That phrase of Ziggy’s rattled around in my head to the point where I had to write it down as a song lyric because it had a kind of bluesy rhythm to it: “Nothing that time won’t fix.” Downbeat on “time” is the three. You hear it? One-and-nothing that TIME won’t fix.
Thing is, I didn’t believe for a second that what he wanted time to fix was just me getting off the road with Nomad and onto the road with him. But I was used to Ziggy saying things that had multiple meanings. I’d come to realize that wasn’t him lying so much as his truth: there’s always more than one thing going on. Sometimes the multiple things going on were all in his head, and sometimes they were futures that wouldn’t all come to pass, and sometimes they were based on possible interpretations of the past that hadn’t yet shaken out.
If I thought like that, I’d go crazy. I’d spend way too much time worrying about whether my personhood was valid in the shifting realities around me.
I tried to concentrate on the validation I got from the reality right in front of me, Ziggy in my arms, sold-out audiences every night, and the respect I’d always wanted from my mentor. Not bad, eh? (Never mind Digger, Mills, lawyers…I’m trying to think positive here.)
We headed back to Great Woods in the early afternoon. Guess who drove? Not me–trying to drive with a cast on my hand was asking for trouble. Courtney. Apparently at some point in the past two years Christian had started trusting her with the van, and since there was a pretty big truckload of us heading back to the venue it made sense to take the van. It was also a Saturday, which might have added to the number of friends and family hanging out backstage. After all, I wasn’t the only one with people in the area.
Remo, of course, wouldn’t have it any other way, even if all the kids and hangers on meant extra work for security. Great Woods had a pretty extensive backstage area, with multiple outbuildings, and main catering was set up in a large tent alongside one of them. That tent was basically like a nonstop family barbecue, not least of which because Sheree turned up with her and Louis’s kids. I think there were three of them… I may be wrong on the number.
I mostly remember Louis showing his daughter–who was about twelve?–how to control the lights before soundcheck. She moved her hands across the control board with fierce purpose on her face. Louis waggled his eyebrows at me behind her back and I came over.
“Diane, do you want to meet Daron?” he asked her.
“Dad, it’s DeeDee. Oh, hi,” she said with a quick glance at me and a stern look at her father. “The sun’s too bright. I can barely see what’s happening.”
“I know, sweetie. Look, if you’re good, I promise to let you help me during the show.”
She crossed her arms with an expression I interpreted as I’m always good. “Okay. What’s this do?” She pointed to another row of controls.
“Nice to meet you, DeeDee,” I said with a bit of a chuckle. “Louis, have you seen Ziggy? I took my eye off him and now I don’t know where he went.”
The girl whipped around to face me, her eyes huge. “Wait. Ziggy’s here? The Ziggy?”
There’s nothing like watching the internal battle of a kid caught between trying to be cool and freaking out with excitement. Her cheeks turned a few different shades of red while she struck a serious pose. She turned on her dad again. “You didn’t say he’d be here.”
Louis shrugged. “Didn’t know he would. Haven’t seen him, Daron. Sorry.”
“That’s all right. I’ll send him over to say hi when I find him.”
I moved on before I could get tempted to/talked into letting DeeDee tag along with me since who knew what form of Ziggy being Ziggy I was going to encounter. For the most part lately, of course, he had been a fairly responsible and mature human being. But there was always the chance, I felt, that I might stumble upon him with the latest version of Ecstasy Girl. Especially since he’d disappeared from sight somewhat suddenly–or at least it had seemed sudden to me. There were a lot of people around to talk to besides each other. I was distracted.
I hadn’t thought about it before, but as rock concerts go, a Nomad show is a relatively family-friendly one. We don’t talk that much so there’s only a little swearing, and there are no half-naked dancers. No half-naked musicians either, come to think of it. No one even smokes onstage (or off–they had all quit long before then). A couple of the songs are raunchy but in a roundabout way. Remo isn’t the type to grab his crotch (or anyone else’s), you know?
Anyway, I thought maybe I’d find Ziggy dishing with Clarice and Fran, but no. Getting into a fight with Jam? No. Talking gear with Colin and Flip? No. Psychoanalyzing me with Carynne and Court? No.
It was time for soundcheck before I found him. I told both Colin and Carynne to be on the lookout for him, but no one was ready to panic yet. Not even me.
“Who’s got today’s lounge act?” I asked, when the band was assembled.
No one moved at first, then a few looked around at each other. Still no one came forward. The horns mumbled about how they were working on a thing but they weren’t ready to show it to the rest of us yet, looking kind of sheepish, like kids who hadn’t done their homework. Gotta love ’em. I had to play along with clucking my tongue like they were letting me down but inside I was clicking my heels: they were practicing for this! So awesome. I couldn’t believe how into my stupid stunt idea people had gotten.
I had been planning for the contingency of what would happen if we ever hit a day where nobody had anything up their sleeve and I had two choices. One was just hit them with a cover of something I knew, which was the easy fallback position, and the other was to force them to jam with me on the spot.
I played a chord quickly, changing from one to another just to get the key in my head, and then I said to Fran: “Sing with me.”
And I didn’t play but kind of listened in my head to the riff I had planned, and I sang the first couple of words that came into my head: “I’ve got time, time. I’ve got time, time.” I put in some hand claps almost flamenco like to keep that vocal riff going and Fran quickly turned it a little bit gospel by adding “Lord” on the offbeat.
“Clarice, sing with me.” I kept the beat by tapping on the body of the guitar and Fran switched to humming while I gave Clarice a variation of the thing that had been in my head all day, but adding a word on the first downbeat, “Ain’t nothing that time won’t fix, ain’t nothing that time won’t fix.”
So then I came in with a chugging guitar riff and they both sang at the same time, like the wheels of a locomotive going around and around. When the groove was well established they started to improvise a little, dropping out and coming back in like their two parts were call and response, and then both singing at the same time again. I took up Fran’s vocal part while she went off on a nice little vocal solo, part blues, part gospel, building up a melody and some sentences that didn’t have to rhyme, they just had to wrap around the concept of the words, which were vague enough that you could probably do a lot with it.
I was cheating a little because this wasn’t a blues progression at all, it was almost all one chord with just one change with a jazzy note which is why it could just go around and around without ever resolving. But that meant the phrase was so short you could keep track of it just by instinct, no counting required.
Fran wrapped her bit up and took a bow to much applause while I kept the groove going. She picked up her part of the refrain again and without even thinking about it too much I took a turn with a vocal solo. It went something like this:
Time, time, time, time
I don’t know what it is
I know I need more of it
When I’m with you
Time, time, time, time
I don’t know how tell it
I only know I want it
When I’m with you
Time, time, time, time
Flies like a rocket
That’s how I know I want it
When I’m with you
With exhortations in between my verses from the band and onlookers to “Sing it!” “That’s right!” and so on. I jumped back into the chorus then and looked at Clarice who waggled her finger no-no-no at me and said “Uh-uh, I ain’t following that!” Which caused me and Fran to crack up and the song to come to a rather hilarious end. I took a bow.
“Did you just make that up on the spot?” Martin demanded, then without waiting for me to say yes went on. “Sheee-it. That’s just unfair.”
“Well, I have been thinking about it all day,” I said, which I guess was more of a brag than I intended. But it was true. If I were going to write a song, it would almost never be so simple and direct. “Walking” was probably the last thing I wrote that was like that. “And, you know, the riffs have probably been rattling around in my head waiting to get out for years.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, and laughed.
“All right, enough fun, time to work,” I said, going to my actual microphone facing the audience instead of the band.
And that’s when I found Ziggy. He was sitting all the way in the last row of amphitheater seats, smack dab in the center. By himself. He was too far away for me to make out his facial expression but he was hunched over, like maybe he was writing and had his notebook on his knees.
I didn’t take my eyes off him the whole soundcheck.
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