Solomon Burke and the dollar bill

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

I can’t remember how the subject came up – I guess a friend must have posted something on Facebook about having found themselves alone in an elevator with a celebrity and I was reminded of an incident decades ago in L.A when I walked into a lift whose only other occupant was Solomon Burke. The king of rock ‘n’ soul was a smooth operator. He took a bill out of his wallet and wrote his phone number on it and handed it to me. (Well, not that smooth really; it was just a one dollar bill). (Though admittedly a dollar bought you a bit more back when this happened). (But still, definitely a hitch in the smoothness department.) Someone had asked me if I still had the dollar bill and I said yep, it’s somewhere,though to the best of my recollection the name and number had faded over the decades Well this morning, quite by chance, on what would have been Solomon Burke’s 75th birthday, I opened a drawer and there it was, the phone number still just about legible.

Solomon dollar

 

And now I’m going to dim the lights, pour a glass of the good stuff and download an advance of Leonard Cohen’s new album, Can’t Forget.  Good night.

Thinking and drinking

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

My last day in Cartagena, I woke up to a very nice mention in the newspaper describing my performance of Leonard Cohen’s songs as “magisterial”. It was a beautiful morning, already 80 degrees and the air as soft as a kiss. I went sight-seeing, looking for a place some locals told me about where they’d built a statue to Prince Charles and Camilla to commemorate a royal visit and someone pulled it down. The city is walled with ancient fortifications built to keep out the English invaders, so you can’t really blame them.

The night before, I’d been to another after-hours party, this one thrown by the British Embassy. They held it in the Spanish Inquisition building – a beautiful edifice but with a chilling history. There were torture instruments on display in a room downstairs and a guillotine in the garden where waiters glided round with trays of bottomless Pimms.  One of the fellow-Brits I ran into was the Guardian and Observer journalist Ed Vulliamy. I had just seem him onstage on a panel chaired by Rosie Boycott, in which five journalists – including two Latin Americans and two from the US – discussed Charlie Hebdo, the murder of journalists, the right of satire to provoke, and the fear and capitulation of some editors and governments.

Vulliamy, an extremeley brave writer who has spent a great deal of his life on the frontline, reporting on the atrocities of war and terrorism, said something that stayed with me. Laughter, he said – the punishment of laughter, the mockery of power – is the greatest weapon we have against terror of any kind, be it extremist fanatics or governments or anything. “That is the one thing they can’t stand, mockery”, he said. “If there’s no-one there to pull down their pants and moon, what is there left?” Important stuff.

And now I’m back in San Francisco and about to go to another party, of sorts. Last time I agreed to do one of these, I broke my toe. My big toe, which meant having to wear Ugg boots with my little black evening dress, being the only footwear I could get into. It’s an Authors Dinner – a charity event, a bit like a cheaper version of those Democratic Party dinners where you stump up a whole lot of money to sit at the same table as your favourite famous politician and watch them eat. Or talk to them so much they can’t eat and can only drink, which means you might get your money’s worth from watching them fall over drunk. Especially if they only have one working foot. But tonight I am bipedal, and the good cause the money is going to is Berkeley Public Libraries. Libraries are also important stuff. Also, come to think of it, a good idea: Foodstarter! Kickstarter without the kick but with a starter, and maybe a main course too cooked for you by the writer or musician of your choice! .

 

Confessions from Colombia

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

confession box

Here I am, in Cartagena, Colombia, being interviewed for a local TV news show. I’m sitting with Manuela, the  host of the show, in a confession box in the old Santa Clara nunnery.  Tell the truth or get thrown to the fiery flames!

I came here to talk and play at the Hay Festival of the Americas – an incredible lineup of Nobel Prize-winning novelists, award-winning journalists and a handful of musicians in the gorgeous plazas of the old walled city. I came a couple of days early and stayed in a cheap hotel on a busy road where men with microphones stood in shop doorways trying to lure in passers-by, while salsa music blared in the background.  I moved into the expensive boutique hotel the festival had booked for its guests, but I have to confess that I missed the old place!

My first morning I was up early to do a seminar in a state school 45 minutes outside Cartagena for extremely underprivileged kids aged 16 plus. The neighbourhood was run down and very poor, and some of the classrooms were prefabricated pods, while others were being built. But the kids and the staff were amazing. At the end, the music teacher asked if I would sing a song on my ukulele, so I sang Suzanne. None of them had heard of Leonard Cohen but they all seemed to like his “canciones tristes”.

The festival gave me one of the headline slots for my event – an interview onstage, conducted by a Colombian journalist, Jacobo Celnik – so that I could tag on an extra half hour to sing some songs. Brian Eno was on an hour before me in an ornate, colonial theatre. If I weren’t in a confession box I would brag about headlining over Eno!  I rushed from there to my gig at the University, which was sold-out. Walking past the long line to get in, I did my best to look as superstarry as you can if your hair’s been turned into a tumbleweed by the wind and humidity, and half your body’s polka-dotted with huge bites. The evening I arrived in the city I was bitten by two mosquitos and killed them both, and since that moment the mosquitos have been taking revenge!

My gig went great, I’m happy to say. A lovely response. Afterwards, a man came onstage and knelt and kissed my hand (not something that happens on a regular basis!) and another man was crying as he talked about my songs.Yes, that’s me,  misery wherever I go!

Afterwards, a festival aide insisted I see a doctor that she’d called about my bites.  It felt pretty embarrassing, sitting there surrounded by white coats and stethoscopes for bloody mosquito bites, but the anti-histamines and cream they gave me are doing a far better job than the gallon of repellant I’ve been spraying myself with.

More later – I have a party to go to!

New Year’s News

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Hi, Sylvie here. Happy new year! Hope it’s a good one for you.

So far mine’s been a whirlwind – just as it was at the end of 2014, nonstop shows, interviews and radio sessions. In fact just this morning I was being interviewed by a journalist who asked me what it felt like changing sides from writing about music to making music. A good question except that when he asked it, I was busy writing an album review for MOJO! But I did find time to write a new song over the holidays (yep, another sad one) and there’s another song simmering in my head that I can’t wait to get to.

But back to this morning’s interview. I answered that in many ways it had felt surprisingly natural to make an album, once I’d finally plucked up courage to do it. I mean, I’d always played music for myself, as well as listened to and written about it, and I’d seen the inside of enough recording studios for them not to intimidate me too much. The hardest part, I told him, was trying to grow thicker skin in time for what I assumed would be very harsh reviews – because I’d broken the first rule of music journalism, which is that a rock writer should never release a record. The old cliche goes that all rock writers are deep-down failed or frustrated musicians, and maybe there’s some truth to that, even if my “inner rockstar” stayed hidden for quite a few decades.

He asked if it was strange reading reviews of my own album – and it was, it felt surreal. One of the strangest things though was how great they’ve all been, every one of them. What’s also been great is how supportive musicians have been. One of the highlights of last year was when Jim White, whose albums I’ve loved and written about for ages, asked me to sing with him in New York City in November at a benefit for the literary magazine Radio Silence. And in February – when I get back from Cartagena, Colombia, where I’m going to be appearing as both a writer and a singer at the Hay Festival of the Americas! – I’m going to head on the road with another singer-songwrite whose music I’ve admired and reviewed, Jason McNiff.
12 Bar 2
SS @ Jim White pancakes&whisky

Well, one of my resolutions is to try and blog more often – I’m sorry things got so busy that I didn’t get around to writing about all the great stuff that’s been going on since I released my album – trips to Oslo, Helsinki, Dublin, London, Liverpool, Winchester and now back playing in California. I’ve put links to a few videos and radio shows on my website’s Sounds page, along with some of the reviews and interviews. Another resolution is to keep my Tour page updated every few days, whenever a new show or radio session is confirmed, so please check in on that page now and then, as I’d love to see you. And if you’re a Facebookie, feel free to friend me since I post there every day.

And I’ll leave you for now with a piece I wrote on Bob Dylan for Radio Silence

http://www.maintainradiosilence.com/articles/2014/10/28/review-blood-on-the-tracks

From the Secret Alley

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

On a dark street in San Francisco’s Mission District, just a few steps from the fancy restaurants and  bars yet light years away,  a locked, unmarked door leads across a jigsaw-puzzle floor and up  into the Secret Alley. I had never heard of this place until a few days ago when it became the venue for my album launch party.  That wasn’t the original plan – there was talk of doing it in a club in Martinez then that fell through, and so did the second place, an old sailors club down by the bay, But sometimes plans have a way of changing for the better, and nothing could have been more perfect than the Secret Alley. I knew that from the moment I walked past the machine by the entrance that promised to stamp the Lords Prayer on any coin you fed it and into a small,  magical space. A tiny skateboard ramp had been built into one corner, and in the opposite corner a minature marquee, next to a stage. There was also a tree – and a tree-house – and, in the middle of the room,  a wooden swing. And all of this indoors, upstairs, in a room that held maybe 45 or 50 if they didn’t mind sitting up close.

My band that night was Josh Pollock on guitars and a suitcase full of pedals and effects, and Joe Lewis on upright bass and the show was streamed live  on Pressuredrop TV. I’ve been told that the show is going to be edited and archived and they’re going to tell me when it’s up. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile here’s their event page –  http://pressuredrop.tv/portfolio/sylvie-simmons/ – and some photos

Soundchek


secret alley 4

 

secret alley 2

Thoughts on the eve of a new album

Friday, November 7th, 2014

It was two and a quarter years ago, with the first edition of I’m Your Man The Life of Leonard Cohen about to come out, when I had the crazy dream of going on the road with my book and a ukulele, reading, talking about Leonard and singing his songs. Taking my uke, if I’m to be honest,  was as much a security blanket as anything else. Writers, especially writers of lengthy books, tend to spend more time alone, sitting and staring at the wall, than standing  in front of  a roomful people pretending they’re not shy. So, at least at the outset, until I gradually got comfortable with performing, my ukulele was  something to hide behind. It was also good company. During the year or so I travelled the world researching and interviewing people for the book, I took the uke with me everywhere, from a seedy rental apartment in Montreal to a hut in the monastery on Mt Baldy. Ukes tend to make you friends – a bit like a puppy, but with nothing to clean up!  The tour – well some of you reading this might have come to one of the shows, either  in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, New Zealand or Australia during 2012-2014.

Today I was deleting a bunch of old files from my computer to try and speed it up, and and I came across this one: a video. A friend had suggested that if I was going to tour, I ought to post a Youtube video. I’d never made  one before so I called my friend Christian, an indie record producer, and asked if he knew someone who could shoot it. One of his artists, Annie Girl, had made an album which featured classical musicians as well as her rock band the Flight; I’d loved that album and had made it my Americana album of the month in MOJO. I asked Christian if he could hire the violin player for my video and I said I’d like to shoot at night, maybe two or three Leonard Cohen songs, me and the violin player in my bedroom. I would call the video  Songs from a Bedroom in tribute to Leonard’s second album.

A few days later he turned up mid-afternoon, on the hottest day of the year, with a video maker and a violin player  – the great Matthew Szemela. But he’d also brought with him a viola player, the brilliant Charith Premawardhana, and a shy young woman with an acoustic guitar who it turned out was Annie Girl. It was the first time I’d met any of them. I swiftly printed off two more chord sheets and we piled into my bedroom, closed the black-out curtain and lit candles to make an artificial night.

Annie sat beside me on the bed, Matthew and Charith sat on the floor, all of us sweating pints from the heat. The next door neighbours had thrown open their windows to let in the sun and were playing Mexican music at full-blast, the bass rattling the candlesticks on my bedside table. I love mariachi, but not so much when trying to record a Leonard Cohen song. So Christian, being fluent in Spanish, went next door to try and quieten things down. Apparently he offered them $50 to turn the music off for an hour. (Memo to self: I.O. Christian 50 bucks.)

And this was the first song we recorded: Famous Blue Raincoat. Just one take. Charith’s viola-playing still gives me goosebumps. As to Matthew’s violin – unbelievable! You might notice in the footage tha his violin solo made me cry; I had to lean my head back and try to get the tears to run back inside my head again before coming back in for the final verse.

Annie, who had never heard of Leonard Cohen before that day, went on to love his songs and play many of them with me on the S.F Bay Area leg of the tour.  We often sit around the apartment and jam- her songs as well as mine. I love her songs. She’s playing electric guitar this days and doing a gig at  the Chapel in San Francisco tomorrow ( Saturday) night;  you should check her out.

Anyway here it is, Leonard Cohen’s mother Masha’s favourite song and mine, my first-ever video, which led to a book tour, which in turn  led to me plucking up the courage to go into a studio and record my own songs and release my debut album on Light In The Attic Records, Sylvie.

Maybe it’s the time of man

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Happy birthday Woodstock. I was a kid in London when you were busy being stardust and golden. I’d never been to America – never been anywhere farther than Boulogne on the ferry – but as soon as I got home from school and out of my uniform, I’d float around in a kaftan and wish I was a hippie.

Here’s a conversation I had with Neil Young about it a while back.

 

Sylvie: Would you have gone to Woodstock as a punter if you hadn’t actually been playing?

Neil: No, never, no.

Sylvie: What do you remember about it?

Neil: It was like a migration – I don’t know what to compare it to. We thought it was the first time we’d seen the group of people that we kind of knew, that we met around the country – the heads, the hippies, whatever – the first time that we’d seen them all come into one area and you could feel the strength of the numbers. But corporate America was watching too. And it was a lot of confused travelling, nervous people, a lot of different people going back and forth and kind of on-the-spot plans being made.

Sylvie: And your set?

Neil: We were nervous- it was like our second show or something – and I was especially nervous because I didn’t know the rhythm section that well and we really didn’t have that much of a groove.

Sylvie: Is that why you didn’t want to be filmed?

Neil: I didn’t allow myself to be filmed because I didn’t want them on the stage. Because we were playing music – get away, don’t be in my way, I don’t want to see your cameras. I don’t want to see you. To me it was a distraction from making music, and music is something you listen to, not that you look at. So you’re there, trying to get lost in the music, and there’s this dickhead with a camera in your face. So the only way to make sure that wouldn’t happen is to tell them I wouldn’t be in the film so avoid me, stay away from my area. And that worked.

Sylvie: A bit rum coming from someone who’s just made a concert movie!

Neil: All the shooting that we did [for that], you don’t see cameras around, there’s nobody in front of us, and if they are it’s not for long.

Sylvie: You the only one in Crosby Stills Nash & Young who didn’t want to be filmed.

Neil: I was the only person in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that was, you know, not Crosby Stills and Nash!

Sylvie: Didn’t you and Jimi Hendrix steal a pickup truck backstage and go joyriding?

Neil: You know, to tell you truth it’s been so long since it happened…

Sylvie: Hah! It wasn’t me, Officer’

Neil: [Laughs] It probably was me. I seem to remember a pick-up truck somewhere and Hendrix being nearby and something happening. Hendrix is the best, nobody can touch him. I’m a hack compared to him, a hack. That guy — it slipped off his hands, he couldn’t help himself. I’ve got to go in there and hack away with a machete to get through what he just walked through. I can aspired to be able to play that way and to approach it sometimes, so I’d get half way there sometimes; but when it comes to really playing, I mean, I’ve got a lot of emotion and very little technical ability. Jimi had them both. He was so smooth and so great and so special.

Meanwhile, here’s a band that didn’t ask to be left out of the Woodstock movie, but they were.

 

The silence between two thoughts

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

“Do you want to know what the ambition of our generation is, Wanda? We all want to be Chinese mystics living in thatched huts, but getting laid frequently.” – Leonard Cohen, The Favourite Game, 1963.

11a LC & Roshi copy

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Leonard Cohen’s Zen teacher and close friend, died Sunday 27th July in Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles at the age of 107. I went to the LA Zen Center several times to hear him teach – it was a few years ago when he was a mere 103 or so; I’d gone in the hope of talking to him for my book I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. When I spoke to Leonard shortly afterwards, I had to admit that, impressed though I was that the old man was still teaching, I couldn’t make sense of anything he said. Leonard laughed and said no-one could. “He doesn’t give you any astounding truths that we come to expect from spiritual teachers, because he’s a mechanic, he’s not talking about the philosophy of locomotion, he’s talking about repairing the motor. He’s mostly talking to the broken motor.”

Since posting that on my Facebook page two days ago, I’ve been contacted privately by a musician friend whose broken motor Roshi helped fix. And I’ve also been contacted by a major newspaper wanting to talk about the late guru’s sex life. What did Leonard Cohen have to say about it, they asked me, and I could honestly answer: “Nothing.” The last interview I did with Leonard for my book was more than a year before the New York Times broke the story alleging that Roshi had been sexually abusing female students at the monasteries for decades. http://tinyurl.com/bg2rfd7. But, whatever Leonard might have thought about this in private, it’s hard imagining him having anything to say publicly on a man he loved. His 45-year relationship with Roshi was one of the most durable and devoted of Leonard’s life.

They met in 1969 at Leonard’s friend’s Buddhist wedding – same year that Leonard met Suzanne Elrod, the future mother of his children, at a Scientology class. It seems ironic when not long before Leonard had told his friend that he was suspicious of holy men. He said he knew how they did it: their schtick, the showmanship, how they managed to draw people to them, because to a degree he could do it himself. One question I wish I’d thought to ask Leonard was when and how the cynicism in that line at the start of the blog that he gave to his alter-ego Breavman in The Favourite Game began to change.

I did try to interview Roshi for I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. I had spoken to two of Leonard’s rabbis and I wanted to talk to his Zen teacher for his insights into the man he made a monk. I went to the Mount Baldy monastery and stayed in a hut on the hill – but Roshi was away, teaching at another of his monasteries. Towards the end of writing the book I attended a series of talks Roshi gave at the Zen Center in L.A. – he looked so frail it seemed like a possibility that he wouldn’t make it through the teisho. Afterwards one of the head monks told me that Roshi did not give interviews, but he offered to pass on a letter. So I sent one with a list of questions. There was a great deal I wanted to know, like why he decided Leonard ought to be ordained (it was idea, not Leonard’s) and what the significance was of renaming him Jikan, meaning “Ordinary Silence: was it more than just a Buddhist joke? Or what it was like when the two of them were on the road together or in the monastery, the intimacy and the distance of such a relationship as this. Or his reaction when, after five and a half years Leonard told him he was leaving. Or what they talked about when Leonard came back to visit after spending months in India with a new guru, Ramesh; did they compare and contrast the different teachings? I was advised to narrow it down to one question. So I settled on the “more sad” question [see below]. Sadly he didn’t answer.

Leonard answered some of them though, in various interviews. And since I promised on Facebook that I would find a few more things that Leonard said about Roshi, here they are.

 

SS: Roshi gave you a new name?

LC: Roshi has given me a few names. When I was ordained as a zen monk, Roshi gave me the name Jikan.

SS: Is that the one that’s been variously translated as Silent One and Solitary Cliff?

LC: No, the other one was ‘Solitary Cliff’. But you know, Roshi doesn’t speak English very well so you don’t really know what he means by the names he gives you and he prefers it that way because he doesn’t want people to indulge themselves in the poetic quality of these traditional monks’ names.

SS: That’s cruel – I’d want to throw myself into the deep end of their poetic qualities.

LC: Yes, that’s the trouble. I have asked him what Jikan meant many times, at the appropriate moment over a drink, and he says ‘Normal silence’ or ‘Ordinary Silence’ or ‘The silence between two thoughts’.

SS: Dangerously poetic.

LC: Yes.

SS: So you became Ordinary Silence after Solitary Cliff?)

LC: I was Solitary Cliff for a while. You can just call me Cliff!

 

SS: You’ve quoted Roshi as saying “The older we get, the lonelier we become and the deeper the love we need”. Is he referring to impersonal, benign love or person-to-person love?

LC: I think that he was referring to the personal love.

SS: What are your feelings right now on personal love. Is that still an important aspect of your life or has that changed?

LC: It’s the most important. I don’t know if it ever changes. I think one becomes more circumspect as one gets older about everything – I mean you become more foolish and more wise at the same time as you get older. But I don’t think anyone masters the heart. No-one gets a handle on it. And Roshi’s often described himself as an old, love-sick monk.

…….

SS : Did you discuss the teachings of Ramesh with Roshi when you returned from India?

LC: No, no. Roshi doesn’t discuss. He doesn’t discuss his own teaching. Roshi is direct transmission. It’s the owner’s manual. He’s not interested in perspective or talking. You either get it or you don’t. His teisho, the things you listen to, the best way to absorb them is from the point of view of the meditater – he’s really talking on the in breath and the out breath through the whole teisho. He’s speaking to the meditative condition, so if you hear him from the outside it’s kind of gibberish and it’s kind of repetitive and it’s very hard to penetrate. He doesn’t give you any astounding truths that we come to expect from spiritual teachers, because he’s a mechanic, he’s not talking about the philosophy of locomotion, he’s talking about repairing the motor. He’s mostly talking to the broken motor.

SS: Now you mention it, I remember that repetition, that sense of rambling. I blamed it on me zoning out or him being a very, very old man.

LC: But if you’re sitting in the right position and you’re breathing, then it’s like you’re in a hole and he’s saying: ‘Here’s a little indentation; put your right foot there, and you’ll see that little twig, and pull up there, and try to put your foot in that other little spot where the rock is sticking out, now take the left hand and put it up there.’ That’s what he’s saying.

———

LC: I don’t know if I told you this story. I was in the recording studio with Roshi. We’d been travelling to Trappist monasteries – at that time there was a rapprochement between Catholicism and Zen under the tutelage of Thomas Merton, who was a Trappist monk who wrote beautiful books – and I would go with Roshi and he would lead these weeks of meditation at various monasteries. We happened to be in New York at the time and I was recording parts of Various Positions and Roshi came to the studio – he was already an old man at the time We were drinking this Chinese liqueur called ng ka pay and he was nodding off most of the time and I was doing vocals.

SS: What did Roshi think of the recording?

LC: The next morning when we were having breakfast I asked him what he thought – this was the time when people were saying they should give away razor blades with Leonard Cohen albums because it’s ‘music to slit your wrists by’ and that I was ‘depressing a generation’. And he said, ‘More sad’.

And that was it.  Roshi didn’t tell him what he meant by “more sad”, Leonard said, and Leonard didn’t ask. When I said I guess I would have to ask Roshi, he smiled and wished me luck. As to whether he did as his teacher instructed, Leonard said, “Not ‘more sad’, but I thought, ‘you’ve got to go deeper.’ ”

 

 

Leader of the pack

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Me and Pete bike

 

Motorcycles ran in my family. My dad didn’t have a car, he drove a motorbike and sidecar – mum riding pillion, kids in the sidecar, heads poked out of the soft plastic window, which was too scratched to see through, getting high as kites inhaling car exhaust fumes (unless we were too busy beating each other up). This must have been my big brother’s bike. That’s my little brother in the picture and me at age 13 . He got a motorcycle at some point too, and so did I though I didn’t keep it long. I had a habit of falling off of it, so I figured four wheels might be safer. Our dad, though, drove like a wildman. At some point in his life, before he had us, he was a Wall of Death rider. I don’t think there was anything my father couldn’t do. He was a flea-weight boxer, he whistled the blues, he made jewelry out of nothing and he made homemade wine out of anything, all of it near as dammit lethal. (I remember him encouraging me to go out with a science student so he could get equipment from him to make a still!) The first songs I can ever remember hearing were songs my father sang me:  St Louis Blues and Brother Can You Spare A Dime. These were my lullabies. So it’s no surprise that I’ve always had a thing for slow, dark, melancholy songs.

Prisoner in Disguise

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

I just noticed that today is Linda Ronstadt’s birthday. Hope it’s a happy one.

I spent an afternoon with her a few months back and really enjoyed her company. She’s a very warm woman, forthright and self-deprecating – much happier talking up others than herself, although it’s plain she’s not the kind who’ll stand for nonsense, and certainly not from any man. Sixty-eight years old, and what a life! You’ll have to find a June edition of MOJO for the full story. But here’s something I didn’t have room for in the article that made me smile; it made Linda laugh out loud as she told it. 

il_570xN.145242948
“The thing about being ‘a star’… well it was weird. It took away my anonymity and I remember distinctly feeling that was a drag. But I wasn’t really that social and I wasn’t into parties and stuff that much. What we mostly did as musicians was hang out in each other’s living rooms or hotel rooms and play one song after another – all the old Everly Brothers and Merle Haggard songs, all the great songs that held up on only guitar.
“Anyway, JD Souther called me the other day and said he’d found a note I had written him.

“We had been staying at the Plaza and we’d been up all night playing music and I’d gone up to my room at some point and I slipped this note under his door saying, ‘Dear JD, you have my purse, my shoes and my guitar – which is a distinct disadvantage – so how can I get them back?’ I must have been in the same hotel or I wouldn’t have left my shoes, my purse or my guitar. And I remembered: that night we were in the hotel room playing and singing Prisoner In Disguise and Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd were there and we were REALLY into it, singing the whole dramatic, loud ‘You must be a prisoner!’ We were stoned too, we’d smoked some pot and done a couple of lines of blow.

“And all of a sudden the door just explodes into our suite – there was a connecting room to our suite that wasn’t ours – and it was some man who had been trying to sleep and it was three in the morning and we’d woke him up!. His face was purple with rage. That was the first time I’d ever not had people listening and liking it. He HATED it! We were so shocked. We were just siting there with our mouths open. It was so funny. I don’t think he had any idea who we were. We weren’t ‘stars’, we were just these noisy people.”