THE GREAT COMEBACK FROM NOWHERE:
We talked on Skype for an hour or more, me in Essex,
him in Spain. He sounded familiar, but more present
than I remembered him when we used to travel together.
The tone in his voice had changed – it made me smile.
He’d become the person we all knew he could have been,
instead of that loveable couch-surfer who left random
hearts & parts of guitars & clothes strewn across
his borrowed addresses at cheap student houses.
Some people have a look in their eyes like they’re
searching for something, but he never did. He had a
look of not ever wanting to find it, like a man putting
off his inevitable, holding onto his Peter Pan.
He was a striking front man, the best in town, a premier
division raconteur. He could hear a song once, pick up a
guitar (borrowed) & play it note perfect. He was
so good he didn’t have to try & that was his cross, to be
so gifted, he could wait & wait & not even have to get
out’ve bed until you broke down the door,
(“Everybody’s waiting in the van man! Get your trousers on!”)
secure in the confidence that he could turn it on in seconds.
“I know what it’s like to watch a band become successful
after you’ve left” he chuckled. A throw-away line that
haunted me. The knowledge that he had, at one time, stood
at the mic that was now mine was the ragged note I found
in my pocket before every show. His face, his intellect,
his razor wit & the shoes that I would never fill.
Last time we were together, we walked along the
seafront at San Sebastian. A blue sky full of gliding gulls,
white wings outstretched, hanging on a clean wind, the taste
of salt in our mouths. Pulling on a cigarette he talked with
enthusiasm about his new band resurrecting a song I’d
written in 1979. I watched him, waiting for a sign that
he’d moved on, that this obsession was for fun, but on he
drove in his excitement for that old wound. Then, just as
we were leaving, perhaps a little tired from the walking,
a small crack opened & I saw a man who had stopped running,
a Happy man who had opened the door & let that thing in
that he’d never been looking for.