss being able to get a drummer in but I suppose all that’s about to change because most of the drummers I know are old age pensioners like myself and we’re all busy getting ourselves vaccinated. And there’s a good laugh for you - the first shot of vaccine made me very ill. I’m quietly dreading the second one and desperately trying to finish up an album’s worth of recordings before I get it in case it kills me. At least there’ll be something release-able. And what with me being dead it might even sell.
I don’t know why I’m driven to make records because none of them sell that much, especially without tour dates and a nightly merch stall where I can guilt trip audience members into walking away with an album or CD which they may or may not listen to and might love, hate or feel completely indifferent to. Somebody posted the cover of my first ever album on Instagram the other day. One of the comments read:
His songs are dumb and I love them.
Of course part of me wanted to berate this person though I also loved their observation. I contained myself with a snappy repost:
They were. I kept going - I wonder if you’d find a place for the stuff I’ve done in the past forty years!
Mr Eric, thanks for responding. I actually saw you live a few years ago so the prognosis is good.
In olden times a person like myself - a slightly famous faded pop singer - might be unlucky enough to overhear someone talking about them, and that might be quite upsetting. Now, if I put my mind to it, I can read what members of the general public think about me all over the internet. A selection from the past year:
I’ve been called a moron by someone who got it into their head that I’d been going out in public in the full knowledge of a positive Covid diagnosis (I certainly wasn’t and I’d dearly love to pin that person to the wall and share with them every tedious moment of two weeks under house arrest), a Facebook exchange concerning me that went something like: He was a one hit wonder wasn’t he? I wonder whatever happened to him… the inevitable: I liked that Gordon is a moron song - that was him wasn’t it? And the absolute worst, a recent exchange that went something like:
• Stiff Records? Yeah, brilliant!
• You should hear his latest stuff - his last three albums are fantastic
• No thanks, I think I’ll stick with my copy of Whole Wide World
One lunchtime in 1980 I was sitting in a pub in Goodge Street, London. The seating was high-backed church pew affairs. Two blokes on the other side of the pew where I was sat were discussing concerts they’d been to - I couldn't see them but I could hear them - and I was vaguely listening in because I didn’t have much choice. They were coming in and out of focus and I heard: …yeah, Squeeze at the Hammersmith Odeon supported by Wreckless Eric - he made them look fucking stupid, they shouldn’t have bothered going on.
So that was good, but another time at a gig in London when Amy and I had just started playing together as Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby I overheard:
I don’t know ‘oo she is - just some bird ee’s seein’
And that wasn’t so good, but afterwards a person who sounded very much like the person who said that said to me:
Fuckin’ ‘ell Eric - where did you find her? She’s really good!
So that turned out alright in the end.
It's Casual Friday over at Bandcamp next week. They don't take any commission for an entire day which means people like me get all the proceeds from the mega-tons of product that are bound to shift on such a day. I'm trying my best here - you can stick with your copy of Whole Wide World or you can augment or enhance your collection and help me make some room in the basement for the next unsung and unsold album, the one I'm working on right now. The postage and packing for everywhere that isn't the United States is obscenely, prohibitively expensive so if you don't live in the USA please accept my apology and ignore this entire paragraph and sales pitch. Unless of course you're made of money, in which case flop out yer wallet. Here's the linkage: https://wrecklesseric.bandcamp.com/merch