I am writing this Post from a new home.
We have exchanged the woods and swooping Hills of Surrey for the heaths and lakes on the edge of the glorious South Downs.
New home. New School. Packing up. Moving on. Moving on up.
Actually 39 steps up.
Which seemed, when we first viewed the apartment, a good way to get the heart pumping and the blood pressure lowering each time those 39 steps were climbed.
But. But. Carrying 2200 books up those 39 steps proved a little more than a toning exercise.
Consider the equation.
2200 books times 39 steps equals one very tired hombre!
I’m not even contemplating the Vinyl issue.
I never have trouble sleeping.
But last night you’d have to measure the time between my head hitting the pillow and me lying in the arms of Morpheus in micro seconds.
A full fathom five sleep caressed by whispered dreams.
A sound spiralling and spiralling in and out of consciousness resolving at 6am into a name.
Jack. Jacques. Jack.
And, as always with me, a song.
Not take me right back to the track Jack.
Not you go back, Jack, do it again.
Not hey Jack Kerouac.
No, the song Finnegan flowing through my dreaming mind was ‘Jack Gets Up’ by Guitar maestro Leo Kottke.
Oh, oh, oh .. you know just how I feel Leo!
‘Everyday in the morning when you get up and you crawl out of bed
And you crawl out of bed and you crawl out of bed
Everyday in the morning when you get up and you crawl out of bed
And you look at the moon where the window is
And the stars shine, and the stars shine, and the stars shine
Everyday in the morning when you get up and you crawl out of bed
You crawl out. You crawl out. But the Moon and the Stars shine.
It’s another day of your life. Fresh white paper to leave your impression on.
Leo Kottke has been places and seen things carrying his guitar all the while.
He has developed a masters command of his instrument playing with a rare combination of finesse and feeling. Now, when you’re trying to hold an audience with self composed instrumental music it helps if you can tell a few stories too.
As shaggy dog stories go it would be hard to beat, ‘Jack Gets Up’. It exercises a hypnotic hold on your imagination as your mind knots itself trying to disentangle meaning and meanings from the lyric.
The allusions and resonances will appeal to each of us according to our different characters and histories and our capacity for daytime dreaming.
Perhaps we are all asleep in the same dream. But, whose dream? Whose dream.
I know well that feeling of seeing your Father’s face in he mirror and the thin grin … the thin grin as you ready yourself for the challenges of the day ahead.
Every life has lots of lint in the pocket. You mean to clear it out but it builds up. It builds up.
And, where, oh where, are my car keys! Probably next to my glasses!
Life resolves down to a process of finding and losing, finding and losing – on every level from the most trivial to the most cosmically important.
Tears in the bank and the credit card we all know about.
Yet, and this is the glory of life; once in a while the wind blows and the heart winds and the heart winds.
The brown ground and the worms patiently wait for us all.
So today as you crawl out of bed leaving the snort fort behind remember that the stars are shining above you and the Moon will light your night as the Sun will light your day.
And, once in a while when the wind blows and your heart winds, your heart winds grant yourself a grateful wide grin.
May the wind blow for you today.
Hats off to Jack and Jacques:
It happens that, after Tom, Jack is my favourite male name.
So, I take this opportunity to thank some of the Jacks and Jacques who have inspired and illuminated my life.
Jack Kennedy (you all know about him!)
Jacques Levy – Songwriter and Seer – ‘Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child.’
Jack Nicholson – a couple of tequilas to the good I sometimes act out some of my favourite Jack Nicholson lines. My absolute favourite, from The Last Detail, being:
‘I am the motherfucking shore patrol, motherfucker! I am the motherfucking shore patrol! GIve this man a beer.’
Jacques Tourneur – Film Director. He directed troubling thrillers and heart stopping noirs like I Walked with a Zombie and Cat People.
Always playing at The Immortal Drive In is his classic Out of The Past (build my gallows high baby!) starring an unmatchable Robert Mitchum and the most fatale of all femme fatales Jane Greer.
Jack Johnson – World Heavyweight Champion and iconic African American.
Jacques Prevert – Poet, Screenwriter. A very cool homme indeed. His, ‘Paroles’ travels everywhere with me (yes – up all those 39 steps)
Jack London – A writer whose hallucinatory gift for narrative grows more impressive the more I strive to tell stories.
Jacques Anquetil – He sure could ride a bike!
Jack Kellett – He plays a mean guitar.
Jack O’Toole – He sure did like a pint!
Jack Kerouac – the Beat goes on. And on. And on.
Jack Lord – Book ‘Em Danno.
Jack The Ripper (whose real identity was of course ……)
Jack Elam – as soon as you see Jack’s name in the credits you can relax. One fine Western coming up!
Father Jack – ‘Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!’
Jacques Derrida – What was he on about?
Jack Bruce – a true musician. Check out his Sings for a Tailor immediately!
Jack Palance – Boxer, Actor – in certain lights (principally the light of my imagination) I have been mistaken for JP.
Jack Teagarden – He played sublime Trombone and sang the Blues with deep feeling.
David ‘Jack’ Hayes – Father and Son, fine men both!
Jacques Tati – if you ever need cheering up …
Jack Nicklaus – If you wanted one Golfer to play a round for your life …
Oh and as we all know … ‘There was no actor anywhere better than the Jack of Hearts.’
By Public Demand more Jacks, Jacques, oh and while we’re at it 3 Jakes!
Many of my faithful readers have demanded favourite Jacks & Jacques to be added to the Jukebox Rollcall of Honour. So:
Thanks to Cincinnati Babyhead for ‘Jack’ the Dog from The Band’s classic The Weight.
Thanks to Beetley Pete for Jacques Brel, the great Chanson writer and famous Belgian (more on him later)
Thanks to Elmer Gantry for Jack Doyle fabled Irish Boxer.
While we’re on Boxers how could I have left out Jack Dempsey!
Jacques Cousteau dove pretty deep!
Jacques Rousseau knew a thing or too!
Jack Benny played the Violin (though not on Desolation Row)
Jack Reacher’s out there somewhere waiting for trouble to clear up.
Jake Thackray had wit and style and wrote songs like nobody else.
Jake LaMotta – boy could he take a punch!
And to wrap it all up – ‘Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.