Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Italian

I dreamt, or was it real, that there was a violent storm outside. Lightning, thunder, and branches and cows flying past the windows.

Just like I'm not sure that this really happened: we were in an employment agency in rural France, being interviewed by a black-haired young lady in black shorts, tights and high-heeled boots. The place was called Pole Emploi, and we were trying to find out how we could declare ourselves as musicians. She was sifting through sixty years of songs and albums, two artist's lives, and shaking her head because a lot of it happened and continues to happen somewhere else, not in France, not even in Europe. She didn't have any information about what we could do, anyway, but would put us in touch with someone who did, if she could find them. Then she showed me an ad for an orchestra in the Languedoc who were looking for a saxophone player. I told her I'd go home, learn to play the sax, and give them a call tomorrow.

And maybe I dreamt that I found myself wishing we were somewhere else. I was looking at a website about this elite in France, the people who have status as working musicians, and how they have a right to salaries, even for when they're not working - but the government gets to tell you how many hours you have to work a year, and where. But if you adhere to the rules, well you do benefit.

And then I was driving in a car, listening to the new Charlotte Gainsbourg album, thinking how much I wanted to like it because she's got to be one of the most charming people in the whole world, but how she's an actress after all and therefore can only be as good as the people she works with. At first listen it left me cold but "Time Is The Assassin" was starting to work on me - something to do with the strings.

Then, I'm not sure, but I think I was in a nearly full cinema on a Wednesday afternoon and there was a film about Serge Gainsbourg and how he had this weird papier mache-headed alter ego telling him how to be the artist he became, as if he wasn't capable of doing it on his own because everything's set up to reinforce the idea that you should toe the line, and it takes some evil, unruly spirit to help you break free from that, either that or a woman. Because all of a sudden it was women telling him what to do. Like Brigitte Bardot saying, "Serge, I need you to write me a love song, zee best love song in zee whole world!" and you just knew it would be "Je T'Aime" only the projector started shaking, they turned on the lights and said it would be a little while. Which gave me the perfect opportunity to leave.

There was a policeman sitting in his car right outside, staring at me, and I felt so conspicuous leaving like that. Maybe he was sent by the state to keep people from leaving the theatre before the movie ended? The film had the effect that movies about writers and musicians often do - they make me realize that it is very hard to show the act of creating, at the same time they make me want to make something myself. Sort of like when I used to be in a TJ Maxx and hear Enya or Meredith Brooks or Colbie Caillat or Shakira playing (that buzzing pop music that always plays in those places) and think "Why am I shopping, I want to go home and write something so that someone like me might be shopping and hear my song and think 'Why am I shopping, I want to go home and write something'. And on and on...

As I turned the car around and went out the back way to avoid having to pass the gendarme, I saw another Pole Emploi office. I don't think hot pants girl was in there but possibly someone even less helpful.

And I turned Charlotte's album back on, and remembered that Charlotte was Serge's daughter and what a shame I hadn't stayed to the part in the film where she was born, how that would have really brought it all full circle.

On to the supermarket where, in the wine aisle, I spotted the one bottle of Italian wine in the whole store, a Chianti. I realized I needed a change, some variety. As you do. So I went for the Italian.

I know that part was real, because I just put the empty bottle in the recycling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lynch Life

I'd forgotten how great Twin Peaks was until Emmanuel brought it over the other night when I was delirious with fever. Hadn't watched it since it was on TV twenty years ago, and Eric had never seen it. It is making life better, watching this show again. It helped me be kind to the checkout girl at the local supermarket, even though I'd vowed that I was fed up trying to be nice and getting rebuffed.

"I pride myself in taking a punch and will gladly take another because I choose to live my life in the company of Ghandi and King. My concerns are global. I reject, absolutely, revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method, is love." In the words of Albert Rosenfield.

There sure are a lot of logs around here and I'm appreciating each and every one. Part of my new esprit comes from our quest to get up every morning and go for a walk, to try to get healthy for touring next month. Amazingly, the sun seems to be out from 8 - 10 AM, before the grey sets in, so if we rush out there first thing we actually get to see it.

My energy even extends to getting my tax return together way earlier than usual. I finally feel like I'm coming out of the darkness from that audit last year. Not to say things aren't still in a state of total confusion, it's just I'm not feeling as beaten down as I was.

Wish I could do better with my writing here, but I don't want to stop - for right now I'm putting the occasional update and hope you'll bear with me until I can concentrate again. Blame it on the wood smoke.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

Counting the days until our Irish/UK tour:

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby

Thu March 11 An Cruscian Lan Cork IRELAND
Fri March 12 Andrews Lane Theatre Dublin IRELAND
Sat March 13 The Black Box Belfast UK
Tue March 16 The Thunderbolt Bristol UK
Wed March 17 The Cellars Portsmouth UK
Thu March 18 Prince Albert Brighton UK
Fri March 19 Kitchen Garden Cafe Birmingham UK

(see here for ticket info, etc)

And we're starting to confirm US shows for June - I'll post those soon.

Meanwhile, Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby farewell to the Lawrence d'Arabie is tomorrow night. It's never been an easy place to play, what with tough acoustics (stone walls and tile floor), the massive fireplace at my back and the toilet directly to the right of the stage. But I'll always have fond memories of the place, from owner Nico pogoing and pumping his fist in the air to confused retirees sitting with fingers in their ears. But change is good. It's time to move on.

Monday, February 15, 2010

C'est Moi

la petite fontaine

We played in the medieval cave at La Petite Fontaine Saturday night and, as could have been predicted, the acoustics were...challenging. But it was a nice place and a good crowd of people, many English and some French including two women in their seventies who'd gotten all dressed up and sat there bobbing to the noise, until one of them rose to do a little dancing. I was losing my voice but it was uplifting to play again - it was the first gig we'd done since the Kevin Coyne shows in December.

Driving home through the snowy, moonlit countryside, bundled up and starting to come down with a monstrous cold and sore throat, I imagined we were Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in Dr. Zhivago, the ambulance a sleigh gliding across the frozen steppes. I was clearly getting delirious.

Yesterday I felt awful and then the heating stopped working again. This is the third time this winter we've run out of fuel. I crawled out to the barn to get some logs for the fire wearing hideous sweatpants, clogs, bathrobe, quilted down vest, scarf, hat and then collapsed back into bed, leaving it to Eric to take care of me for the rest of the day.


There were icicles on the awning out back, and in one way they looked beautiful and in another like the bars on a prison window. I was miserably ill. Emmanuel came over bearing a nice bag of Portugese figs and the first season of Twin Peaks. And then, desperate for cold medicine, I rummaged through an old bag of toiletries and found a box of slightly out of date nighttime sinus medication. How many times back in the US have I cursed those Walgreens stores that are on every corner - but the familiar logo was like a wave hello from a dear old friend.

Today, I feel like I want to live. I've been very caught up in "Madame Bovary". I'd started it last year but the type was too small, I needed to wait until I had a better pair of glasses. Then I read Tom Perotta's "Little Children" and there's a book group in there who read the book - I knew I had to get back to it.

trusty woodburner

And in my fever yesterday, I wondered how I could go so long in life without reading it? It was some consolation, thinking that if we weren't here, at this moment, in the French countryside, me sick in bed, I might not be reading the book.

A fuel delivery is coming tomorrow. And another gig on Saturday. I hope we'll be en forme by then. Right now we're possibly more Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck than Sharif/Christie.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kings, Dukes, Cowboys

local chateau

I'm cheating a little with this photo - I took it back in December, when snow was still a novelty. It's one of the local chateaux, which aside from having a moat and drawbridge and sitting very strikingly on a hill is also the place you go to get your car registered.

Finally gave in and got a winter cold and sore throat, and yesterday I could barely move. Today is better. I have to get better fast, we've got a gig in Le Dorat Saturday night. A new place for us, owned by a Scottish couple. We'll play in the 11th century cave that they've renovated.

We managed to translate the joint biography Eric and I have for gigs, with the help of our friend Emmanuel, into French. Much more challenging than you'd think but it seems a must for trying to get more work in France. When you consider that the term for "freelance musician" is "intermittent du spectacle", you kind of get the idea how wordy things can become. We were reduced, at one point, to going on Johnny Hallyday's website to find some language for summing up almost sixty combined years playing music. Forget it - the guy is too much of a monolith to need any basic biographic info. But his site is awesome!

The more French I learn, the more I wonder about basic style and subtlety - and all those French films I've seen translated into English, and whether I've really seen them at all. Looking at the reverse - take for example, Roger Miller's "King Of The Road" (on the soundtrack "Into The Wild which we watched the other night). On the screen, the lyrics rolled by for "Le roi de la route" and if you took the meaning literally from the translation, instead of a lowdown hobo vagrant type Roger sounded like some fussy fop doing a little slumming in a boxcar.

Or the title of another movie I got out of the library: "Macadam Cowboy". Which we decided was preferable to "Cowboy du Minuit". Or, my current favorite - "Shérif, fais-moi peur!" - "Dukes Of Hazard". Learning a language is just the beginning - there's a whole mentality that goes along with it all. I guess being bilingual is when you can pick and choose, one from Column A, one from Column B, depending on which suits the situation best. Maybe fluency is also reading cues that aren't conveyed by language at all - getting the intention from picking up on the style.

Now I'm listening to Eric finish up the mixes for the Gil Rose et les Hydropathes album he recorded here. I got to sing a little on it. They are my new favorite group, sing mostly in French and some English - a perfect blend of style and content. I think Johnny and Roger would both approve.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Little Hope

winter laundry

The sun came out the other day and I was able to dry the laundry outside. The whole woodburner thing has traumatized me, cause I looked through the back door at my vintage Vera napkins drying on the rack and panicked - it looked like they were smoking, so naturally I assumed they were on fire.

It was just a little steam.

All it takes is some sunshine for me to feel almost 100% more positive (except for visions of things burning). The countryside this winter is the darkest, emptiest place I've ever known, and I say that as one who spent two whole winters in Cleveland. But when the sky turns blue, it makes all the difference.

I feel hopeful. It'll soon be time to hit the boards again: this month we have our first show in Le Dorat and our final performance at local bar Le Lawrence d'Arabie before it changes ownership. The new people don't want to do music. They just want to turn it into what the French countryside so desperately needs - an English pub.

We're working away on our various projects and trying to finish that long-promised covers album. And next month, Eric and I will be playing for the first time together in Ireland, as well as visiting some of our favorite UK haunts:

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby

Thu March 11 An Cruscian Lan Cork IRELAND
Fri March 12 Andrews Lane Theatre Dublin IRELAND
Sat March 13 The Black Box Belfast UK
Tue March 16 The Thunderbolt Bristol UK
Wed March 17 The Cellars Portsmouth UK
Thu March 18 Prince Albert Brighton UK
Fri March 19 Kitchen Garden Cafe Birmingham UK

(see here for ticket info, etc)

And we're in the process of booking US shows for June. So, plenty to look forward to! I think everyone will be very impressed by the new stage show complete with flash pots and smoke machines.