sitting in a Transit van in Basingstoke, a battered once-blue Transit
van full of drums and amplifiers, in a dirty white concrete car park
under a dirty white sky, and I'm thinking: what am I doing here?
rest of the band have gone for a walk, in search of civilisation, and
I'm keeping an eye on things. Pretty soon I'm dozing, though it's too
cold to sleep. It's the sort of useless grey Saturday when everyone
should just stay in bed with a good book. A blank on the calendar. Christmas
and New Year are gone, and 1975 is having trouble getting started.
having some trouble getting started myself. Last night's gig was a late
one and I have a lingering hangover. Not a pounding-head, churning-guts
kind of hangover, but the kind where you feel sort of OK as long as
you do everything slowly. I'm not sure I feel like doing a gig
tonight. But if we must, I wish we could get on with it. This happens
all the time: we're told to show up for a gig at, say, five'o'clock,
but the place is locked, silent, deserted. Eventually, around six or
seven, a minion will appear, rattling a bunch of keys like some ghoulish
gaoler. He will eye us suspiciously. He'll ask if we're the band, and
one of us will say, No! We're just four long-haired youths who like
to hang around in empty car parks for hours on end in a van full of
drums and amps and guitar cases. Or something to that effect. Grudgingly,
the minion will open up and we'll get to work.
the meantime, I'm dozing and thinking. Of course I can't sleep. I was
blessed and cursed with a hyperactive brain. I ask myself age-old and
portentous questions: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around,
does it make a sound? Or: does music even exist, if no-one's listening?
I reckon it does. We don't have to actually be listening to know that
masterpieces of music are always there. It's like they're just sleeping,
between the pages of a score, or in those black vinyl grooves, Sleeping
Beauties waiting for the kiss of our attention.
admit it: I have a philosophical bent. I wonder not only why I'm doing
this, but why anyone has ever done it, and how. How did Beethoven manage
to write that incredible Violin Concerto? I'm listening to more Bowie
than Beethoven these days, but I'm thinking of taking up the violin
again. It was my first instrument. If I can figure out a way to amplify
it, I can use it in the band. There's a little pickup I've seen people
use on acoustic guitars; it would go on the bridge of the violin ...