Tour’s over Ma, I’m Coming Home

The west coast is painted grey from two weeks of rain. Even San Jose labors under the drizzle; on April 5, the white peaks of Mt. Hamilton boast 4 inches of heavy spring snow. Now I’m back in Seattle, back where the rain belongs, back beneath the 60-foot convex glass facade I photographed with my cell phone one year ago, almost to the day. Laura and Matt weren’t even engaged then. The tour is over, and I’m flying home to New York. Now, as then, I worry about money. Where does it come from? Where does it go?

Down rental car seats, and sleeping sofas it falls through.

It’s the fifth of the month, and my rent’s overdue.

I worry about girls.

Why worry about her? She’s never been anything but trouble for you. You don’t even like her.

I spent the better part of the tour with the Child Ballad “Annachie Gordon” in my head:

With Annachie Gordon I’ll beg for my bread

before I marry Saltoun, with gold to my head

with gold to my head, and gowns fringed to the knee

I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie

I’ve been using this time-tested melody to learn more about the C-modal guitar tuning (CGCGCD). I like it because the medium-guage strings I use on my acoustic get all touch-sensitve and flappy, and they feel good and snappy beneath my fingers. Flatpicking remains a problem, but my touch is improving daily. Could this be my new thing? I take the American old-time tune “Farewell Trion” to task, and learn to play the melody in both a pure, fiddle-based single-note-with-drone melodic style and a ragpicker’s, alternate bass pick-and-fingers style. I learn the melody up and down the neck. This is really going to be great when I master it. Too bad I have to retune to C-modal just to play it.

“Guitar nerds are really gonna be into what you’re working on!” Laura complimented, sincerely.

“Well, great,” I thought, since that’s pretty much my target audience. I wonder if the guitar nerds are going to lose their shit for these stray lines in my notebook:

Until you came I knew no trouble

The songbird speaks for the devil

Just a chorus girl that fell from bliss

The devil takes the table

One ear hears the call of nature

One ear hears the echo of yesterday’s kiss

I swear, it’s better with the melody.

I’m sorry, can I have your address so next time this happens I can mail you an apology card?

I must have been drinking when I wrote that. Good luck fitting that into a rhyme scheme.

In order to be friends with you I’d have to desexualize you.

Remember that one. That could come in handy someday.

I stop brooding long enough to move my seat away from the televisions in the airport waiting area. They’re blaring CNN’s report of the mine explosion in Raleigh County, WV. When the interviewer asks a teenage boy whose Dad has been missing since the explosion, “How does it make you feel,” I get choked up and tears come out of my eyes. If something happened to my Dad right now that would be the worst thing that ever happened to anybody on earth. Sure, it puts things into perspective when something terrible happens to other people. Sure it does. But perspective doesn’t make you feel better about anything. It just moves you to a different seat, maybe away from the TV’s or closer to distractions that make you forget, like the smell of hot buttery popcorn, or next to a pretty girl, a sexy-librarian looking one, sitting by herself with an expensive bag and nobody to get up and buy her a bottle of water, or watch her stuff if she goes to the bathroom.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, and I often have trouble making small talk with people I don’t know. I promised a friend I’d have this Six Wives of Henry VIII done by the time I got home, and I’m only halfway through Anne of Cleaves.

-JH 4/5/10

1 thought on “Tour’s over Ma, I’m Coming Home”

  1. In the spirit of self-promotion and shameless name-dropping, I should probably mention a few highlights of last month’s tour with Laura Cortese. Our April-Fools’ show at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley was a great success. We opened for David Lindley and sold out of our new CD, “Two Amps, One Microphone.” David is a great artist, and it was an inspiration to see him perform. Bonnie Raitt must think so too, because she was in the audience. Her hair is still beautiful. Umm… what else… At the start of the tour we opened for Kate Rusby, who was extremely funny and remembered my name at the end of her set, which is more than can be said about the concert promoter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top