270. Rock Me Tonight

The venue can be beautiful and high tech and still not perfect. Soundcheck was slightly delayed while some tech problem was sorted out, so the whole band was there on the stage before I had a chance to play my usual warmup.

Petey, the island of salt and pepper hair on his balding head sticking up like he’d been pulling on it, said to me before we started, “If you’re going over tonight, city ordinance says sound’s got to be off by 10pm sharp.”

“Don’t worry, Pete,” I said. “Show’s starting at five, there’s no way I’m keeping us that long!”

“Can I get that in writing?” He cracked a smile.

After check, I went back to the dressing room to change clothes and get my eyeliner on. My “crazy face” as Marty would put it.

I told Ziggy that after he had lined my eyes. We were sitting in two chairs facing each other, knees interleaved.

He laughed. “You want to see something really crazy? Check this out.” He dug into a bag and pulled out a packet of sequins, brand new, still with the price tag on it. Where he’d found a craft store I don’t know.

I felt a sudden chill. That image of his face, the album cover that only existed in my mind, haunted me. “Shiny,” I said.

His hand fell warmly on my knee. “You don’t think so?”

“For your clothes or your face?” I asked.

“Crazy face,” he quoted. “I was thinking around my eyes, maybe. I have to play with it and see.”

“Uh huh.”

He squinted. “What’s the matter?”

What was the matter was that it felt like a ball of ice had just formed in my stomach. “Nothing. I’m just tired from not sleeping enough.”

“Daron.” His voice was soft and he leaned forward. “You gotta tell me if there’s something.”

I just shook my head. “Just my usual shit,” I said. “You want to work on something? Let’s work on a song for the recording day in New Orleans.”

He sat up straight and looked around. No one else was in the room at the time, but he said, “Let’s go work on it in the bus.”

“Okay.” I trusted him enough at this point that I didn’t immediately think he was maneuvering me into a compromising situation.

And he wasn’t. We actually worked on a song.

“What do you think,” he said, as we settled onto the benches in the back lounge. “Something you wrote or something I wrote?”

I had the Ovation across my lap and tuned it a little. “I think the question is what do we want to give up. I mean, if this song shoots its wad we can’t put it on the next album, right? So it has to be something we’re willing to let go.”

“We should pick something good, but I get what you mean.” He sat cross-legged. “Definitely not ‘Changes,’ or whatever we’re going to call that. Definitely not that one you’ve been working on.”

“Infernal Medicine?”

“Yeah. Although play me how that goes again? We should totally work on it tomorrow.”

I played through what I had. I’d figured out some more of the incidental riffs and I sang through the first verse.

Nothing tempts me like your lips
Lush as honey and twice as sweet
Your skin slips under my fingertips
As silvery cool as a satin sheet

“I like silvery instead of slippery,” he said, when I was done.

“You know, I think maybe it was supposed to be slippery but silvery came out when I wrote it down.” I didn’t have the original note sheet on front of me now. “I’m not even sure it’s a word.”

“It is now.” He grinned. “Okay, my turn. I think I know what song we should try.”

“Something I haven’t heard yet?”

He nodded. “I got this idea watching TV. If we use the words ‘good to the last drop’ do you think that coffee company could sue us?”

“I have no idea. That’s a Digger question. For now, though, I gotta think quoting is okay.”

“Okay. I’m thinking this one needs the same kind of guitar as Grenadier. Loud and explosive.”

I nodded.

“But for now, here’s a softer version. I’m calling it ‘Milking It.'”

Now, not every singer can just belt something out with no accompaniment. But as I think I’ve said multiple times, Ziggy wasn’t your run-of-the-mill singer.

Here’s what he hit me with.

Milking it for all its worth
Good to the last drop

Grab hold, don’t let go
Not done with you yet
Lady Fame, she’s an old flame
Don’t let her down yet

She wants a reason, she wants a rhyme
She doesn’t want to be alone this time
Lady Fame and Lady Luck
Give them the time, they’ll give a fuck

Grab hold, don’t let go
Not done with you yet
Lady Fame, she’s an old flame
Don’t let her down yet

Milking it for all its worth
Good to the last drop

I got a handle on the problem that’s you
When it gets slippery is when you slip loose
If we’re going to win this game, we’ll do it together
Uphill both ways in all kinds of weather

Grab hold, don’t let go
Not done with you yet
Lady Fame, she’s an old flame
Don’t let her down yet

Milking it for all its worth
Good to the last drop

Good to the last drop

We sat there staring at each other when he was done. I wanted to ask when he wrote it. But I didn’t trust my voice just then. Instead I picked out the melody, or a piece of one that might fit, anyway. He’d sung it with a tune but it was clear to me it was a working tune, not a full melody. That wouldn’t come until all the chords were hanging around it.

I cleared my throat. “I could start it kind of quiet, actually, with the twelve-string maybe? And then go electric when the first verse kind of bursts out?”

His eyes lit up. “That wouldn’t be too much like that Bon Jovi song? Dead or Alive?”

“Not too much,” I said. I knew what he meant. “But just try that verse with me now, I’m thinking this.” I strummed a chord progression with a jazzy kink in the middle.

His eyes got wider. “Ye-e-e-e-sss,” he said. “A little ‘Cabaret’ note. Oh yes.”

“To go with the ‘Lady Luck’ reference,” I said.

We played the verse through, with him firming up the melody, and wrapping his voice around that twist.

Fuck, it was good. He gave a little clap at the end and said, “God, I love…! That.”

I’m not an idiot. I heard that hesitation. I don’t have the best ears in this fucking band for nothing.

“Let’s hope the producers love it, too,” I said, and stood up, stretching, the guitar in one hand by the neck. “Come on. Let’s see how the crowd looks.”

“Okay.” He held out his fist though, and I bumped it boy-scout style, like a hammer. He hammered back when I kept mine there, and out we went. I don’t think either of us was satisfied with that as punctuation on the end of the not-conversation we’d just had, but there you go.


  • sanders says:

    Oh, Ziggy. I can’t help but hope we get to hear from his POV again sometime soon. I’d love to know what on earth is going through his head. Then again, I’m sure Daron would, too. This was a lovely chapter.

    Is there any chance, Cecilia, that you’ll do more readings from the story? I watched the chat and it was fabulous to hear you give literal voice to Daron, particularly Daron’s coming out to Remo.

    • ctan says:

      If Daron could actually see, or understand, what’s going on in Ziggy’s head, things would be sooo different…

      I would like to do more readings & chats. That was really fun. I’m on the road this weekend, so it’ll have to wait until next week? Maybe I should put up a little poll on when people would be able to make it.

      Any requests on what scene you’d like me to tackle next? 🙂

      • sanders says:

        The scenes sticking out to me today are accidental(?) shoplifting and the adventure of dyeing Ziggy’s hair. I’m curious how you would voice Ziggy. The Spin article is another thing I think would be fun to hear read. Honestly, though, I would listen to anything from the story because I love author readings.

        I think the idea of the “Behind the Music” parody mentioned below is great. I wonder if there are any brave vidders among your readers who would take a stab at it? I’m sort of surprised no one has done a trailer for DGC yet, but I’m not sure what your policy on fanworks is.

        • ctan says:

          I <3 fanworks and wholeheartedly support them. (If anyone’s curious, my statement in support of fanworks is online here: http://blog.ceciliatan.com/?page_id=331) I might put a pointer to that in a future liner note, too (and ask people what other scenes they might like read, too).

          The shoplifting scene might be interesting. Daron’s in an odd frame of mind there…

  • cayra says:

    Ohh, nice song. I like how it sounds in my head.

  • Jaime S. says:

    I loved this! I especially liked the first song and Ziggy’s hesitation at the end! Perfect. Can’t wait for more! 😀

  • deb h says:

    loved it ,I love the whole creative process ,I can’t get enough of those behide the scence things they do (or use to)on mtv .

  • s says:

    Told ya, Daron. Believe it. I love the creative process. As I said before, I’m fascinated by song writing. I love writing stories, but music is just…I don’t know how to explain it…not a skill I possess anyway.

    • daron says:

      For me songwriting can come from any direction. An idea for a lyric or a title of a song, or the idea for a riff or a sound or a way to put notes together and then words come later. Or sometimes mysteriously the words and the notes arrive together before you even realize what they are or what they mean.

  • Bill Heath says:

    ctan, Ziggy has picked up your flair for layering information and meanings. The top layer of “Milking It” is the least interesting, although it’s really fine. The next layer down seems to be about Ziggy’s pursuit of adulation in the form of fame and luck. Vorimitation at its finest.

    The third layer is (IMO) about his complicated relationship with Daron. “We’ll do it together, Uphill both ways in all kinds of weather.” From the very beginning the relationship has been uphill both ways.

    And the title! Milking it: music; M3; Daron; fame; adulation; and the list goes on.

    Daron is exceptionaly perceptive, he just needs time to process the information. Like, maybe, three years or so. I wonder what he’s going to think about Milking It in 1992?

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