664. Obvious Song

We hit Haight Street, I ate a muffin, and then we drove to the radio station, where it turned out I was doing two separate segments, one live during drive time and one being taped for use later on a weekend show that was syndicated nationally. Cool. During the live segment I played “Awash” and made the interviewer and his engineer do the part of the waves crashing at the beginning by going “psshhhhh” into their mics.

When the song ended the engineer broke in. “I have to say something,” he said.

The interviewer gestured for him to keep going.

“Man, I’ve had the CD on repeat in my car for a while now and I assumed that song was you, like, overdubbing yourself. But you just, basically, pretty much played the whole thing right here in front of my eyes.”

“Oh, you thought it was more than one guitar part?” I asked.

“Yes. I mean, you have so much going on there, with the ka-ching and the twang and the tapping.”

“What can I say?” I said with a shrug. “I’ve got ten fingers and I keep nine of them busy.” If you really want to see it get complicated, put me in the same room with a repeater pedal.

When we were done with the taping, I sat down with two journalists who had been listening from the adjacent studio. The radio station let us hang around and use one of their conference rooms. And to be clear, I sat down with one and then the other so that they could have different quotes. One was from a local magazine called BAM (which I think stands for Bay Area Music, or something like that) and the other was a freelancer who told me, once he’d started his tape recorder going, that his assignment was for Guitar Player, but he was hoping to maybe also land some sidebars.

Musician reviewed the album so I figure they’re into you, and there are a couple of other places I can try, if there’s enough material, and if that ‘s okay with you,” he said.

“Sure,” I said, without really thinking. “My ex used to do the same thing.”

“Oh, who’d she write for?”

I blinked like he’d thrown a glass of ice water in my face. Right. Wow. Whiplash. I decided not to get into it. “Everyplace, duh,” I said with a laugh.

Laughing it off worked, he didn’t pry, and I harangued myself mentally to keep the focus on music. Thankfully that wasn’t hard to do. Whereas the BAM guy had asked a lot of questions about Ziggy and my career and blah blah blah, this guy was happy to geek out over equipment, musical styles, my time on the streets of Spain learning flamenco, Guitar Craft, conservatory, and that time I was living in Jordan’s loft so I could braindump a couple of years worth of songs into the ecosystem of modern pop. Until I laid it all out for someone like that I hadn’t quite realized how much I’d done in addition to Mooondog Three, that soundtrack, this album, plus two tours with Nomad… I’d done a lot.

“My sight reading’s getting rusty, though, and my transcription’s probably shot to hell, too,” I told him when we were talking music theory. “When I get home I should brush up. Ear training is hand-eye training, too.” Maybe Bart would be up for quizzing each other on intervals and solfege.

And then voila, it was done, and Carynne and I got in the car and I had a little bout of the shakes from leftover adrenaline.

“Was it that bad? You want me to sit in with you next time?”

“No no no, it was fine,” I assured her. “Really. Piece of cake.” Ugh, the more I said, the more it made it sound like I was covering up. “There was only one dicey moment where I almost accidentally outed myself and Jonathan, but I didn’t.”

She started the car and I took that to mean she believed I was okay. “All right. Where do you want to eat?”

“On a Monday night? Aren’t good restaurants always closed on Mondays?”

“Not always. Not ethnic places, anyway. I’m sure tons of stuff in Japantown is open.”

“Oooh!” I had a sudden flashback. “I know. Can you find that Moroccan restaurant we ate in that one time? Do you remember what I’m talking about? Digger got up and danced with a belly dancer and we all gave him shit and stuffed dollar bills into his waistband.”

She snorted with laughter. “Oh my god, I remember that. I flew in ahead of you guys. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it wasn’t that far from the hotel…” She made a right and went up a hill and I watched the scenery go by. I had a vague idea where the restaurant was in relation to the hotel we’d stayed in that time, but I had no idea how to get from where we were now to there.

It was trafficky even though it was past rush-hour, and a bit frustrating since that made it slow to drive around and look for something, so when at one point we were in a downtown-y part and we were stuck in the middle of a block, I suddenly said, “wait, wait, pull up here, I’ll be right back.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Pull up in front of that hotel.” I pointed to the one spot where cars unloading could stop. She pulled over and I went inside a really old but still very nice-looking hotel.

Five minutes later I came out with a photocopied map, a route highlighted on it, and a dinner reservation for two. And the concierge’s phone number. Not that I was planning to call it, but he was a forceful flirt.

As it turned out, we went to a different Moroccan restaurant than we’d been to back in ’89, but it was just as delicious, and this time no belly dancers, just an old guy with an oud and a young guy with a dumbek. Which I much preferred to a dancer as you might expect. I of course ended up trying to talk to the guy with the oud about the oud, but he didn’t really speak English, so the young guy–possibly his son?–translated. The oud is a stringed instrument I only had passing familiarity with at that point so of course I was curious. The language barrier, and the fact that they were working, kept me from pestering them too much.

When we were done with dinner, Carynne asked if I wanted to go anywhere else.

“What, you mean like out drinking or to see a band or something?”

“Well, yeah.”

“If you want to go check out local bands, I’m up for it,” I told her. “But I’m also happy to just go back to the hotel and crash. Are we both flying out tomorrow?”

“We are. I’m coming with you to Maryland.”

“I thought you said I was flying by myself.”

“Change of plans,” she said with a shrug.

“Is this a change of plans I should pry about?” I asked. “Something fall through with one of your other bands?”

“I’ll tell you if it becomes important,” she said. “Anyway, dig the paper out of my briefcase and see if there’s anything that looks good.”

Something did look good, and so we went out to see some totally anonymous local bands totally anonymously. I got drunk for the second night in a row (though not as drunk, obviously) and then we went back to the hotel. All in all a good day.

(Another competent but ultimately forgotten hit from 1991 by admitted bisexual Joe Jackson. -d)

Don’t forget to leave questions to be answered during the Nov. 10th online chat!


  • s says:

    Whoops, little slip of the tongue. It’s hard to keep secrets secret.

    Btw, I heard “Hold the Line” this morning on the radio and immediately pictured you, Bart, and Chris on stage playing around and cutting up with that song. I’d forgotten some of the words when I read that chapter, but you were right. It’s a good thing Ziggy didn’t know them. They were just a little too perfect for what was going on between you two at that time.

    • daron says:

      I confess I really never thought about the meaning of the lyrics before. I’ve been singing that song for so long the words don’t really have meaning… but yeah “love isn’t always on time.”

      • s says:

        I agree. It’s one of those songs that the words just tumble out when I hear it. I remember laughing when I read that chapter and thinking about it but not at the same time. This time I really listened to it.

        “It’s not in the words that you told me
        It’s not in the way you say you’re mine, ooh
        It’s not in the way that you came back to me
        It’s not in the way that your love set me free
        It’s not in the way you look or the things that you say that you’ll do”
        When I heard that yesterday I thought, “Shit. That’s Daron and Ziggy.”

  • cay says:

    Sounds like you had fun at the radio station.

  • B Cynic says:

    something’s going on with Carynne and I guess Daron’s not wanting to out himself but what’s best for him, hiding it or not? Hard to say.

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