623. Talking in Your Sleep

A limo came at the crack of dawn to take us to the TV studio. I had slept okay, just not enough, and when I’m really tired everything feels painful. Like even coffee is painfully hot or painfully bitter–even after I’ve put sugar and milk in it. Remo directed the limo to take us through a drive-thru, and got an entire bag of McDonalds hash browns and made me eat one. That made me feel a bit more awake.

We were taciturn and drowsy together. We discussed what we were going to play while we tuned our guitars in the green room. Then a producer or director of some kind, a woman, came and asked what we had in mind, and Remo hit a switch and went into a higher energy mode: charming yet down to Earth rock star mode. I was still my tired self.

They brought us into the studio and started miking us up on a soundstage off to one side while the live broadcast was going on from one of the other sets. They were trying to figure out the best place to clip the lapel mic on me when I asked, “Am I going to actually talk?”

“Oh, aren’t you?” the PA who was doing it asked.

Remo and I looked at each other. “You should do the talking,” I said to him.

“Well, okay, but in case they do ask you something or you want to chime in,” he said, “you should have one just in case.”

“Okay. But I’m not planning to say anything.” Famous last words.

So the way we did it is when we got the cue from the director we played “Raindrops,” and during the instrumental intro they talked over it, introducing us. They said something about Nomad having played Madison Square Garden and the new album. Then just as the first verse came in, the cameras went on us. That was when I woke up.

Have I mentioned before that television studio lights are very hot? It was like being on the beach at noon in August except we were way overdressed for that.

Whatever. I could stand anything for 12 minutes, which was the length of our segment, I think.

We ended the song, and Remo bantered with the hosts while I tuned my G-string which had gotten stretchy under the hot lights. I was only listening to the banter with one ear but it went something like this.

Remo Cutler, Rolling Stone called you ‘a quintessentially American act with perennial appeal.'”

“Well, I am American, and Nomad hits the road every year like, like–”

“A gypsy moth caterpillar infestation?” I added helpfully, thinking of the branches we often saw from the highway, weighed down by heavy tents of webby cocoons.

They all laughed.

Remo cleared his throat. “But actually, Katie, I have a bit of an announcement to make about that.”

“Oh?” The hosts looked at one another, surprised by this or very good at acting like it.

“Yep. This is actually going to be the last big Nomad tour for a little while.”

“Oh, really?” The female host never lost her white-toothed smile. “Why would that be?”

“Oh, er, because of my son really.”

She looked past him at me, not comprehending. “Oh, is he…?”

Remo glanced back at me, then at her. “No no, this isn’t…”

“We haven’t introduced your co-musician,” she said, then, forging ahead smoothly past the cross wires in the conversation. “You are…?”

“Oh, me?” I felt very suddenly on the spot. There were half a dozen ways to answer that question and I was trying to pick the one that would deflect the spotlight from me, put it back on Nomad and Remo. But I was sleepy and wired at the same time, and not very quick on my feet, and damn me for picking a stage name that started with the same letter as my real name. “I’m Daron Moondog.” Crap, said the wrong one. Nothing like having spaghetti tongue on national television. “Marks, I mean. I’m going by Daron Marks now.”

The host opened her mouth to ask about that, I saw it, but Remo jumped in, thank goodness. “Daron’s an original member of Nomad who’s on the tour with us this year.”

“But not your son,” the host said, bringing us back to the original bombshell.

Remo chuckled. “No, my son ‘s a newborn. And I’m going to try to spend less time on the road in the next couple of years so I can be around while he’s growing up. Don’t worry. We’re not breaking up, and we’ll still play some dates, but the tours have been getting longer and longer and while I love it, I love being on the road, that’s no place to raise a baby.”

“Or to act like one,” I added, making them all laugh again.

“Okay, and your new record is Passer. I understand you’re going to play us something from that? Is that a football reference?”

“A passer is actually a kind of migratory bird,” Remo said. “We’re going to play ‘Talk All Night.'”

So we played the song and he sang, and we went until they went to commercial, and the red light on the camera went off, and we finished the song quickly after that but we didn’t just cut off–neither of us felt that was right, I guess.

When we got back to the green room there was a surprise waiting for us: a publicist from Wenco waiting to take us over to WPLJ FM to do the morning drive radio slot. A brief debate went on between Remo and the publicist, who was a young woman about my age, about whether we should walk or take a cab. Remo insisted we walk. I was fine with walking, too once I heard how close we were to the station. By the time we got a cab and navigated rush hour traffic we could have been there.

So carrying our guitars and with this publicist in tow, we hoofed it from Rockefeller Center a couple blocks over to the skyscraper that housed WPLJ FM and some of the other businesses owned by ABC/Cap Cities. They hustled us into a studio, we tuned up quickly during a commercial break and shook hands with the DJ, who was a middle aged guy who reminded me of Kermit the Frog somehow. Ended up doing almost the same thing as before, except this time they only gave Remo a mic to talk into. They chatted a little, we played “Talk All Night,” then they chatted more, and then we played “Raindrops,” after which they went right into another song.

Out in the lobby they had some merch for us to sign for giveaways, and the program director, a guy with a neatly trimmed gray beard, in jeans and a casual button down shirt, also brought out some Moondog Three stuff for me to autograph. While we were doing that he asked, almost offhandedly, “So what’s happening with the band and Ziggy? The official word we got is that the band is on hiatus while Ziggy works on other projects, but…” He trailed off.

“But rumor has it the other projects are a solo album?” I shrugged.

“We played the crap out of that single he dropped.”

“Yeah, hard to blame the record company for wanting to ride that horse,” I said, and I think I sounded remarkably not bitter. It didn’t seem like a good idea to tell him the whole truth, though. “There’s still legal wrangling going on, nothing that’s easy to explain or understand. All there is to know is that we’re in limbo.”

“Ah. Gotcha.” He shook his head like it was a shame corporate stupidity was depriving the world of our music. “Well, good to see you’re keeping busy.”


The publicist was sitting by the door to the elevator rubbing her foot with her pointy-toed shoe on the floor. She startled when we came out of the PD’s office, and hurriedly put her shoe back on.

“You okay to walk back to Wenco?” I asked.

“It’s only a couple of blocks,” Remo said.

“Not you, tough guy, her. We made her walk all the way here in heels.”

Remo looked surprised (and so did the publicist, who I confess I had already forgotten the name of). “Oh. So sorry ma’am. Why didn’t you say something?”

“Oh, it’s fine,” she said quickly. “I’m all right.”

“Let’s get a cab,” Remo said. Once his gallantry was engaged, of course, there was no swaying him. “Come on.”

“How do you know about women’s shoes?” the publicist finally asked, when we were in the elevator on the way down.

“I grew up with three sisters and a very vain mother,” I said. “I never, ever heard one of them wear heels without complaining about how much it hurt.”

“It’s not that bad,” she said again, but I think she was just trying to keep Remo from feeling bad. “If I’d known we were going to walk, I would have changed back into my Reeboks.”

“They are very nice shoes,” Remo said, then coughed a little as if he’d embarrassed himself. “I mean, thanks for wearing them on our account. Uh, I did not mean that to come out, uh, flirtatious.”

She chuckled. “It’s all right, Mr. Cutler. Here we are.” She led us out of the elevator on the ground floor and we went to hail a cab to take us the few blocks to Wenco’s offices.

(P.S. suddenly a slew of writer career news all at once: I’m the winner of the RT Magazine Career Achievement Award in Erotic Romance, and also today I can finally officially announce I’m writing a new paranormal/urban fantasy series for Tor Books! That’s one of the things that is going to keep me super-busy this summer! -ctan)


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