Sunday, 9 May 2010


OK, so here goes, some random recollections from a life misspent in rock n roll...


If I'd had another gig, I wouldn't have been anywhere near Berlin that day. I was in my Dormobile, a couple of miles out up country, deciding where to go next. Then I picked up enough on the radio to work out that something was going on, so we rattled into the city.

That first day was crazy. Riot police everywhere, crowds scattering like starlings. And then they started to tear the wall down, piece by piece. It was tense, and you didn't know which way it would go, but at the same time your throat choked up and you knew you were seeing something, you were a part of something, the noise and the rubble and the dust pummelling up in clouds from where the guys were tearing down the Iron Curtain, piece by piece.

I didn't know what to do but the next day, so I followed the crowds to Alexanderplatz with my guitar. The place was too full: a solid mass of people, like a single body, breathing out and in. I found a side street that the Wall crossed where there were only a few people at first and I climbed up on its jagged teeth, a crooked grin by then, and parked my bony Scots ass on a piece of history.

And I began to sing. I dare say the video's on YouTube or NewTube or whatever now. But that won't take you there.

I sang a Dylan song first. Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall. More folk started to gather. Some rude boys near the front knew enough English to shout: 'Show us your tits!'

I stuck my tongue out at them and everyone else laughed. Another boy tried to shout something else, and the crowd shushed him as I punched out some chords. Another Dylan song: Times They Are A'Changin'.

That got a big cheer, and there I was, the crowd drifting in my direction. Some of them knew me, shouted my name. I saw a news crew struggling to get past, to set up, and switched to my own songs. I sang Death in Veniceand In the Canyon, hammering them out with my battered old Gibson, no amplifier, just the bits of Wall digging into my ass and me realising all of a sudden how high up I was.

'Sing some more Dylan!' the news guy said, so I half obliged. I sang Chimes of Freedom, the one with the line I loved about lonesome hearted lovers with too personal a tale.

Then back to my own songs, the old stuff, like All About Me, though I stopped short of doing that bloody clown song.

It was a West German film crew: the piece started on a local news programme, then got picked up by CNN. It wasn't as emblematic as the guys pulling the Wall down the day before, but still a nice little follow up piece. Sixties singing star serenades the end of Communism, something like that.

Of course, after the crowds had moved on the made me go back up and redo Times They Are A'Changin',just for the sound quality.

Yeah, right.