Yesterday I woke up in a child-sized bed in a tiny little room at the Big Sur Inn. If you want to feel like a character in a fairy tale, this is the place to go. Trees so tall they make you feel like Alice; a chilly fog wheeling and rolling up from the sea below. And this little wooden house – not much bigger than a garden shed but filled with books, a different kind of tool – with a big name: The Henry Miller Memorial Library.
The first time I went there was three years ago, almost exactly. Marianne Faithfull had asked me to come see her perform on the outdoor stage in the library’s grounds. The day before the concert, I’d sent off a proposal for a book I wanted to write on Leonard Cohen – a long proposal, 20 pages, around 15,000 words for the writers among you, a kind of textual GPS read-out on where I thought that the book might go, having no idea at that time of all the different side streets and tunnels and off-road adventures I would be led along in its creation. Driving back from Big Sur, at that point when the roads stop winding quite so wildly and phone reception returned, my mobile began beeping. The messages were offers from publishers for my book.
So it began. And I would have never believed that, three years later, I would be on the Miller library stage, reading my book, and singing Leonard Cohen songs. Big Sur’s not exactly a short drive from San Francisco, but Annie Girl (gtr) and Charith Premawardhana (viola) – she of Annie Girl and the Flight, he of the acclaimed Classical Revolution – drove down, played with me, then drove straight back for a late-night gig in Berkeley. And, as the night grew cold and the moon shone through the fog, Greg Ashley and his band played the ‘Death of a Ladies Man’ album from start to end, to the backdrop of rare film footage of Cohen.
This morning I woke up in L.A. Solid blue sky, blazing sun. Looking out the window I can see a pool with air-mattresses floating about, looking very seductive. So I’m going to sign off and hopefully see some of you at Book Soup tonight, one of my favourite L.A bookstores (my old friend Tosh Berman used to be manager until he left to concentrate on publishing books himself). Hoping tonight to play a couple of songs backed by Rob Laufer – check him out, an amazing singer-songwriter… not to mention ‘George Harrison’ in Cheap Trick’s ‘Sgt Pepper’ shows and at Sir George Martin’s Hollywood Bowl Beatles show.