I stumbled into the cafe in Montreal to get away from the snow. It was up to my shins. I found a corner seat by the bar and ordered a coffee. Looking around my surroundings, I noticed a photo of leonard Cohen. I quizzed the waitress on its significance. She informed me that Lenny used to come in there every single morning. In fact, I was sitting on his favourite seat. She pointed out the window to a modest house across the street. That’s where he lived. But it wasn’t by chance that it was this particular coffee house I stumbled into. I had braved a blizzard and searched for hours to find it, working off a tip from Matt Ward. These are the things we as musicians do on the road to keep from going insane. We seek out sacred places. Bob Dylan’s New York apartment. Nick Drakes home in Tamworth. The New Orleans cemetery from the acid scene in Easy Rider. Blind Blake’s final resting place in Milwaukee. The bar in Hamburg from where a series of photos where taken, one of which Tom Waits adopted for the front cover of his Raindogs album. Or the cafe in Montreal where leonard Cohen used to sit and silently think for hours.
Why go to these places? Is it to try and absorb some of the energy? Or is it simply to beat the monotony of life on the road? Probably a bit of both. But they become the parts of the tour that end up sticking with you. The parts you remember. The gigs all wind up merging into one. Hard to differentiate. I usually remember the towns I was in by the in between bits. Rarely by the gigs themselves.
And now I am to embark on the tour that was supposed to happen before it wasn’t happening, but now it’s happening. Is it kind of happy-ing? Maybe. It has risen from the ashes, back from the dead. Time to dust off the old geet, pack the suitcase and hit the road. I was once a road warrior. I can do it again. Or so I keep telling me. “It’s like riding a bike”, I say. Once I hit the first note it’ll be plain sailing. Muscle memory. Brain memory. I’ll go into that old trance and let it take me wherever it takes me. Let’s see where I wind up. Or what memories I’ll add to the heap. No time to think. Just do.. I’m halfway to 80.