24 May, 2013
One of those days weeks years...
Was back in London last night for drinks/eats with Dave Everley. A little place he knows. Packed with super heroes. And us. I introduced him to the delights of Chivas Regal, he treated me to blunt honesty and intriguing insight. A combination that worked extremely successfully. So successfully, in fact, I nearly fell asleep on the train home and missed my stop. Which would have been the opposite of good, seeing as wife was waiting to there to drive me home. Not because I couldn't stand. But because I certainly shouldn't have been driving. Clunk click every trip, that's what I say.
Then today sitting here bashing the shite out, as you do, my front right tooth fell out. I was munching a wheat-free choccy cookie when I bit down on something way too hard even for the idealist freaks that make the wheat-free stuff. Out fell a big-ish tooth. Ah, I thought, that loose bastard at the back has come out at last. I felt inside with my fingers to confirm - but it was still there. Fumbled further. Nothing. WTF?
Then my tongue found it - a huge gap where my front right tooth had been 10 seconds and for about 25 years before. No pre-warning. No wobbling or pain or swelling. Fucker just gave up the fight and bailed out on me. Mid-cookie. Mid-bashing-out-the-shite, deadline not just looming but now rapidly shrinking in the rearview mirror. I rang wife, told her to ring the dentist. She did. He'd gone home early for the long weekend. Gave her an appointment for me next Tuesday. So now I look like old man Steptoe, and whistle when I say any 'f' words, which as you may be ware I tend to use rather a lot of. Like these ones...
Fuck sake. Fuck it.
19 May, 2013
I am now 10,000 words into my next book - an amuse-bouche of stories and recollections, mostly true, some 'refined' shall we say, through laziness, artistry and what's the difference anyway-ness, but all assuredly from the pit of this blackened heart. And I am pleased, excited, even quietly thrilled one moment, then somewhat appalled, angst-ridden and worried about it the next. I had promised the kindly publishers something funny. I had promised myself something great. I am writing something... that appears to be its own thing. No idea how funny or great it might be, but it definitely has a life of its own. I will be sending it in for said kindly publishers to have an editorial squint at sometime soon, when there's enough of it to perhaps to throw some weight behind its purpose, whatever ever that turns out finally to be, but until then I have no idea whether I'm wasting my time or not.
A bit like the rest of my life. No idea what's right or wrong most of the time. just hoping for the best. This week that has led me to London, where famous translator Neil Cross and I attended an author's meeting in Covent Garden (nudge, nudge) and ended the night drinking whiskies at a high-end gentlemen's club with two well-connected gentlemen from Hong Kong. At the same time, my wife was down the local hospital with our boy who it seemed had broken his thumb. Thankfully, the X Rays proved otherwise but it seemed unfair that I should be dipping my beak in London while she was chewing her nails in the waiting room of some children's ward in Oxfordshire.
I don't know what else went on this week. Except for speaking on the phone to Steve Hackett on Friday. How times have changed. When I first met Steve, it was back in the early 80s and he was still very much post-Genesis, quiet, almost monosyllabic, not aloof but definitely guarded. These days he's the opposite. Still very self-aware, but much more talkative. We spent 20 minutes chewing the cud before we finally got on to the interview. Then another 20 minutes saying goodbye when it was over. Perhaps it's a product of our combined ages. It's like this with most rock stars I speak to these days. Most anybody, in fact. We're all too old to give much of a monkeys what we say or what anyone else might make of it. We know we're all in the same not so slow boat to China. One foot up our arse, so to speak.
Now today I am back in my office working on said new book, and sweating unduly one moment, shivering cold the next. I blame the meds. Either the ones from now or the ones from way back when. Both. Neither. Some.
11 May, 2013
Spent the day in the office going through book proofs. And trying to catch up on emails and other lost causes. Now it's after eight and wife is on the blower moaning she's hungry. I'm the chef, you see. Ever since wife boiled me an egg on our first morning together as a married couple all those lifetimes ago - and the egg splatted against the walls when I hit it with my spoon. I don't mind. I like cooking. Not that you'd guess it from my cathedral-like physique, of course. Cooking also occasions opportunities for red wine. Or beer. Or apple juice. Whichever I am not strong enough to resist. Sometimes it's just water but hey we all have those sorts of days, right?
Meanwhile, been getting quite a few emails about the future or lack of, of this blog. No one's told me to stick it yet. Quite a few have begged me not to stop. Most have sensibly stuck between the two points of view and said surely it would be easier just to keep going than to get all pouty about it and Officially Stop. Hard to disagree, even when writing one of thsoe hey-ho-I'm-quite-nice-really type posts like this ho-hum load of old wallop.
But wait... a new email just in...
I throughly enjoyed reading your Led Zeppelin book "When Giants Walked the Earth" The title says it all... And they still are GIANTS
I try and read your blog weekly. It's fun, you have a great sense of humor and a quick wit. Please keep it going..
I dragged my girlfriend to see Howlin' Rain 4 times in '12. I'm sorry to say it looks like they've broken up now.. Ethan Miller jams! I hope to see him again... such a player and fun guy to talk too.
Be Cool Mick and if you ever come to San Diego I'd love to show you around.
San Diego? Isn't that where Joe Daly lives too? Maybe we could have a party...
09 May, 2013
Been an interesting last few weeks. Well, interesting for me. Been using the time, post-book, to try and catch up on my so-called real life. The start of it coincided with the kids being off school for Easter, and wife also having time away temporarily from work. We can't afford a holiday so we used the days instead to do stuff like day-trips to London, with the kids a couple of times, and on our own a couple of times. Falling in love with the city of my birth again, I have begun daydreaming of living there again. Not that I can possibly afford it. But as the kids get older, who knows...?
There has also been a lot of gardening. Yes. Gardening. Well, about three days of it. And the clearing out of the garage (half done) and various cupboards. Sounds boring but not as boring, let me tell you, as I have been sitting in my office writing writing writing. Two books written in the past year. Too damn much. Fun to look back on and roll your shoulders too, of course, but dear god, too damn much, that's all. So all this outdoor stuff has been the yang to the writing yin for me. Also been getting back to the gym. Have I lost weight? Oh yeah, baby. I now weigh exactly what i did when I joined the gym six months ago - when I lost half a stone, before putting it back on and more during the last book binge. Circle of strife.
This week has been different again. Like all four seasons in one. Monday I was swimming with wife and kids. Tuesday I was in London having lunch with my soul sister Maureen Rice followed by dinner with my best-bud TV bad boys, Richard and Hamish. Sorry, I mean, meetings, dear boy, doncha know. Then back on Weds in time for lunch with Dee, my long suffering but utterly Christ-like bank manager. Why she puts up with me, how she puts up with me, I dare not ask too often - in case she scares the hell out of me by actually giving me the gory details. But without her, no me, right now, that's for sure.
So that now, today, I am back finally at my desk. Writing. A book. Something funny. Or supposed to be. You know, crazy stories from my misspent youth. Or a close enough facsimile of. (Hopefully.) Like the time I singularly failed to interview Ian Hunter - having gotten drunk in the limo, plied with drinks by the older lady PR (at least 25) who thought it amusing to show this callow 19 year old the old tricks of an even older trade. (hey, 1977, baby, why weren't you there to protect me???)
And stuff like that.
02 May, 2013
We were driving through the hills. It was evening but the sun was still beating down. It felt like summer even though it wasn't. No summers left for us. We were all winter's children now. Older than these hills even.
I glanced across and looked at myself. Like when your phone is down to less than 25% but still seems to be going. Like it won't run out until suddenly it does. Not long now, I thought. Still here we were, driving through these sunlit hills, the tiredness like a coat hanging off the hook in the back, obscuring one corner of the rearview, not that we checked it much. Not on this ride.
I had been intending to write another book. Only this one was going to be quick quick quick. Lock myself away, see if I could do a Kerouac and get the fucker done in under three weeks. Bukowski wrote Post Office in 19 days and nights, didn't he? Something like that.
I just didn't have it in me to start yet though. Not that day. Start too early, just jump in on something like that, you can find yourself drowning in the wrong end of the river. You needed to switch off first, wait for the lights to come back on all by themselves. All the young would-be writers, asking me for advice. I would tell them: stop writing. Give up. Fight the urge until you can't keep it back no more. Then let it come but let it come on its own, nice and easy or hard and fast. Whatevs.
They would look at you. Like you're joshing. Like you just don't care. Making fun. Like you're some kind of cunt, all right for you...
Well, yeah, I suppose so. It's been all right for me for a long time now. I was seven when I first sat down to write a song. I got the first line no problem: Hey baby. Then sat there constipated utterly unable to think of what might come next.
I gave up. Didn't get back to it until I was 14. Only then I had the opposite problem. It all came together but none of it was any good. Not for a long, long, long time. It would get good for five minutes then collapse into hours of shit. Days and nights and years of shit. One afternoon, when I was 24, hanging out in one of the bedrooms in the dreadful shit hole in Acton where we all lived, I nearly burst into tears. I couldn't handle it, the sound of all the others - my friends - having good times in all the other rooms, while I sat there fidgeting like a junkie with withdrawal, trying to write 185 words for a short preview piece in Time Out. Time Out, baby! Big stuff! Big get your shit together don't blow it might be your only chance stuff, boy!
And I hated it. Hated how hard it was. Hated how I was the only one having no fun. But knowing it was the only way.
Then those years when I took my own advice and just gave up. Would get offended if anyone dared to even describe me as any kind of writer. Like I was worth a shit and just laying out, keeping it cool now baby while I planned my next big move. While I was dishwashing, portering, furniture removing or just cheating the dole and stealing. Walking around, 50p in my pocket, looking for a place to just sit, invisible, I hoped, in the corner.
Time messes with you, though. Before you know it, there you are, driving over those hills, the sun, not knowing your name, not caring, just looking at you like the way you look at the fields and cows. Like nothing much of anything, really.
30 April, 2013
Been a while. Kind of missed you. Kind of didn't. Anyway...
Let me tell you where I live now. It hasn't changed much over the years. Just the view from the window. The sights and sounds. Mostly, though, it's stayed the same. I don't know if I was born here, or got brought here as a child, or maybe just woke up here on the floor one morning back in 1976, crashing over at Stuart's or maybe Pete's. We were all friends with Joe, who liked to play us that Neu! album. I used to get itchy about it, cos it was so far out of my reach back then. But the longer I lived here the more I got to like it where now it's the only thing left I can play without hurting myself.
See the moon? The sun? I know, they're yours too. They are not always mine, though. There are still times, even though I'm part of the furniture now, where they can slice me open, leaving my two halves rolling away from each other.
I am of the moon but I prefer the sun. But the sun always leaves eventually. The moon never hides. Not for long. I never get tired of them. Just the windows I have to look at them through. It's funny how, after all this time, it dawns on me that here will always be here, even after I'm gone. Here will always be now, only not for me, who just won't be here.
Wait, see that? Like a streak across the sky? Just a thin one? What does it mean? Wait, there's another. And another. And another.
So I spoke to my bank manager, Dee, and she said I didn't have anything to worry about. Yet!!!! Four exclamation marks. Thank goodness where I live it is always Hallogaloo, which opens the album, and not Negativland, which closes it.
24 April, 2013
Listening to the Genius Of Ray Charles album while getting my accounts together to send on to my accountant Lynnette to sort out my company VAT. Weird, doing that while jiving to Let The Good Times Roll. Still, life's like that.
So is this blog, withering away on the vine, poor old soak. I know, I know, but hey help is on the way. My friend Harry Paterson has put me in the safe hands of his on Adam, who it turns out is a top website builder. Adam has shown he has one chink in his armour though, which is offering to help me sort out the mess this site has become, like an overgrown garden of weeds. A pensioner's idea of what a garden should look like. No wonder I can't bear to spend much time here these days.
Adam will want to know what I want up here as well as the stuff I currently have. Any ideas? What to keep, what to ditch, what to add, all that? Fire them back at me via twitter, FB or here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's assuming anyone bothers checking in anymore. It's been a while...
11 April, 2013
This blog is becoming like a girlfriend you once loved but have lost all heat for. It's a combo platter: I need to refresh the website badly but can't afford to right now. And the rise of FB and twitter have rendered this less important on a daily (hourly) basis than it once was. Also, I got tired of showing everyone the skid marks on my underpants. Too many people I know getting the jump on me - they think - form reading it, instead of actually checking in with me to find out what the real story is. I want to keep a blog going but stretch it out and refocus it a little. You'll see what I mean when I finally get to it.
Meanwhile, you can always find me on Twitter, @WallMick.
25 March, 2013
Virused out. Have been for days. Sick of being sick, as I'm sure you're sick of being forced to respond to as though it's the first time you've heard the phrase. But I am.
18 March, 2013
The whole family, barring me and the boy, are ill. The sick bug. Lots of everyone seem to have it right now. I woke up three this morning certain I was about to puke but somehow kept it back. But wife and daughters not so lucky. It might be only a matter of time before the menfolk go the same way. I sure hope not, got a lot on this week, including two flying trips to London and one to a magic castle.
Meanwhile, sitting here digging that brilliant Howlin' Rain CD The Russian Wilds. All you 'young' bands that keep sending me your shit, check out the Rain, a good long listen to them will tell you all you need to know about what to do next. Like get fucking good. Then you won't need me, like the Rain don't. But I sure need them.
Been working here typing so much recently I've got fast. No, I mean, FAST. I type fast, write fast, then go away and feel split between the certainty that it can't be so good ripping into it like this, and the satisfaction that comes form having ripped the shit into something until it's done and now you can go do something else. Like spending 10 minutes in the cool Deli in Wantage late this afternoon, sampling their new Olive oil-based honey and jam. Dear sweet god but it was better than heaven. Better, I say. Than heaven. If you still know what that is.
Or like driving through the cold-cool winter-spring evening to pick up cold beer then go home and pull the dogs' ears, staring cross-eyed at the walls, as the girls throw up and I get down all over again. Maybe.
14 March, 2013
Here's a glimpse of the future for all you young people out there. There will a come time if you're very, very lucky and live long enough, when drinking a pint and a half of lager followed by a bar of chocolate, on top of an undercooked plate of lamb cutlets will render you fucked. Yes, I know, because at two o'clock this morning I was that ageing soldier boy, squatting on the loo while grasping for something to be sick into. This completed a big night for me which began when I found myself in bed at the astonishingly early time of 8.00pm. Yes, you read right. Well, I was tired, see. Been a late one the night before, working, slaving, giving what I ain't got left to give, and anyway... so... that's me for an early night then. Until my gut awoke me about two - and kept me awake until about five. Which is why today, as I sit here with still trembling hand bashing this out, I am officially, technically and how you say medically, fucked.
Let this be a warning of future shocks in stores for you all...
10 March, 2013
Woke up early this morning stinking form the night before. Sweat, fear, blood dreams and fire nightmares. Some peacefulness in occasional unconsciousness too. Yet it was still early. Bagged me and the old lady some tea and toast and whatnots, stuck some bowls of cereal under the kids noses, peed the dogs and shoved them in wife's car ready for her to walk em, then more tea, sausages, no shower, just a big shit, and jumped into the car and drove like the wind Bullseye to get here. That was 10 hours ago. At some point I fell asleep in the chair. Well, as asleep as you can get in a desk chair, still stinking, which wasn't much. Got woken up by the phone dinging. A text. Another one. Then back to work. 10 hours of it, I'm not saying you should actually enjoy yourself reading it, I certainly haven't, that can wait till tomorrow, Correction Day, but hey guess what I just shot the shit out of the final chapter on the book. Now all I need is somebody to shot the shit outta me. Quick as you can please thanks...
06 March, 2013
I didn't have much but whatever I had I finally lost. Not in one great whoosh! That would have made it somehow not my fault. This was all my doing, mine, mine, mine. Till finally, one day or the other, maybe both, neither, all of it always sometimes, I was out. On my own. For a while I was sleeping on friends' floors and couches. I would just turn up on their doorsteps with my portable typewriter in one hand and a plastic carrier bag full of my crap in the other. Stay as long as I could, then move on when they were sick of me.
One night, it was getting late and this guy I was hoping to see wasn't in. Either that or he'd got wind of my plan and wasn't opening the door. I'd already stayed there a couple of times before and I sensed hostility whenever I spoke to his girlfriend now on the phone. I walked around not knowing what to do. I found myself in the park. It was winter but the gates were still open. It wasn't that cold, the moon was up and though it was dark you could see all around. I appeared to be alone. I found a park bench and sat down. I was tired. I could hardly keep my eyes open. Living on other people's kindness meant living on other people's time. It wore you down. Having to fit in with everyone else. When did anybody ever try to fit in with you? I felt my eyes closi...
Then a bolt went through me and I sat upright suddenly. I caught myself just in time, and I got up off that bench and moved out of that park as quickly as I could. So that was how it happened - you just ran out of places to stay, places where you really wanted to go. And so you ended up living at the bottom of the well...
04 March, 2013
Today was... the day after yesterday, and yesterday was... the day after all those other yesterdays... which makes this... one of them. It was supposed to be special. Granddad was kindly taking the kids to school so I could get to the sainted Vanessa's early. But what with cereal bowls and lost shoes and arguments over which TV shows they would watch and what was fair and not fair... I forgot. Until good old Granddad appeared. That gave me 10 minutes to do what you do when there's no time to shower, splash it, roll it, rub it on and hope for the best, then drive to V's.
Being sainted and possessor of needle and candle magic, I tend to think of Vanessa as somehow like a priest, or therapist, or indeed saint. That is, able to put up with all my shit and still find me the answers I seek while also making me feel better about myself. Frankly, though, I think I got on her nerves today. Ever catch yourself doing that. YOU think you're being fine and reasonable. THEY wish you'd just shut up and get over yourself. Worse still, they are always right.
I left feeling mightier in body and spirit and stupider in mind and so-called brain. And that's kind of how the rest of the day has been. Mucho, mucho, MUCHO writing, which you can never ever complain about, even a drive in the late afternoon sun to the cool butcher's in Wantage to buy some of his rock'n'roll sausages. Plus a cool sarnie from the cool new deli. Still... if I'm honest I feel like shit. I daren't even read what I've written today, lest it confirm the awful truth. It is shit, therefore I am shit therefore we are shit. But mostly me...
03 March, 2013
Years ago, in days of old, when magic filled the air, we would spend our nights walking the streets, heads tilted up towards the stars. Folks thought us crazy, but that was when the summer was hot and unfailing, when you had nothing but felt everything the way only grown-up kids do. Neither of us would sleep. We didn't want to. Night time was the only time to do what we wished to do, communing with the universe we could feel seeping, breathing into and out again of our long to be lost minds. This was before punk pulled us all back down to earth, left to wallow away the years in waste of time pursuits guided by missile-headed politicos and crust-eating bread-bugs. When we were left to find new holes to dig into, undercover of their falsely coloured eyes and big nasty hair. After the music had died and not gone to heaven. After it was too late and now there was too much growing up to do. After all that had come before and all that was yet to be.
02 March, 2013
Hard to keep up a daily blog anymore. It's partly the way tech is going, I use Twitter now and then there are those that prefer to check in with me on FB. I'll be honest, it's also something to do with how many I know who have become readers of the blog, though I dare say many have fallen away now since it became more infrequent. But it does tend to hamper your style knowing practically every important person in your life has a route into the blackest parts of your mind on a regular basis. You should try it. Like one of those dreams where you're walking down the street without any trousers on. On this is real. My wife is sick to the back teeth with how many people we know start talking to her about some aspect of the blog - she has no idea what they're going on about, cos she never reads it. As she says, "I have to live with him!"
More recently, though, it's just lack of time. Take this week. Today is my first so-called day off since last Saturday. Only right now I'm in my office getting ready for a phone interview which should have been last night only the line went down halfway through. As soon as I;m finished though I'm off for a day out with the wife and kids - hitting Primark for some cheap kids' quickies for school and suchlike, and to be honest some items for wife and me too. Hey, did I mention we're broke? Well, not broke-broke. I don't consider us broke-broke while we're both working our assess off so much. But broke in the sense of not having any money but being forced to spend money anyway. Which for me is scarier than being broke-broke. Because it just goes round and round in one big circle.
But that isn't what I meant to talk about. I just wanted to let those that care about the blog that I'm not done yet. But soon, maybe, who knows...?
24 February, 2013
Fluttering snow these past three days where I am, nothing settling though. Just cold, not the clingy kind though, thankfully. Just hard cold. I like it, it definitely wakes up the face when you step outside. Then warms the arse of your soul as you curl into a sofa, shoving off the dogs and kids as you seep into your half-glow.
Been working, of course. Well, not yesterday. Out with wife and kids. A different, more physical kind of work. Especially for wife who has a very bad back. Like someone stuck a blade between her shoulders. (Not me. Not this time.) We did have a nice time at her mum and dad's though. It was Diana's 75th birthday, and therefore a good time for cake and flowers and damn nice cup of tea made for me by Colin. We'd have stayed longer if it wasn't for wife's back. When we got home she passed out on the bed, aided by the painkillers I gave her. One thing we know how to do: kill pain. For a short while anyway.
Today been a long office day, punching it out trying to finish something. Got there in the end, but knowing it will take the eagle eye of my trusty editor to sift the shit from the hits. Thank god for brilliant editors. They make even worn out old war horses like me look like we've still got some blood in our veins.
Making a run for it now though. My baby has something in the oven waiting for me. Something hot and soft amidst the single-file snowflakes and the stone black cold. Way I like it...
20 February, 2013
Certain days you just wake up dead. This was one of them. It took all my strength just to get in the shower. Then brushing the teeth and getting dressed. Futile and empty. Eventually, though, I did the things you have to and made it into the office. Lot of transcribing today, which may have had something to do with it I now realise. It's such a tedious part of the job and yet such an invaluable one. I get told to use a pro transcriber. Yeah, but then I wouldn't get the ums and ahs, the hesitations and obvious lies. The things they go to say then think better of. And I wouldn't be brought back up to speed with what exactly I've got in the saddle bag. I probably do on average three or four interviews a week these days, often more. There is no way I can remember the details of what I'm told and it's the details that turn these things into gold.
So anyway, so far so nothing. But then the emails and Skype messages and phone calls began arriving. Not a huge quantity but one after the other huge in their meaning. Or what I hope to make their meaning. What I take as their meaning. What in fact is their meaning - if I can just keep driving all night my hands wet on the wheel.
And that's when the stomach pain kicked in. A hangover from the hiatus hernia. Drink too much coffee. Fall into too much stress, don't get enough sleep, and the acid just burns up my innards. There is a medicine - it's called Ginger Tea. Not the pussy kind in tea bags, but huge chunks of actual ginger root, chopped up into big chunks and stuffed into a mug with boiling hot water poured over. No it doesn't quite taste like PG but by god it works. The sainted Vanessa taught me that one. Which reminds me, I'm seeing her again tomorrow. And not a moment too soon. I am out. Of gas. Of heat. Of everything.
Till tomorrow at least.
18 February, 2013
After two nights running of absolutely no sleep, arrived at work in a complete daze. Decided there was no point trying to write so set about instead going through the nine - NINE - plastic bags' worth of receipts, correspondence, bills, and go knows what that have piled up around my feet these past couple weeks. Always a journey doing this, so many things seemed urgent on the day they arrived now like old French letters half buried in the sand. Sometimes this is bad... another credit card bill that didn't get paid on time. Sometimes this has benefits, like stumbling across the latest issue of Dave Lewis' excellent Tight But Loose Zeppelin fan mag. Dave never delivers anything less than enthralling in his mags, but this issue - No. 34 - may just be his best. Unbelievably good stuff in there on Pagey, Plant and Jones, from the new DVD to the Obama Kennedy Centre deal. Even interviews with Ross Halfin and Brad Tolinski. PLus loads of other stuff. You know it must be good when you look up and you've been sitting cross-legged on the floor for an hour reading it instead of doing whatever it is you meant to do. Check it out at...
16 February, 2013
And yes, despite the pain, the squirming and the blethering, the gawking and falooking, another chapter bites the dust. Any good, you ask? THAT IS NOT THE RIGHT QUESTION! It is finished. For now. That is the answer, more even than love. To celebrate I am playing the first CSN&Y album, Deja Vu, loudly on Youtube as I type. Sitting here as the night seeps in through the side window, the rest of this tall white building empty except for the vibes setting forth from this small but triumphant eyrie. What's more, I have a plan for the rest of the evening. It is my youngest daughter's 10th birthday and I am going to go home and listen to her telling me all about her presents and what a lovely (please God) day she has had. If I happen to find myself stopping at the supermarket on the way and buying a couple of very, very cold ones, that is all as it should be, I reckon. I wish you the same, or whatever the nearest light-gathering for you is equivalent.
14 February, 2013
Had a crumby couple of days, no energy, no zap, feeling like underground meat. So went to see the Sainted Vanessa early this morning for some powerful needle-magic. Told her I needed a big tiger in my tank to help me meet my deadlines, and boy did she do that. It's only a small room and by the time I left there was so much smoke it was like the place was on fire. As well as the acupuncture needles she gave me some mega-moxo - from what I could tell, in about three different places. When I got home wife told me my head was so red it looked like a light bulb about to pop. The thing about Vanessa's magic is you usually feel the real benefit the day after, so right now I'm anticipating being in my office at the crack of dawn tomorrow and for the words to come pouring out of me like a Vesuvian think tank. Right now though I'm still feeling whacked. I got to about three this afternoon and simply lay down on the floor of my office and conked out. Not completely. In that half-sleep state where you can't move but what's left of your brain is still keeping guard, for what it's worth. I thought I'd never get up again yet when I finally did I felt better. Now, though, I have to eat. Gonna pick up a nice horse from that new place that just opened up the road...
13 February, 2013
Eldest daughter ill with some sort of bug. Don't know if it's the same thing or just my own peculiar form but I felt like the bugs had got me today too. Could not get it together. Feeling sickly, mother, ooh, me head hurts, ooh, me arse... etc. One minute hot, next minute hotter, you know the drill. This, by the way, after an entire night of not being able to sleep, partly because wife was up with poorly daughter, partly because god knows why but I lay this way then that but could not NOT sleep. Not even with a magic pill. Until of course about an hour before the alarm went, then I slipped into blissful foolishness. For an hour. Anyway, because I am so very brave I have sloped into the office this afternoon, and managed to get some stuff done. Now, because I am so, so strong and good and kind, I'm buggering off home again to eat a takeaway and watch the football. Thus the life of the international jet-setting rock and roll writer here in the go-faster 21st century. I thank you...
12 February, 2013
Hard day today. Somehow between Saturday and yesterday I battered out over 9000 words. Don't ask how, I don't know. Sometimes it just rains blood, I suppose. I'm not saying they wont need 'revisiting' at some point, I'm saying 9000 words that I didn't have before suddenly appeared on the computer screen. The result, two good nights sleep in a row.
Today, though... been here for all of it and struggled, slowly, inch by inch to get barely 1000 down. One of those days where most of it is spent reading, looking up, searching, sifting, thinking, wondering, adding up and subtracting, and drinking coffee and eating cookies and just sitting staring saliva drooling form your stupid gob. Or as I tend to think of it as I stagger out the door with my coat hanging forlornly over my shoulder from my thumb, wanking.
Still, tomorrow is another day. And so is the one after that and the one after that, please fucking shoot me now why don't you...
10 February, 2013
Been going through some old Ronnie James Dio interviews for a thing I'm working on. Really brought it back to me what it was liking knowing and working with him. There were times when I wanted to run. There were times when he made you feel like the most important person in the world apart from himself. Best of all, were the times when he simply sang. Then it didn't really matter who he was or wasn't on any given day. He just had that thing they used to have, the old school bunch that old dogs like me went to school with, you dig? Scott Ian once asked Ronnie what he did to prepare before a show. Breathing exercises perhaps? A little meditation? Gym workout? Ronnie answered: 'Drink a beer and smoke a joint.' Different days, my friends...
09 February, 2013
Bed late last night. I was in London in the evening, then came home and couldn't help but have a gander at the documentary on Beeb 4. Same time as tweets and FB comments came rattling in. Lovely, really. I've done heaps of these things but a long time since I was involved in writing and helping make a programme. And such a good one. Huge credit to executive producer Hamish Barbour, who took my original idea and turned it into what we now see, working away at it right up until just a couple of days before transmission. Also Steve O'Hagan, the director/producer, who broke his back rounding around putting it al together - and without whom none of it would have happened, as it was Steve that first talked to me about doing 'something' for the telly. I did what I did, but these boys is the real evil geniuses nehind it and if you liked it then it's to them all thanks must go.
Been mailed and messaged today asking if it will be seen again. Funny you should ask, it's on again tonight, tomorrow night and Monday, but you'll have to check for times. Something like late, later, later still. But that's what Sky Plus is for, right?
Meanwhile, that late night turned into a late start to today and now I am done in, finished. Bogged down in book but determined to come back tomorrow and take a literary machete to the jungle of info quotes and whatnots, and carve me another chapter out fo the pile of rocky rock currently under my writerly feet.
Which is another way and saying can I go now please?
07 February, 2013
Lotta long days lately. And nights, too. Monday night, for example, found me at an official dinner at the Caledonian Club. NO idea why they let people like me in, they must be especially giving. But that's the Celts for you. Warm blooded woolly mammals who hunt in packs. My esteemed agent, Robert Kirby, also came along, as did my equally esteemed old mucker Ian Ross, there to guide us through the proceedings in his usual immaculately black tie manner. There were some wild guys in full Highland Dress and there may even have been some well-dressed women, but I didn't notice. And there was, or so I believe, also the occasional very small Sherry consumed by one or two of those present, though again I can't really remember. Anyway, it was a greta night. One thing up our fellow fmaily members Up The Road, they know how to put on a show.
The rest of the time this week, though, has sadly been heads down too much nonsense, tax paying, VAT arse-kissing, no running away allowed work on the great book. That said, I did have a long and rather lovely natter on the blower with Neil Murray today. Neil, as you know, has played with bass with everyone from Whitesnake to Black Sabbath and all points in between. He is also one of the most gentlemanly guys I've ever met in the music business. And also, now I come to think of it, another Scot. Well, well, AND they won at footie last night. Aye, it'll be tatties and neeps for tea tonight and a nice wee dram to wash it down, please father.
Ian was trying to talk me into getting myself a pair of tartan trews but that's a story I feel not even I am ready to tell just yet.
Meanwhile, I have been listening to and very much digging - indeed, even as I write - the new new CD from Rock Candy Funk Party, you know, the new Joe Bonamassa vehicle. Black Country Communion fans probably need not apply. But me I love it. Funnily enough, it's the kind of deal you could just imagine Glenn Hughes digging in a big way too. This, though, is all instrumental. Not the Joe Satriani kind of hot-guitar instrumental, either, but actual music which may or may not feature Joe's wild and crazy guitar. It is also very addictive. No instant flash, just a lot of tokes before it really hits ya like a big flying hit ya type thing. Like right inside, where you know you like it, ooh yeah...
02 February, 2013
It's emails like this that make it all worthwhile and stop you from actually going mad.
Mickey McDonnell, Irish newspaper journalist, Irish trad musician and (c.1980-1990)) former rock/metal guitarist on the local — and rather limited to say the least — pub/club scene over here.
I'm just about three quarters of the way through yer book on AC/DC (Christmas pressie from younger bro Barney who was home from US for Xmas), and I have to say it's a spellbinding read. You've a great turn of phrase that seems to nail the atmosphere of the various situations spot on..…it's almost like being there for Chrissakes!
As the weeks, days and finally, hours grind on, inexorably, to the sad and ignoble end of Bon are recounted, ya nearly felt like you could jump in there somewhere and save him … then cried again as the tragic tale unfolds — just like me and me fellow would-be 16 y/o rockers did back in Feb of almost 33 years ago (strange to think that's the length of his life over again; the age of Jesus too).
Brian J is a nice guy, and dammit he got a great gig, and has to get the credit for making BIB possible thereby sealing the legend of the band ….. But the sheer bluesy, cheeky evilness of Scott's voice is beyond anything Brian J or anyone could have touched. For me, the title of best hard rock, blues tinged singer of all, so far anyway, boils down to a battle between Bon and Paul Rogers.
I've read a few rock bios over the years, but I have to hand it to you for this one….I'd kinda lost interest over the years but this is mighty stuff!
By the way, I never would have figured a guy I reckoned to be the "quiet rhythm guitarist" turns out to be the sort of tyrannical mini-dictator you so vividly portray!
Well done kiddo!
01 February, 2013
Just spent the last hour and a half talking on the phone with Jimmy Bain. Once famously of Rainbow, then less famously but just as importantly of Wild Horses (first album a classic), then even more famously of Dio, and so on. I was 20 when I met Jimmy, when I was doing PR for Wild Horses. Him and Brian Robertson. Dear god what a trip that was while it lasted. I have met many (many) so-called crazy dudes since then of course but I swear none more fun than Jimmy and Robbo. Mainly Jimmy though, who always had a little more going on. Not just a bassist but a great writer, singer, keyboardist, and guy to hang around and have fun with. Especially if you liked being at the Rainbow in LA in the 80s and let's face it who didn't?
We talked about them all, Ritchie, Ronnie, Robbo, and several others who for now must remain nameless, at least until I stop laughing. He and Viv are back with Vinnie Appice and will be going out on the road this summer with a new singer, their first time touring as the classic Dio lineup since that classic band disintegrated way back when. Now that's one gig I do fancy going to...
31 January, 2013
Was just talking on the blower to Vivian Campbell. What a lovely feller to yack to. You want stories about them there good old bad old days, Viv is your man. Wonderful guitarist too, much underrated, certainly compared to those names that still get talked about all the time. You know the ones, all name and game and flash yellow pants, but no actual old-school guts and fire, no subtle beauty in the playing. But then, hey, Viv's an Irishman, he's got the Gaelic going on, don't mess, mister. It's on days like this that I am so very grateful for the job I do. Talking to guys who have a real story to tell. There have been many times over the years when I searched and searched for a way out of this deep dark hole they call rock journalism, and I don't mean swapping it for another job in the music biz, I've done that and the T-shirt is now too small for me. I mean out OUT completely. Cos I was better than this. Cos I knew more. Cos my talents were wasted on this.
Then one day I grew up, got with the programme and realised what a tart I was, what a fool, and that anyone who even half enjoys what they do for a living is still half better off than most. And that's when the writing finally began to mean a damn. I am so lucky to have found myself working in the rock field, where everybody has been around so long, and in so many places and times, they have the funniest, saddest, weirdest, richest, poorest stories you will ever hear.
Awright, this is getting weird. Feel a wave of nausea coming on. Note to blog writing self: first thought is not always best thought.
30 January, 2013
Little change of scene this morning. Went to London to interview Eddie Kramer, the producer who worked with Hendrix on all his albums and who has overseen the best of his posthumous catalogue, including the forthcoming very far out new People, Hell and Angels collection. Eddie likes to pretend to be a grouch but we've built up a a good rapport these past couple years. We make each other laugh with stories from the good old bad old days. Good to hear him talking about what he did for Kiss, too. (No Eddie, no Kiss, you can praise or bury him for that at your leisure). And of course he was there, too, at Stargroves when Zeppelin were making magic for Physical Graffiti. Imagine that, working with Jimi and Jimmy. Back in the golden day, when dragons stilled breathed fire and mountains hopped misty through your tiny eggshell mind. Well, mine anyway.
Back here in the afternoon though doing what I'm supposed to do best, writing, transcribing, thinking, drinking (coffee) until... now... my eyes are... rebelling and will no longer... stay... open...
27 January, 2013
Chapter done. Head gone. Body already left town long ago. Nothing left to do this what's left of it weekend but offer you this, see if you like, don't care if you don't cos it sure works for me. (Special attention should also be paid here by those people that still insist on sending me their music. Also those like Bowie, Stones, Aerosmith, whoever, who think they still have something worth our attention to say. If it's better than this, I'm all ears and eyes. If not... please, save yourself the trouble, OK?)
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