“Emotional Freedom, Phil Lynott, In Awe Of Savage Purple”
In the Alcoholics Anonymous book of Daily Reflections, right there on page 241, the Reflection for August 20th, it says “Toward Emotional Freedom”.
It quotes from Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions, it says;
“Since defective relations with other human beings have nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes, including our alcoholism, no field of investigation could yield more satisfying and valuable rewards than this one.”
Title-card onscreen, klinkin 1927 piano keys;
“TOWARD EMOTIONAL FREEDOM!”
Askew static angles, the docks alive with square-jawed brick-breasted sailors, all cheerin, thrustin fists in the air, one of em hollerin with the hands held either side a the yap, stirring the others towards the shimmerin emancipation over yonder by the steps, yes, TOWARD EMOTIONAL FREEDOM!
Reflections in the puddles, a Naval-hued stampede, a thousand feet tramplin the rain-lashed mornin into gnarled, battered muck.
A fella in front, much less masculine than the rest, whispers on bone where the bulging biceps should be, he stops, turns around, looking all uncertain, all unsure of things alla damn sudden.
The sailors round about, they start pointing Up Ahead, start yelling, wordless, but the title cards tell us all about how what they’re saying is “Comrade! Don’t Stop Now! Emotional Freedom Right There!”
And the fella kinda shrugs. Starts tuning an acoustic, seems to be muttering something or other, all apologetic.
“Sorry, comrades. I just dunno that I wanna be free just yet. I’m kinda diggin the melancholy.”
Stunned eyes burnin slack-jaw skulls.
“Also, this plinky-plonk is all well and good, but what say we grab hold a couple these chords right here and sing bout how My Baby Done Me Bad?”
Fade to red, grey, black, fade to
Sir Fleming hollering, “Get up you lazy bastard, t’is a glorious Saturday, there’s sitting around to be done!”
He throws that morning’s Independent at me, tabloid pages cascading this way an that. “More”, he says, “Plastic bags have been outlawed! Fugitives, we’ve ended up!”
Yesterday morning I arrived in this hotel carrying two plastic bags filled wi Diet Coke an a couple books – some William Blake, some Lester Bangs.
The hell you yackin bout, is what I get to muttering, grainy Soviet homosexuals headed ever closer to the rocks huggin the depths of the brain-gunk.
“Plastic bags, they’ve been outlawed. Some sort of environmental decision or other. It’s paper or nothing.”
“Also”, he says, opening the window, the stale stench a sixty-seven nightmares dissipating in the Dublin breeze, “It turns out I was right. It was Thin Lizzy.”
Yesterday, Friday, in the middle a some drunken moshing tribe seemed to sprout from tween the cracks on Grafton Street, roaring, chanting, all in awe of some performers obscured by the boppin and the boundin, guitars and saxophones slicing the afternoon sunlight, The Duke and Sir Fleming terrified out our last nuts.
The further we went into the jiving mass, the more deluded we became.
“What the hell’s going on here?”
“I dunno, but I just saw my death on that girl’s shoulder!”
Breaking free of the throng, a fairly tight concentration, truth be told, gasping the other side. “What is this voodoo?” I’m saying. “Is there a band? Who is that?”
“Sounds like Thin Lizzy”, Sir Fleming yells. “Some sort of street concert of some sort.”
“Thin Lizzy my arse, it’s Jandek if it’s anyone. Jandek, playin a show right here on Grafton Street, Nostradamus was right after all!”
Here, in the room, standing up with last night’s trousers still stickin to the legs, I’m apologizing. “You were right, the proof is here, clear as the shame on a priests thighs.”
Turned out that yesterday afternoon, just as myself and Sir Fleming were headed towards the record emporium at the far end of the street, Philomena Lynott and the mayor of Dublin, Catherine Byrne, were unveiling the statue of Phil Lynott a man can now find day or night casting shadows cross the coked up teens on Harry Street.
Stood there, chin juttin out halfway to Wexford, those blank brass eyes seein and not seein, the bass guitar at his side.
Later on, in Eamon Doran’s, makin my way to the toilets, tryin not to disturb the folks eating each others arseholes out to the throb of Love Will Tear Us Apart, I overhear a couple fellas banterin with regards Phil’s statue.
“Shoulda been the pose from the cover of Live And Dangerous“, one of them’s saying, “For gods sakes, he was the frontman a Thin Lizzy! He looks like a fuckin war veteran.”
I got to thinking bout my favorite Phil Lynott quote, time a journalist asked him what it felt like being black and Irish?
“Kinda like a pint a Guinness.”
Most times when I think of Phil, what I think of is the drummer in my old punk rock ensemble, telling us all bout how if we want the shadea filth we been itchin for, what we need to do is forget about The Misfits and get learning how to play Jailbreak.
“No one wants to suck a fella’s been singin bout Nazi Punks Fuck Off.”
Least that’s what I used to think of, back in the naivety of the pre-Savage Purple existence, back when Phil Lynott was the fella on the cover of Bad Reputation. Now what he is, is the fella who was standin beside Sinéad and Anna on the night of August 20th, the fella fading into the brick and the paving just the same as everyone else in the wake a that smile, that ‘lectric glow tearing the bindings of Dublin asunder.
Heading down to meet these folks, Sir Fleming’s telling me all bout how there’s no need to worry, the worst thing that can happen is she’ll say you make her sick to the back a the brains, and so what, you’ll get at least fifty songs outta that second alone.
It would be wrong to assume that I expected anything of a romantic sort, or even the casual, soul-destroying sort, to arise from the meeting. It would cost more litigation than a man could afford to assume that I imagined Sinéad might see sense, might realize that no, gorgeous as she is, drenched in that aura, that she might say sod it, I don’t care that anyone with half an eye to see or ear to hear would gladly tear their tongues out should I ask, what I’ll do is I’ll head for the sorta short-arse fucker with the busted yap an the songs bout “My Baby Done Me Bad, and also, I Been Thinkin All Sortsa Thoughts Bout This Lass Right Here With The Smile And The Eyes And The Words Fit To Scar Me”
And thinking bout her stood there by yonder statue, what I get in my head is the image of a mermaid, cept some sort of freak mermaid that ended up with human underparts as well as upperparts, meaning she would be accepted as One Of Us by the human types, gobble gobble, but her merfolk kin don’t know how to deal with her at all.
What she’s doing is she’s sat on the rocks out there in the sea of Spring 2005, what she’s doing is she’s smoking a Marlboro Red and singing a song about God and poetry.
What I’m doing is I’m saying no, no good can come from this, steer the boat some other direction, someplace away from the eyes and the song and the smile, you saw those rocks, fuck my eyes they’ll pierce my every gut.
What I’m thinking is I only just got picked up after an encounter with a similar creature, lured a fella in with the red-hair tied back an the eyes like liquid saffron, ended up screaming myself blind in the grip a some jagged aquatic fever.
Ended up with Lucinda Williams pleading;
“All I ask…
Don’t tell anybody the secrets I told you”
Ended up thinking no, I know she won’t, but what stings worse is that somewhere along the line I’m gonna have to go through that again, there’s gonna have to be a moment in the midst a some future embrace with someone I maybe already met, or maybe haven’t, a second when I say “By the way, bad shit went down…” and that right there, that’s enough to keep a man in the bathroom for five, six minute sprees from now till whenever.
Enough to have a man saying to Sinéad one night, “I think I’ve figured it out. I’m gonna be a monk. First thing in the morning I’m shavin the head and settin off for some fabulously oppressive gothic monastery.”
Enough to have Sinéad replying along the lines of “Go for it. It’s not like you’re havin’ sex.”
So what I’m imagining is that I meet up with a buncha geologists, and I say to them, I say “I want you to tell me all about those rocks right there.”
They set off in dinghies with hammers and electronic doo-dah’s blipping and bleeping and screeching, they come back with a sheet a paper four feet long, it’s got all sorts a things written on it, shit like maybe “Rock A – Rejection”, shit like “Rock B – Embarrassment”, shit like “Rock C – Loss”.
What I’m thinking is Sinéad told me one time how her favourite film is The Little Mermaid…
What I’m thinking is a conversation took place the night Live 8 happened, I’m saying to Sinéad all about how I’m gonna marry Pete Doherty, most likely, and she’s saying no, he’s mine.
Well fuck it, then, I’ll take Johnny Borrell out Razorlight.
“No. He’s mine too. Except…”
“Except he’ll have to fix his teeth first.”
“I got a thing about teeth.”
So I mused on this for a long time, I got all worried, I made notes, I wrote songs.
One day I say to her, look, before I come down to Dublin an’ that, there’s something you should know.
I tell her all about the drunken dentistry, all about the sorry state of a man’s yap ever since, and then all sortsa awkwardness, since it’s not like I was thinking any thoughts that would mean she would give a shit one way or the other, (and it’s not like she didn’t know that I was thinking those thoughts that I wasn’t thinking), so why am I even bothering to tell her?
“Because you don’t want me to run away screaming” is her suggestion, and it fits, so we’ll go with it.
And Sir Fleming’s saying “Is that them?” and I choke for a second with the force of the breath racin back towards the gullet, but no, it’s not. A couple folks stood watching the flame-eaters, is all, these buskers who got fed up playing Wonderwall all day so set about shoving blazin sticks down the maw instead.
Fling a couple quid, he just roasted his throat out.
And I’m saying “Is that them?”, but no, just a group a ladies smokin blow outside a Chinese restaurant.
And I’m telling myself over and over… Expect Nothing. She has no notions, and for sure, she knows of your notions, but who the fuck doesn’t?
On account of I’d known her a fortnight before I wrote her a ten-track net-record, or rather, she gave me a ten-track net record, since there wouldn’t a been two off-key notes to string together if not for the eyes and the smile and the words.
On account of the reams of references to her that sneaked into every paragraph of every review and every article what fell out my fingers.
On account of making a note in a blog entry about “I think what I thought was nothing more than a harmless obsession is careering blindly towards the L word“, and then she’s asking me, who is it? I’m nosey.
And The Duke all shy, ah, s’no-one, doesn’t matter, nothing I can do about it.
And then a message on the phone… “By the way, I know who it is.”
Flick-flung fuck, all these maniacal gabbering voices in the head when a man’s trying to stay focused, trying to make sure that I look presentable whilst doing my damndest to ensure that I also look like I don’t care.
I got this blue velvet jacket thing on, picked up in a store run by a fella got high one night in 1978 and spent the next twenty years telling everyone how out of it he was, and for sure, it looked good at the time, back there in the hotel, but now I’m thinking no, even if this were the only jacket this side a Alaska, still I shouldn’t have flung the fuckin thing cross my back.
All these thoughts and images and notions and maybes all running through the mind, all these terrifying What If’s, and then all it takes to clear the fuckers out the brain is for Sir Fleming to say “Is that them?” and for realization to sweep cross the psyche like blades cross a kidney, and for a wave, a “Hey!”, and she’s laughin, she’s happy, and in that second right there, that nano-second, any What If’s are sorted, done, out the road, and all because of the aura, the glow around her, like nothing I’ve ever felt ever even once, like it must’ve felt for the folks who wandered into Dylan’s hotel room back in 1966, back when he was penning Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands and who the hell knew what deity spawned him, but certainly he’s cascading cross some plateau we ain’t ever gonna reach, so all we can do is be thankful for the flickers we can catch when he takes those shades off for a second.
So, yeah, realising that there was No Fucking Way, that was a burden relieved right there.
I got a hug.
I could taste it.
I got a “Right, we’re goin to this bar, it’s fuckin insane, it’s a sweat-box, you’ll love it”, and Sir Fleming shrugs, says “Sounds good”, and then it’s hi, I’m Anna, and I’m saying hi, and thinking about holy shit, what seeds have been sown in this damn city, anyhow, every face leans forward’s enough to floor a fella twice fore he knows what the hell’s goin on.
Round the Phil Lynott statue, folks stood posing for photos, concentrated bursts of blinding camera flash, I’m asking Sir Fleming if he wants a photo taken.
“By fuck I do not. I wanna say Oi, Lynott, your bass playing was sub-standard!”
Harsh words for a crowd like this to be hearing, best head on here wherever Sinéad and Anna are headed, the screech-grind-thump-screech of Davidian by Machine Head leakin out from the cracks in the walls. I give Sir Fleming the kinda look that says “I feel fucking stupid for ever even toying with that notion that I never considered even once”.
Heading down the stairs, folks kissing and fondling and snorting gainst the red brick, sweat hangin from the light fixtures, graffiti on the walls – “Nat, You’re Amazing”, and “I Suck Old Bastard Cock” – smell of poppers in the air, tell-tale white-rock phantoms bove a fella’s lips straight ahead, Sinéad’s sayin “Come on, hurry up”, and I put the note-paper back in the pocket, the pocket of this fucking blue velvet jacket that was far too warm for the streets outside, never mind the boiling-point low-ceiling intensity of this gloriously deranged bar, folks moshing and yelling and cheering, girls falling over, drinks flung this way an that, a girl grabs my arse, says “Sorry”, I’m thinking no, no you don’t wanna be sorry, you wanna do it again if you wanna do anything, but she’s away, and Sinéad and Anna with bottles a WKD mixed wi Jägermeister, they’re saying come on, meet our friends, this is The Duke, this is Sir Fleming, say hello, and we’re saying hello, and we will meet these people, but not just yet, not until the songs done, what’s that lyric he’s yelling?
“Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!”
The homosexual Soviet sailors cheer.
Somewhere south a the throat and north a the naval a thunderin roar, I’m coughin gunpowder, can feel the ribs poking out my back, half a mangled spine with a buncha notes all about “Nothing of that sort possible, best just throw myself into this madness” draped round it, and I’m saying right, introduce me to these people, I refuse to leave this place till my brain’s doin loops in someone else’s head.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando