(Welcome to September! We’re back on our Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule! And don’t forget the deadline for the meme contest —click for details— is September 9th! -ctan)
So the thing about live music is that it’s live. It’s not always predictable. And shit happens. A cracked toilet at the venue makes a flood that shorts out the lights. A dog gets loose and jumps into the grand piano and knocks it out of tune. People get sick or injured. This is one reason why, to me, it’s so important to stay sharp and not just fall into a rut of expecting it to be the same all the time. Because something is always going to make you change or adjust.
On this particular night some kind of a lighting problem hit us just at the end of a song, right before we had planned to do “Wishing Well,” and to get us and Louis and the show in general back on track we skipped it and decided to insert it later in the set. Fran was fine. Once the show started any nerves she had were blown away and she had given me that circle motion with her hand that meant “move on.”
Later in the set turned out to be in the second of three encores. I know, we really pulled out all the stops on this one. The crowd was into it, energy was high, and it got to the point actually where we got cooking so much that we pushed the tempo to the limit on “Riptide.” The song was from the new album so it was really great to see people get so into it. Maybe people can’t help it when the band takes off like a team of horses and carriage with no driver. We also knew the song after that would be a slow one, so we didn’t mind driving right off a cliff like that. I went to drink a little water from the bottle I had sitting at the bottom of the drum riser after that, needing both the hydration and the breather, and Martin threw a towel at me.
I threw it back. “Like that was my fault? You’re the drummer!”
“Stop me before I do that again!” he yelled, laughing.
Great show. Great, great show. People sang and I know it sounds corny to say it but it felt like a lot of love. Humans are weird. When they get together in groups odd things can happen. Emotionally, I mean. There are shows where it feels like everyone’s angry, and there are shows where it feels like everyone’s bored. This one felt like everyone was having the time of their lives. Maybe they were.
When we finally got to “Wishing Well” I introduced Fran to much cheering. Before the show I’d actually started to worry a little that this time it wasn’t going to fly, that the audience was going to go blank and give us a “what the…?” reaction—you know, like it might put them off that this wasn’t what they expected. I’m sure that Remo being white, straight, male, and rugged, and Fran being none of those things had something to do with me thinking that. Or maybe the negative thoughts were all from me stressing about everything too much.
Yeah, I had been stressing about everything, hadn’t I?
Fran moved her mic stand down next to mine to do the song and I gave her a little wink before we started. Any and all worries had been left behind an hour before and I was feeling good.
It went fine. It went more than fine. People screamed with delight when they figured out what song it was, and Fran and I vamped at each other shamelessly. God, it was fun. When it was done, and the cheers and screams were raining down, Fran grabbed me and hugged me and busted out crying. They might have been tears of relief or joy or both–I didn’t exactly have the chance to ask. She left my cheek wet from a big sloppy kiss (and tears) and then took a bow to more applause. She sang the doors off that building and the audience knew it.
When you come off the stage feeling like the king of the world is a good time to go to a party, actually. At least if you’re me. Euphoria, for me, is the feeling that everyone likes me, like I can’t say or do anything wrong, like I don’t have to sit in the corner and be quiet because if I say something wrong they’ll all start hating me. Instead of the usual feeling that people are scary or baffling, I feel like people are, well, awesome, and so am I.
I think even as Hollywood music industry parties go this one was kind of an epic party. Instead of being in a suite, it was on a pool deck at the hotel I didn’t even know existed. At one point of course this meant that Martin and four well-dressed women all ended up in the pool while fully clothed — I was unsure whether they fell in truly by accident or if it was a dare or what. The end result was the same, all five of them eventually in nothing but underwear in the hot tub and a lot of clothes at the deep end of the pool.
Ziggy made his appearance shortly after that, joining a fairly impressive roster of A-list celebrities in attendance. I also saw Chernwick, and very briefly Cadmon Molina introduced me to Joe Satriani, but we didn’t really get to talk. All I knew about him was that Satriani was the guy best known for doing a kind of mix of shred metal guitar with fusion jazz and I used to play the album Surfing with the Alien in the jazz department at Tower fairly often. I realized later I probably should have tried to pick up some wisdom about guitar instrumental solo albums or something from him. I’m not a focused schmoozer. Maybe if I was lucky Carynne picked his manager’s brain, which would be more useful.
And then I was contemplating how to clue Ziggy in that I was running out of steam and wanted to get out of there when Remo caught up to me. “There you are!” He gave me a one-armed side hug. He smelled like whisky and old denim and wood polish and I had a flashback to sitting on the wooden floor of his living room teaching myself songs on the guitar. “Seen Carynne?”
“Not in a while, but–” I pointed to the other side of the pool. “There she is.”
“Come on.” He took off through the crowd and I followed him around the curve of the pool until we’d reached her.
I missed the first couple of words he said to both of us, the other voices echoing off the concrete around us wiping them out, but I tried to focus when he put a hand on each of our upper arms. This was something serious.
“I know this is kind of sudden, but I didn’t want to wait and I wanted to talk to you both about it. I know it’s a little weird, too, but I want you guys to think about it. Let me know next week, maybe. Okay? Because I know it’s a lot to ask.”
“Reem,” Carynne said, “what’s a lot to ask?”
Remo nodded self-deprecatingly. “Right. Basically, I want you two to be Ford’s godparents.”
Carynne’s mouth hung open a little and she blinked her thick, cat-eye lashes.
I don’t know which surprised Carynne more, that he asked us (us?) or that I said, “Of course. I mean, I will, anyway. I don’t know how Carynne feels about it.”
Carynne asked, “Why us? I mean, I get why Daron, but why both of us?”
“Because if something happened to me and Melissa, I know the two of you would raise him right.”
She looked from him to me. “Does that work, though? I mean, don’t godparents have to be married?”
Remo snorted. “The two of you are way more contractually obligated to each other than most married couples I know. And you get along better, too.”
“Better than Alan and his wife?” she asked, glancing over at them by the champagne fountain.
“Way better. I’ve got reasons for preferring you two.”
Reasons I guess he wasn’t going to share. I spoke up again. “You’re sure Melissa’s okay with it?”
“Yes,” he said. “You don’t have to answer me now. Talk it over. I’ll understand if you say no.”
“I’m not saying no,” I insisted. “But I don’t need the title godparent to be for Ford what you were for me.”
So that was the second time that night that somebody burst into tears on me, only Remo tried to hide it with a couple of coughs and wiping his eyes on his sleeve. I guess saying it flat out like that cut too close to the bone.
“Think about it,” Remo pretended to insist before he let himself be pulled away by someone.
Carynne turned to me. “You’re serious.”
“Of course I’m serious. It’s obvious I’m going to be that kid’s role model, isn’t it?”
“You think he’s going to grow up to be an accountant or a dentist or something?”
“Well, no, but that’s not what I’m saying.”
“What are you saying?”
She shrugged. “Well, aren’t you freaked out? Why aren’t you freaked out? I can’t believe there’s something I’m freaked out about that you aren’t.”
“I guess it’s a little weird that we count as a couple in Remo’s mind, but I can see the logic in it.” I wondered if Remo had been thinking about asking us for months or if he just thought of it today. “You know what? I kind of get the feeling that even though I’m over Remo abandoning me when I was a teenager, he isn’t.”
“I’m still surprised you agreed so fast.”
“I’ll freak out about it later, I guess.” I couldn’t imagine actually raising Ford, of course. If something happened to Melissa and Remo I’m sure legally it’d be Melissa’s family who would step in. I suppose if that happened, making sure his godparents were people like me and Carynne would be all the more important. Anything to prevent the kid from growing up too stiflingly normal.
I wondered if Remo and I were going to have a fight over what his first guitar should be.