I don’t actually remember anything he said. Bart ushered me into the window seat in the very last row of the plane, buckled himself into the seat next to me. Chris was sitting two rows away. Everyone else was at least ten or fifteen rows in front of us, almost all roadies.
After we reached cruising altitude, Flip and Colin came and placed themselves nearby, too, but they didn’t interrupt Bart.
I honestly don’t remember anything he said. He said a lot. I’m sure a lot of it was very smart and made a lot of sense. But all I remember is the feeling that the band was closing ranks around me to protect me. (And I counted Flip and Colin in “the band.” I’d played in bands with both of them, after all.)
I have to say I appreciate a lot that my friends were so supportive. I got the feeling Bart had been watching from the sidelines for a while and finally felt he had to try to do something.
What was uncomfortable, as usual, was the idea that they were talking amongst themselves to determine what to do with me. But I didn’t have the energy to fight that.
When Bart got tired, he tagged out and Christian came in.
“You think you need it, but you don’t,” he said.
“What you need is to get healthy and not be trying to use substances to make yourself superhuman.”
“Oh.” Yeah, I suppose.
“I know Flip means well, and I know he’s our resident expert at getting broken rock stars onto the stage, but at the end of next week he goes on to his next gig, while Bart and Colin and me’ve gotta live with you.”
My heart lodged in my throat making it hard to breathe. Was I really going back to Boston? Part of me desperately wanted to. Or was I going back to New York with Ziggy? Which I really wanted to, needed to, and expected to…? On top of all the turmoil I had going on in my mind, I now suddenly felt like I was facing down the barrel of a shotgun with a decision I hadn’t even realized I had to make. Or which I had pushed to the back of my mind, at least, but now it was staring me in the face.
“I need help,” I told him.
“You’ve got it,” he said, and rubbed his hand between my shoulder blades. I cried into my folded arms on my tray table until I guess I fell asleep.
When I woke up, Bart was back on watch. “We’re landing in a little bit,” he said.
“I don’t know what to do,” I told him.
“That’s because you’re out of your head,” he said, as if that should be a reassuring conclusion. “Let’s talk about something different.”
“Like what we should do with Star*Gaze if Artie doesn’t come around.”
I sat up a little straighter, my whole self, brain and body and soul, feeling bruised and tender to the touch. Focusing on a question felt good, though. “You mean like should we try to find an indie label who would do it?”
“Or start a vanity label to do it ourselves to avoid the legal complications?”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” The major label clauses that gave them certain kinds of exclusivity and control on both us as musicians and the music we wrote were a perpetual concern, but there were ways around it if you were clever.
“Or do we let it go?”
My reflex was, of course, defensive. “I can’t believe you’re suggesting that.”
Bart shrugged. “I’m not suggesting it. I’m just pointing out it is one of the options. Shelve it.”
I found myself considering it, trying the idea on for size. “But it’s good.”
“Even though you hate performing it?”
God, I was uncomfortable all of a sudden. “I do not hate performing it.”
He waited a beat. “Now’s not the time to unpack that.” Which was his way of saying he disagreed with me but wasn’t going to argue about it. “How do you feel?”
“Slightly less fragile than I did two hours ago,” I said. “Slightly.”
He nodded. “Well, that’s something.”
(Another hit from 1991. This one was hitting the radio while we were in South America. -d)