Minneapolis 19th April 2008


“Roads girdle the globe”


As the freeway reaches the Minnesota border, steel plate cloud draws over the lowering sun. Joni Mitchell’s lush re-arrangement of “Refuge of the Roads” stirs around the van. No leaves on the trees here, the big freeze having only recently crept away but it’s balmy tonight and grateful Minnesotans congregate around patio-heaters outside bars and restaurants. Such is the ferocity of their winters, every building has multiple sequences of doors and the small square windows of our hotel are hermetically sealed. We browse a surplus store opposite the gig; a hundred kinds of glove and Navy coats so thick they seem to stand erect unaided. Men are empty overcoats, Groucho said.

I was here, at the Fine Line Music Cafe in 1990 and it retains a sort of quaint 1980s smugness. A venue for the discerning professional. Exposed brick and tables and chairs and an ironic catch-phrase on its literature. Waitresses swerve smoothly around the tables as we perform. A plucky group of women from the end of the bar attempt a little celebratory dancing in front of us towards the end of the show but the music is slow and sour and I feel that I am letting them down. I catch up with old friends in the basement dressing room, polite band grafitti neatly marked on the white space above the picture rail. It is a brief reunion and I’m touched by the gnawing regret of nostalgia.

Back through the the rolling meadows of northern Wisconsin the rain falls into the yellow grass, the smoky clouds dirty and low. Last night my dreams were full of un-nameable feelings, horribly intense and signifying nothing. The mind at work upon its obscure wanders leaving the baffling remnants of its trip in my contorted bedclothes.