Why am I so surprised when I look out of a hotel window and find myself stolen from life, schizophrenia and the travelling musician. For over 40 years I have checked in and out of hotels on the road and found myself at this point during my stay. Home has mostly been the other place, […]
Why am I so surprised when I look out of a hotel window and find myself stolen from life, schizophrenia and the travelling musician.
For over 40 years I have checked in and out of hotels on the road and found myself at this point during my stay. Home has mostly been the other place, home is not this hotel. I stand leaning out of the widow looking at the view, a city, a car park, a forrest, and then there is my reflection looking back at me with all of its history and expressions. Touring is often a huge emotional heave, pushing my positive genes into a place which seems unnatural, but how can this be, it’s been forever after all. I look at other people who tour and I see their shows, their tour dates, Herbie Hancock 45 shows. Elton John, 3 years and more. The list goes on, and then there is the balance that so easily drifts depending on the group feeling. Today in this hotel they are playing Smoke on the Water in the drawing room, it seems out of place, the song takes me back to the person who dreamt of nothing else than endless tours and being in a band strutting pouting and striding the stages of the World. In that single bedroom with my small record player, golden days. Each hotel carries a place in my soul that will forever make up the person who I am, its like they rub off on me, the bee and the pollen. This little flower is the original Pig Hotel in the New Forrest, but why the music in the drawing room? A grand house, a relaxed place to sit and recall the past, to reflect on the now and the coming months, but More than This by Bryan Ferry, I want to run into the forrest and scream. At least in a Premier Inn there is no music, and no drawing room. Tonight a Holiday Inn, no music there too, but a shit breakfast awaits, pods of cereal, warm scrambled eggs, machine coffee. Over the years of refection in so many hotels I can sadly remember most of them in no order of like or dislike but in an order.
America provides so many places to stay, on early tours it was motels and small hotels by the roadside, some nice ones though, like the Sunset Marquee in LA, where today it has been spruced up and looks more inviting than it did when we first toured and tried to out drink the other guests at the poolside. In New York the Grammacy Park was a regular, along with the famous Chelsea Hotel. As things took off we moved into very nice rooms in very tall hotels on the Park, such dizzy heights. Today we stay at the Soho Grand, its never quite there, always so busy and the streets below a tin can of honks and horns. It’s geared up for our stay with lovely young staff who are aware of our appearances over the breakfast table, so nice to see them all again soon.
Airport hotels are scary places, I hate them, I never sleep I just create hours of despair as I await my journey onward. I never sleep. These days some hotels provide record players and a few records to play as bolt ons. Mini bars full of expensive bites and drinks I no longer need, the rooms decadent and vogue ready to entice me to stroll rather than snore. Here in the UK I nip between two very different schools, the Holiday Inn quick sleep and run and the more impressive Pig or Soho House, where provided. In London I’m always spoilt for choice, and thats lovely, and expensive, but I’m 65 years old and have been on tour for ever so I think I can be spoilt from time to time. Always though there is this person who peers out of the window in the morning to see himself away from home, again, it’s the choice of journey, a place of being in the World and who I guess I am. When I was 17 years old loving my guitar and the records I played I had no idea this would be the rest of life, the long refection the sudden loss of love, the separation from family and home. One gives to the other, from hive to flower from wing to honey and back again to rest and hover in mid air while looking back at yourself in the day. This day.
And so the tour rushes towards me, as I fidget with what shall I pack and what do I take on this long six week tour of the states. Shall I treat myself to a new suitcase, how many suits do I take, shirts, socks and pants, its all a calculation of great importance for me. I am my own batman and being so I take great care of the detail. The band have been rehearsing our long and exciting set of songs, many of them, its a long set, how will I stand for that long? I will sway and be in the very moment God provides for me, I hope. I will mince about on stage and the retire to the bus and my bunk, and that refection in the passing countryside, or retire to the bed of a hotel and the standing still moments of any tour.
Time to be at peace with oneself and time to indulge, sleeping, waking and escorting myself into the next day, the next show, and the next memory. The camaraderie of band is passing but respectful, we never really see each other outside of this part of our year, we fly by wire. Solo tours and family, other employment and that thing called pushing an elephant up hill, hope, all shuffle in behind. In keeping with tradition we have stolen the hits from the past and added some album tracks to the mix, ones I never thought we would do but I have to say its worked out very well. Having seen so many tours recently where bands have traded on the past our tour I think will do us proud. Steve Smith and Melvis really add to the sound of our songs, they lift them above the furniture of our past, which is a great thing, and Yolanda nails and pins the song to the very root. Table for one sir? There is a voice, and one day that will be heard too.
One day, if I ever won the pools I would not stop I would just do this differently, to stop would be to miss this part of the party, the part of the party spent in the kitchen. To win the lottery would afford me the home I have to work so hard to build, and the life of my family who extended and became another branch on the Oak. A tree we all enjoy to shelter beneath and belong to. Alas, thats not going to happen as far as I can see, I once heard someone say that I f you do not become a millionaire before the age of 25 it may never happen, and for me that has become the case, and that’s fine. Im happy. Money is not the only thing that drives life, although it would and does provide a steady keel, in somewhat tardy waters, but there may be a case for saying I’m a millionaire in so many other ways. I may have had the money, I have spent so much over the years, all well documented, I enjoyed it all, the suits, the Concord flights and the cars, then passion and the glory. Gone. As families gather for lunch here in this hotel I sit on my table for one and reflect on the many tables for one over the years and the setting it gives me to explore words, to be alone with my thoughts in a crowded room. Over 40 years, on planes in hotels and on busses, the table for one, the seat with the leg room, the lobby perch, the place of being for just a few passing moments.
The other things about hotels is the thing you can take home, treats, fee-bees, in the past it was small bars of soap neatly wrapped and boxes of matches, I also enjoyed nicking keys with fobs attached, I had a huge collection at one time but now all in the skip. More recently its been towels, I have a pile of nice white towels at home, my favourite are the ones form the Holiday Inn, rough and ready to use. Other things include face creams and gel? Body lotion and shampoo in nice bottles, but why, we have so many of these treats at home, too many maybe to ever use. Im now on a mission to walk away with spoons, knifes and forks, ones that look worth nicking naturally. Some hotels provide slippers and shaving kits, even ducks for the bath. Swag is good but too much of it can hamper the journey, its good to get things for free, mini bars have intelligent shelves which way each item and if you try to walk away with a bottle of something you will get billed, how tight it that. Some hotels charge massive amounts for packets of crisps, and bars of chocolate. Nibbles can be expensive. The local corner shop is well worth a trip pre any hotel visit. I think some hotels charge if you leave with magazines. Who wants them anyway. Looking out of my window this morning I saw the face of a chap about to leave for another tour, possibly the longest in recent years. I see the face of a person who has been here so many times before yet it seems like the first time, the very first time with this amount of baggage, so many lessons to learn and so many stages to fill with song. People are booking nights out to see us play, I know what a commitment this can be, and therefore I must see the reflection of a person who wants also to commit to the performance of tomorrow.
We all hate to be away from home and the cushions we all love, the bed we sleep in, the arms we hold and the reflection in the shaving mirror of the person who is trying hard not to be so down on myself about the journey. Touring is compromise on many levels, its a handing over of personal space and feelings, but it’s also a place where great wisdom can be found and a love for an image that defines ones life, for the here, for the past and for the now. The challenges can be great, and I respect that everyone in the band sacrifices something to be over the footlights, all this from one add in a sweetshop window, all this from one single bed and a few dodgy records on the record player.