Four days later, we flew United to Chicago O’Hare where a driver was supposed to meet us. I’d traded in my denim jacket for my somewhat battered black trench coat, and put on the round sunglasses Matthew had given me way back when. The contracts were in my backpack again and I felt weird traveling with no guitar. I set the pack down on the moving walkway as we drifted under waves of neon sculpture toward baggage claim. I was tired. Five days at home hadn’t been restful. I’d spent most of it on the phone or going back and forth from one office to another, lawyers, Charles River, a booking agent who might set up our own tour… I hadn’t seen the others at all, except for Christian because we lived in the same house.
As we neared the end of the walkway, I turned to the others and looked over the top of the sunglasses. “You know what I want to do?” They waited for the answer. “Rehearse.”
“Aww, Dad,” Christian said, but I could see in his face he agreed with me.
“It’s been almost a week and I don’t want to sound like crap.”
“When?” Bart pushed at my shoulder and I realized I had to step off the walkway.
“Let’s try to drag things out at soundcheck if we can.”
At the carousel Christian’s luggage was missing. While he went to find out what to do about it, I scanned the signs of the limo drivers waiting there. What was this sign going to say? There were none that read Moondog 3, BNC, MNB, none of our individual names either. I went back to where Ziggy and Bart were flanking our bags. “What was John’s last name?”
“Beats me.” Bart said and Ziggy just shrugged.
“Do either of you recall him saying what hotel we’re supposed to go to?”
Negative shakes of heads.
Christian came back. “They say it’s on the way on another flight and they’ll deliver it to the hotel. Which hotel are we staying at?”
We all looked at him with expressions of despair, confusion, and annoyance.
He looked at me. So did the other two.
“Yeah, I know, I know. I’m in charge.”
Ziggy punched me in the arm. “You’re the boss.”
“Let me find a phone.”
I called Mills’ office in New York and spoke to his secretary, who told me, among other things, John’s last name again (Masters), and his pager number. She also told me what hotel she thought we wanted, but added that we should probably check with John first. I did not tell her we were in the airport but she probably guessed. Then I had to find a pay phone that took incoming calls, and called John’s pager.
About the time I was ready to give up on this tactic, I saw John himself walking toward me, scanning like he was looking for someone. He had his sunglasses perched on top of his head and despite his satin MNB tour jacket looked something like a preppie cruise director. Must be the short hair. I waved and he trotted over to me. “Aha. Glad I found you. We’ll be off in a second, I have to return a page.”
“No you don’t.” I pointed to the number on the phone next to me.
“Great. I almost didn’t recognize you. New coat?”
“No, very old coat.” I led him back to the others and filled him in on the missing luggage situation. He went to the luggage window to give the correct instructions for delivery of Christian’s delayed stuff, and then took us to a rented minivan. There were a lot of concrete ramps to negotiate and John kept quiet until we were on the way out of the airport proper. “You guys have a choice. Either I can take you to the hotel, check you into your rooms, and then take you to the hall, or I can take you directly to the hall, and I’ll have your stuff brought to the hotel later.”
“Is there a difference?”
He looked at his watch. “The hall’s actually a half hour away. The hotel is maybe twenty minutes the other direction. If we go to the hotel, then to the hall, you won’t get there until five, five-thirty. Maybe longer if the traffic is bad. Chicago traffic severely sucks.”
“No lie, bwana,” said Bart, as the van came to a stop in a river of red brake lights.
“What time is soundcheck?”
“You’ll probably miss it if we don’t go straight there.”
“That’s what I wanted to know.” I looked around at the others and told John we were hoping to get a little rehearsal time in during check.
Everyone was quiet for the rest of the ride. I wondered if the others felt as harried as I did. Ten million little details and not one of them had gone quite right yet. Maybe this was why people hired managers. Tour managers, road managers, personal managers, career managers, image managers… but who would manage all the managers? I didn’t want to hear anything more about details or management. I only wanted to get a guitar in my hands.
EMI finally joined the Internet age, so now tons of videos we couldn’t embed before are now magically available! Here’s the original of this song:
Meanwhile, here’s John Waite doing the song acoustic in a record store, taped by a fan…