We load into the van at eleven for the seven hour drive to LA, the mountains of the southern desert brushed with pale green and sitting out at a distance on either side of us the whole way. I nod off and dream of backstage corridors and hotel fire escapes and awake in the snake-pit of LA’s freeway system. The I-10 virtually takes us door to door, from our Phoenix hotel to McCabe’s Guitar Store in Santa Monica. This is a renowned gig for its setting – the acoustic guitar room of a music shop – and its unique and intimate ambience. Lincoln, an urbane and witty man who epitomises So-Cal cool, gives me the run-down on the place’s history which is illustrious and quirky in equal measure. The backstage corridors are covered with photographs from LA music history. I stare into a black…—More Tales
Another morning, another fucking beautiful day, still in Texas. But not for long. The route out of El Paso hugs the border with Mexico for a while before cutting north into New Mexico and turning west for Arizona. Mexico lies just beyond touching distance, only discernible as a different nation by the marginally more ramshackle nature of its housing. An ugly fence, like a stern and humourless drill sergeant, frowns along the frontier for a few miles until succumbing to the heedless power of the landscape. There is no border, just two cultures and economies smashing against each other and melding, melting into one: Amexica. Only the mulish attitude of politicians, harvesting fear votes, prevents this territory from being the same country. The absurdity of the frontier is no less acute than that between North and South Korea. People pour across the official channels – roads, bridges and ports -…—More Tales
Texas is a different world, an unimaginable place in, say, Manhattan. It sits culturally apart from the rest of the States, has its own mindset. We drive south to Austin, stopping at Style Station on the way, a used clothing treasure trove just off the freeway recommended to us by The Mastersons and our buddies, The O’s. Having been forewarned that its proprietor, Art, is big on radical politics and conspiracy we are pleasantly surprised by his hospitality and extraordinary knowledge, from the history of the British monarchy to the convoluted and corrupt machinations of US manufacturers in the Second World War. He’s quite an amazing man and tells me about an electric trolley car system that served the area until it was dismantled by the motor industry in 1948. He has, against state policy, installed his own solar panels and powers most of…—More Tales
In the afternoon of the show I hook up with old friends the Kresses who in a replay of 1986 have come down from Little Rock, Arkansas to see me. We have a lovely lunch in Deep Ellum and swap tales of death, disease and the absurdity of life as their three charming kids suffer us incredibly politely. They are very widely travelled people and their stories are fascinating. This puts me in what I can only describe as a good mood, a state of existence I am barely familiar with. They have brought me gifts, one of which is a mini photo album from ’88 when they were backpacking through Europe where we all look like fucking babies. It’s shocking. I actually don’t recognise myself. Fuck me – what happened to THAT guy?
I find myself actually relaxing by the pool before showtime. I…—More Tales