Monday, 26 December 2011


You know, people often think artists only hang out with other artists. All those celebrity pictures they shoot these days: so and so on the arm of such and such, or the guitar player and the drummer smashing up a hotel room together.

In my experience, though, it’s often others you meet while you’re doing the rounds you get really friendly with. Take Katerin, for example. She was my European tour manager, back in, what, ‘73? They’ve always liked me there, right from the get go. It was a great tour, the German gigs especially.

Then, six years later, she probably saved my life.

London, 1979. I was down on my luck big style by then. Singer-songwriters were out of favour, and I had washed up in some awful squat in Hackney, blowing any royalties I had on whatever I could lay my hands on. Heroin, mainly.

I heard the door go, that morning, and one of the commune, Terry I think, mumble directions to my room. I didn’t have the energy to raise myself out of my bed. Terry wouldn’t have cared who it was.

“Hey, look at you,” I said when she appeared at my door. She was a real stunner, then, with this great mane of red hair in a plait half way down her back. She still is striking, even if there’s a bit of pepper and salt in the mix these days. Those cheekbones!

“Venus,” she said quietly. “How good it is to see you.” Hardly a trace of a German accent in her English. I could see what she was thinking, as she took in the room. The squat was just disgusting: even the cockroaches moved on to somewhere better as soon as they could.

“The record company gave me your address,” she said. “They keep an eye on you, you know.”

“Yeah, they want to protect their investment of nothing at all,” I said. That was unfair. I hadn’t recorded a single thing for them yet, and they were running their whole operation on a shoestring out of a half-derelict warehouse in Shoreditch. I wasn’t exactly on trend.

As if to prove the point, someone put the Sex Pistols on next door. Katerin wrinkled her nose.

“Well, they seemed like good guys,” she said. “Anyway, have you eaten yet?”
I hadn’t eaten for at least a day, so I let her take me to the nearest cafe that served vegetarian food. I must have looked like a ghost to her, while she just looked magnificent, in her combats and black beret. I used to tease her she was Baader-Meinhof, but I don’t know I was that far off.

“I would not use violence like they do,” she’d say.

I remember the sunlight flooding through the grubby window of the cafe, lighting up Katerin’s hair as she lit another cigarette. Around us, posters for CND marches competed with ones for gigs by bands I’d never heard of. Two-tone, reggae, styles a million miles from the music I’d grown up with.

“I need to listen to more music,” I muttered, to myself mostly. The corners of Katerin’s mouth went up a little. “I don’t see you doing a ska version of Wide-Finned Chevrolet,” she said.

Right at that moment, I didn’t see myself recording anything. I was still withdrawing from the night before: not the spectacular symptoms you read about now, they never happened to me, but still. I’d felt better.

“Finish your breakfast,” Katerin told me. “I’ve one or two things to do, then I will come back for you.”

When she reappeared in late afternoon, I was past the worst pains and was staring out the window of my room, thinking, I’d be better off in hospital. Or jail. The meals would be more regular. Terry’s punk band, Snarl If You Wanna Go Faster, was rehearsing downstairs, so there wasn’t even any point in picking up my acoustic.

“I let myself in,” Katerin said. Her mouth was twitching upwards again as she indicated the wall of sound coming from downstairs. “These guys aren’t so bad. Maybe they could be support for your next tour.”

I went to reply, something sarcastic probably, but she went on too quickly. “Anyway. So I’ve changed my ticket and we both have reservations for the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt tonight. We need to hurry.”

And that was it. Simple as that. Apart from my Gibson, and a few bits and pieces, there wasn’t much to pack. I left Terry and the others my dirty laundry, and went with Katerin to her flat near Munich where, over the next few weeks, she got me clean.

Again, no histrionics. Nothing came out of the walls at me. I slept a lot, I seem to remember, and went for long walks in the hills above the village she stayed in then. At night, we’d allow ourselves a cognac and a joint. Well, everything’s relative, right?

And then I didn’t see her again for another thirteen years, by which time she’d married, had kids, and beaten breast cancer. I don’t know why I didn’t – well, that’s not true, I do know why. After I got clean of hard drugs, I went back to London and recorded the tracks that became Crossed Wires at the Crossroads for the guys in Sea Holly Records.

I was staying with Katerin’s cousin, who’d married a stockbroker and moved to Surbiton. So every morning I got the train in, just like any commuter on their way to the office. Except my office was the warehouse in Shoreditch, with a bunch of musicians I’d never met before.

When the record came out, I went off to Eastern Europe to promote it. Then my agent in L.A. called, I went to do some gigs there, and fell off the wagon again. I’d said to Katerin I’d be back before winter to tour Germany, and she was fixing up dates for me when I left for the States.

I never made it back before winter, of course. Didn’t make it back to Germany until the Berlin Wall came down, and even then I was too embarrassed to look her up. Took until 1992 to get totally clean again, and by then she’d moved to Bavaria. Took some time, that summer, tracking her down. Improved my German no end.

Junk logic, that’s what I call it. When you’re dependent, you make decisions which are really about how easily you can get your hands on the stuff. I should never have gone back to L.A. Who knows what might have happened if I’d have really pushed that record. Sea Holly might still be in business, for one thing. They were good guys: Katerin was right about that.

I stay in touch with her now. When you get older, you tend to work a few things out. If life doesn’t kill you first.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

She Sees Round Corners

Man, how I hated that waitressing job. It was in a coffee shop on Mulholland Drive. I mean, looking back now, it doesn't seem so bad, but that doesn't matter, does it? Not when you're there, when you're in the moment.
So, sure, I can laugh at my younger self now, whining to my new-found mentor, Josie.
“Why is it the richest guys give the meanest tips and are most likely to hit on you?” I'd say to her.
“At least they still hit on you, honey,” Josie would say, and laugh that big, wheezy laugh. She didn't own the coffee shop, but she might as well have. The real owner gave her the run of the place.
“Look and learn, listen and learn,” she'd tell me. She was about fifty, a big woman who made the best pancakes I've ever tasted, but it was the way that she picked up things about the customers that fascinated me.
"Those two are having an affair," she told me one day, after a couple left the cafe. "Pure and simple. Both got out of the same car, but two sets of car keys on the table. Why would you bring your own car keys when your husband's drivin' you?"
Sure enough, a few minutes later, the woman drove past in a different car. Josie looked at me sidelong with those eyes of hers. "Dangerous waters, Venus, dangerous waters."
There was no triumph in her voice, just a kind of sadness. Later, she told me about her own times in those waters, and I understood. Two messy divorces, and a whole lot of heartache. You could have written a whole album of songs just about her love life.
I don't know why I gave the coffee shop my stage name when I applied for the job. I guess it was a point of pride, a gesture that meant if I kept using it I'd soon be up and out of this crappy job that was such a cliché, waiting tables in L.A., waiting for the big break.
I mean, didn't they know about So Said The Clown? I hated that song, almost as soon as it became a hit. Every so often it would come on the radio in the coffee shop, and I'd feel myself go tense, maybe drop something. And I'd feel Josie's big brown eyes on me, knowing more than she needed to.
I learnt a lot from Josie, but not very much of it was to do with waitressing. I got flustered if I had more than one customer to deal with at once. I spilt milk over Paul Newman once, and you could have heard a pin drop. And then he laughed, and said it was time he changed that shirt anyway, and fixed me with those baby blues until my knees went weak. He was a perfect gentleman, unlike quite a few I could mention.
Luckily for me the coffee shop wasn't that busy that often. I used to bring my guitar in and sing a song or two to Josie when the shop was empty, or it was just one or two of our regulars.
“Who wrote that one?” Josie would say, then act surprised when I said it was one of my own. “Get away,” she'd say. “It was kinda good, too.”
One day, I came in and sang her one of the songs that ended up on the first album. It was called She Sees Round Corners.
“You know,” she said quietly, when the regulars stopped clapping, “that's the first song I've heard you sing that's not about you.”
She was right, of course. And it wasn't her way to say she knew who it was about.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Stan the Man

Stan the man. I haven't thought of him in a long time. He was Lickety Split's drummer, and also their fixer, a bit older than the rest of them, the guy that held it all together on and off stage. If there had been mobile phones in those days, he'd always have been on one. As it was, he was always in phone boxes, arranging the next gig.
Phone Box Stan, the others called him. No wonder he fell out with the new management regime of bloodsuckers that moved in after the hit single. He was an unpaid manager before then, really. There was some bloke called Billy G, but he was just always pissed.
Anyway. There he was, on my doorstep in L.A., looking off back down the track when I opened the door.
"Hello, Linda. You got my letter, aye?"
"Sure, of course I did," I said. I was still half-asleep. We often slept till noon in those days.
I showed Stan into the living room, where the remains of last night's party were scattered around. Empty bottles, the ends of roaches, and a half-dressed girl called Marianne whom I'd never met before last night. She rubbed her eyes, and looked past Stan to me. "Hey, Venus."
Stan raised an eyebrow at the cannabis residues. "You're all grown up, Linda. "
Marianne was lighting up her first cigarette of the day, that passive hit of sharp smoke making my own cravings stir themselves. She pushed her golden mane of hair out of her eyes, squinting in the light.
"People call her Venus around here. She's gonna be a huge star. You heard her songs?"
Stan looked slightly foxed. Looking back, I guess he must have been totally jet lagged, but that didn't occur to me then. "You doing your own songs now?"
"Yeah," I said. "Grown up ones."
Days passed. Maybe just a day. Memory's hazy about that period. Next thing I can remember clearly is walking along Lookout Mountain Avenue with Sumner. Stan was ahead of us, joking with Marianne, who had never remembered to leave.
Neither of them knew where Carole King lived. But I did.
It was early evening. The roadside bushes were alive with crickets, sawing away at those violin legs of theirs. A motorbike sailed past, adding a smell of two-stroke to the scent of vegetation starting to exhale.
Carole met us at the door herself. "Come in," she said, smiling. "Find a place on the floor, if you can."
You know the picture on the front cover of Tapestry, with Carole King barefoot and a cat in the foreground? Well, it wasn't an official launch party for that album, but it was that time, that Laurel Canyon house, that cat rubbing himself in and out of all the partygoers as Carole took her turn at the piano.
"Oh, that Carole," Stan whispered to me, as she sang Will You Love Me Tomorrow.
You know how she sings that song on the album, right? Slow, her voice a little raw to catch the edge of the emotion? Now imagine that in a little house in Laurel Canyon, and you're sat on the floor with twenty or thirty other people, and she's singing it like she wrote it that morning, instead of in another lifetime. I don't think Joni Mitchell was there that night to sing backing vocals like on the record, but Sweet Baby James, James Taylor, was, with his guitar.
"Yes," I said. "That Carole."

That Bloody Clown Song

People ask me why I never sing So Said the Clown. "It's your biggest hit," they'll say. "It's so catchy!"
Yeah, well so are various things I don't want to catch again. So, once and for all: it's not my song, it was a long time ago, and I've forgotten the words. Entiendes?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Spain, First Time

The thing with Gerry was, he was a property guy. Started off investing in some land on the Costa; when that went well, he took a stake in one of the golf course developments; then a small-scale timeshare, then a bigger one, and then another, moving along the coast, away from the Sixties high rises, inland from Fuengirola or Benalmadena.

He helped build the rookeries of retired Brits, salting away their money in the Spanish sun for the grandchildren, or so they thought. This was 1995: long before the property market tanked.

“I only go down to the Costa for business, these days,” he said, when we first met. “Totally overdeveloped, now.”

Apart from having no obvious sense of irony, he seemed a nice guy, and the best looking at that party by a country mile. A big, bluff bloke you really would buy a timeshare from.

“I have to go back there on Tuesday,” he said, looking out at the sleet trying to turn into snow. “You could come out with me, and see what it's like – no obligation, of course.”

The party was in a big flat in the New Town. Inside, the air was heavy with women's perfume and low quality weed. Outside, the rain was beginning to pick up.

“Are you trying to sell me a holiday villa, or yourself?” I said. “Either way, you're a little fast.”

That seemed to amuse him. “You decide, when you've seen the whole package,” he said. “Either way, you get the tour for free.”
I told him I was an old fashioned girl, but I let him take me home in his hired 4 x 4. "We'll see," was what I left him with that night.

We flew to Malaga after all on the Tuesday, and he installed me in one of his newest, finest, apartments. There was a pool, a mini-mart beside the faux-Moorish arch, and cranes just beyond it, building the next phase. Blue sky and sun loungers at the poolside; dust and grinding cement when you took a left turn. And lots and lots of old people. I mean, I was 45 then, but I was still bringing down the average age a long way.

“They migrate here for the winter,” he said. “Like the starlings.” Ornithology wasn't his strongest suit either; but he was kind, and took his time with me. I was feeling fragile that year: I felt like I needed looked after.

Gerry's own house was up in one of the pueblos blancos, the white villages up in the hills. It had me digging out my old sketch pad and doing some drawings, that place: the tiny lizards splayed like missing jigsaw pieces on the whitewashed walls, the mosaic of clay-tiled roofs, stretching away below the balcony.

By the end of my third week there, I'd moved in. I phoned Farrago Man, back in Edinburgh, and told him to look after the Dormobile.

“How long for?” he said.

“I don't know,” I said. “We'll see.”

It was too soon. Gerry was away a lot, working. Besides, he was the lord of the manor, in the village. Half of the locals worked for him – something he was proud of. He'd even started buying up any of the old properties that came up, to house his workers. "Keep the tourists at bay," he said, his eyes twinkling.

It was different for me, though. If I went down to the local bar and asked to play a few songs, I felt like the boss's wife. And when I was done, some kid of a flamenco guitarist would appear out of the woodwork and start tearing the place up, and the clapping and stamping of feet would start.

It wasn't that the people weren't friendly. It was the language barrier, mainly: I tried to learn Spanish, but the local accent kept confounding me, the way the ends of words would be chopped off, the letter 's' disappearing like it was some special treasure they couldn't share.

So most days I slept late, pottered about, painted a little, played guitar on the verandah. I wrote songs, some of which have stood the test of time.

I didn't write All I Can Think Of Is You until much later, long after I got that letter, and took Gerry's car to Malaga airport.

I did come back to Spain, not long after, but not to the Costa del Sol. Fifteen months I was with him, almost, but I still didn't look back once, gunning the Alfa along that little dirt track running east.

The letter was from Sumner, of course. No idea how he found out where I was. Farrago Man, I suppose: I guess he must have tracked him down first. Come to think of it, maybe Sumner had kept the Polaroid of the shop all these years. Maybe that's what happened to it. I never asked.

So I sat there, reading the letter, while the sun shone off the sea, like the song says. It was fiesta day, one of those celebrations they have in Andalucia where they stage mock battles to commemorate Spain being liberated from the Moors. It's all very Spanish, and they have a big barbecue in the town square. I could smell the meat cooking through the open window.

I don't know how long Gerry and me would've lasted if that letter hadn't come. Another thing I'll never know.

The Chicano Moratorium

The guy looked like a fish out of water. Literally. He was drenched from head to foot. He'd walked up into the Canyons from West Hollywood in the rain.

"You gotta come to this, really," he said. Water dripped off his Zapata moustache onto the rug. "This is gonna be huge. The biggest anti-Vietnam march in L.A., period. Entiendes?"

Sumner looked amused. "Really?"

I said, "Why don't you sit down…Bobby, was it you said?"

So Bobby Guttierez sat down, and leaked rainwater on the battered old sofa while he talked to us about the Chicano Moratorium.

"It's the Mexican-American movement for social justice, man. Social justice here, not war in Vietnam, man. I'm surprised you haven't heard about it."

"Yeah, sure, we have," Sumner said, vaguely. "How about a drink? Linda?"

He meant me. I was still Linda Carmichael then. My first album's release was still a month off, and the protest organiser was here to see Sumner.

Bobby smoothed his trousers down, passing his brown beret through his hands. He smelt of rain, of olive oil, and garlic. He smelt exotic, to me.

"No, gracias," he said. "Got to keep moving. But you'll come, yeah? I love your records, man. It would mean a lot to have you there."

"Count us in," Sumner said, as the guy got up to go. As I showed Bobby to the door, I wondered if he could read Sumner's body language.

"We need you guys to support us, man," he said. I told him I knew and gave him vague directions to Joni Mitchell's place. When I went back through to the living room, Sumner was staring at the damp patch on the sofa.

"I just don't know it's our kind of thing, Linda," he said, as if he knew what I was going to ask. "I mean, I'm against the war, and everything, but these guys…they're just so…"

"Mexican?" I said.

"No, it's not that. You know it's not that."

It was our first argument about politics. Sumner was pretty lazy, politically, but I harped on about how important it was to get involved that he agreed just to shut me up.

That first March we went to, some time in Spring, 1971. There was a cold clear light to the day, bouncing off the helmets and visors of the National Guardsmen. We marched under some sort of banner: I think it said something like 'Artists against the Draft.' Just me holding one end of it, Sumner at the other, and a raggle taggle of session men and hangers on in between.

The year before, not long after Julie and I arrived, there had been what turned out to be the biggest of the Chicano demonstrations, and the cops had opened fire. So we were a jittery bunch, that day, marching beside our Mexican-American brothers, Sumner in his army surplus shirt. This was in East L.A., with the housing projects stretching away up the hill ahead of us.

Then something happened. I don't know what the flashpoint was, but up ahead the tear gas canisters started going off, the Brown Berets in front of us began to tunr and scatter, and the other half of the banner went slack. I turned, and Sumner had disappeared in the wheeling, panicking mob of protesters and cops. I didn't know if he had been hit, or just cut and run.

I ran, like everyone else, of course. Didn't want a National Guardsman breaking my arm with a baton any more than the rest of them. The confusion wasn't helped by the joint I'd had before we came out: I remember shouting Sumner's name, main streets turning into side streets, crowds thinning to ones and twos, the adrenalin gradually ebbing away. Eventually there was just me and a couple of locals, who took pity on me and called their brother in law who ran a taxi firm, making me coffee in their ground floor apartment that smelt of bitter oranges.

I found out later that Sumner had experienced a different kind of hospitality with a Cuban girl called Rosa, who turned up at the house two nights later, looking for him.

That kind of killed the Chicano Moratorium for me, although it petered out by itself later that year, if I remember right. I never saw Bobby Guttierez again. Sumner said he'd heard he was a CIA plant, an agent provocateur trying to discredit the organisation. But then, Sumner said a lot of things.

It was a year or so later that picture came out, the one of the girl in a Vietnamese village after a napalm attack. I reckon that picture, going into millions of homes on the front of a newspaper, did just as much as all the rallies and marches ever did.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, in my case, it was worth three verses, chorus and a bridge.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Waking Up to Dylan

Bob Dylan at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, it must have been 1966. Julie and I were 16, for goodness' sake. We'd made it down from Arbroath, don't know how. I think we told our folks we were staying with Julie's sister in Edinburgh or something, but instead we blew everything we'd been saving for a year, and got the train to Manchester. It was the first time either of us had been away from home.

First half of the concert was the Sermon on the Mount for us. Just Dylan, his guitar, and a concert hall full of his charisma. I remember him playing 'Visions of Johanna,' and it was like nothing we'd ever heard before. The chords looked simple enough, but the lyrics! How on earth could I remember them? In the interval, I tried writing some of them down on the back of my ticket, with a pencil I'd liberated from school. The ticket wasn't big enough, of course...

Backstage, in the interval, he murdered the corduroy-capped hobo. Then a street punk came out of the chrysalis, toting a Telecaster, making the folkies in the audience howl. It was loud, though! First crack of the snare drum like a gunshot, an assassination of Archduke Ferdinand for the hard core fans, people older than us who'd been brought up on English folk music, all that hey nonny nonny stuff. Julie and I didn't know enough to not love electric Dylan, the wall of noise he was making with these leather-clad dudes.

Then came the clapping, the chanting. It was like this enormous static charge, building and building. Most people around us were against the electric stuff. I remember this big Yorkshire guy next to us, bearded, shouting, 'Get shot of the band,' over and over.

Every Dylan fan knows about the 'Judas' moment, when a fan accused him of selling out. But the song that stuck in my mind most wasn't the final 'Like A Rolling Stone,' it was the one before the Judas shout, 'Ballad of a Thin Man.' It was this funereal bluesy stomp, with Dylan up front, snarling about sword-swallowers and one-eyed midgets. Anyone that didn't get his circus show, he was saying, could go straight to hell as far as he was concerned.

Afterwards, on the long walk to the train station, shivering in the May dawn, waiting for the train, it was that chorus that went through my head: 'You know something's happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr Jones?' And later, when I got home to all the recriminations, that song kept me warm long after. Arbroath in the 60s was full of people related to Mr Jones.

Mind you, when I moved to L.A. I found he had family there, too.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Off the Radar

I still have the Dormobile. Thought of trading it in for a Winnebago but I hired one of those things once and they're a sod to drive. Besides, I know how to keep the D on the road now. Fixed it enough times.

Sometimes I just take off, a day turning into a week, pootling around the back roads. Sometimes I'll just pitch up in some place, some bar, and ask to play a few songs. Those can be good nights, although as often as not people can be switched off to me: tuned into their own internal rhythms. Or just plain plugged into their iPod.

Just once in a while, though, if I hit my stride, heads will turn and you'll see them say, that was pretty good. Wonder what she'll do next? And then I'll start to get better. Ask any performer: we feed off the rest of you.

You never know. It might be your town I pitch up in some day, your neighbourhood bar. If it is, come and speak to me. But don't ask me if I know any Natalie Imbruglia.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

L.A. Arrival

Laurel Canyon was the place to be in those days, when I first moved Stateside in 1970. Not that we realised that at first: we were too busy living it. Then some journalist joins the dots and realises for us that, hey, in a few square miles of real estate, you've got Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Jackson Browne, Mama Cass, Joni, Carole King, Frank Zappa, Canned Heat, and hey, who are those country rock boys, what's their name, the Eagles? They're going to be something, aren't they?

Well, not all of them were there at the start, and some of 'em left before the others appeared. And there were lots of other musicians there too, ones that only ever became footnotes in some book somewhere. I should know.

All I did know back then was that there were cheap places to stay up in the Canyons beyond L.A., and it was out of the seething, smoggy city itself, and it was near the Troubador. And anyone who was anyone played at the Troubador. Even I knew that, and I was still living in Arbroath.

So we arrived, me and my friend Julie, at LAX one broiling, dusty, summer's day, took a bus into the city, choked on the fumes, and found another bus that took us to West Hollywood.

Yes, two buses, a suitcase and a guitar each, and no more than two hundred bucks to our name once we'd been fleeced at the bureau de change by a sad-eyed woman who pretended not to understand our accents. No chauffeur driven limo for us: I might have sung in a hit single back home, that bloody clown song, but the management had the money all tied up in some management thing. It wasn't in my pocket, that was all I knew: I'd had to borrow the money for the airline tickets from Stan, Lickety Split's drummer.

Anyway, there Julie and I were, standing at a bus stop on Santa Monica Boulevard with our heads going round like lighthouse beacons taking it all in. We had a map, and a contact in Lookout Mountain Avenue, so we started walking. Even then, the locals looked at us like we were from another planet for walking. Uphill all the way.

Our contact was a guy called Charlie, from Glasgow. He was a session musician: keyboards, mainly. When we called at the address we'd been given, we were told he was at a party three doors down. A party, in the afternoon! We thought that was pretty rock and roll.

When we got there, the party consisted of three guys sitting on the floor smoking joints. We had somehow missed Charlie, so back we went in the late afternoon heat, our cheesecloth blouses sticking to our backs, and our shoes full of grit from the roadside.

Charlie was a wee Glaswegian guy with black hair plastered down over his forehead. When he opened the door he recognised us from passing us ten minutes earlier. "Thought it might be you," he said, grinning, as if two pale skinned girls with suitcases and guitars were a common sight in the Canyons. Come to think of it, probably were.

"Guitarists are ten a penny," he told us, as he made tea (we'd been hoping for something stronger). "So are singers, come to think of it."

"I've been writing some songs," I said.

"Oh aye?" he said, looking me up and down. I noticed his mid-Atlantic accent disappeared after he'd spoken to us for a bit.

When we'd finished our tea, he suggested we all go to bed together. When we knocked him back, he shrugged, said, "Worth asking," and took us two doors up the hill to a neat little three bedroom house, white painted, shuttered against the sun.

"Looking after it for a pal," he said. "He's no' due back from tour for another month."

Inside, the place was like the Marie Celeste: unmade beds, dirty plates and glasses in the kitchen, attracting the flies' attention.

Charlie sniffed. "Probably do with a bit of a tidy up right enough."

As it turned out, the owner never made it back from tour. Died in a hotel room in Pennsylvania. So we ended up staying there for three months, until Julie went home, and I moved in with Sumner and Katy.

We never realised how good we had it. Right in the heart of the Canyons; neat little place nestled in among the trees, up off the road, so that you woke every morning to the scent of pine and oak breathing out after the night, stretching themselves awake in the sun.

Charlie was good to us, though. Made some introductions: even got me some work as a backing singer in the early days. After that first knockback he was the perfect gentleman. Always treated me with respect, which is more than some did.

I think Julie went with him, once, before she went back. I made it my rule never to lay the landlord. Pretty much stuck to it, too. Pretty much.