This is an unfinished “Love Song”. A sketch I posted elsewhere a few years back. I’m posting it again now in memory of, in tribute to, David Roback, of Mazzy Star, who sadly passed away on February 24th. David, and Hope, thank you for the inspiration.
“You live your life, you go in shadow, you`ll come apart and you`ll go blind.”
I`m spinning in a basement bar the size of someone`s kitchen. The owner`s crazy. Crazy friendly, but crazy. He`s been to one too many Loft parties. Balloons attempting to brighten the tangle of air con pipes, a buildings worth of which all seem to exit here. Got a bad case of the “Mancuso`s”, and pours every yen the place makes into overhauling the sound system. Vintage UREI mixer, vintage Vestax decks, Altec cinema speakers taking up whatever ever space there might have been for a dance floor. I`m not complaining, `cos I`ve never played on anything like it. Tokyo spoilt me, since everywhere I got booked seemed to be run by a similar nut. Plus my booze here is on the house and I get a 10% cut. She walks in a takes a seat at the counter. Nothing unusual in a woman drinking solo in the centre of the city on a Friday night, but she`s dressed in a black bridal gown and veil. Again if you`d been walking down Harajuku`s Takeshita Dori, then she might have blended right in, but in Ebisu she catches a few looks. Including more than one from me. She sits next to Neil, whose a fanny rat at the best of times, though fully aware and usually shy of being too obvious. Careful not to be seen as another big Western man preying on tiny Japanese women. However, tonight he`s fucked up. “Bath Salts” I think they call them in the States. The guy in the shop in Shimokitazawa called the powder “Video Tape Head Cleaner”, and “Head Cleaner” sounds about right. They`ve been chatting nicely, discovered that the get up is in mourning of her fella who`s just left. Not this mortal coil, just her, but then Neil does something crass, like putting his hand on her chair so she puts her arse back down on it. He apologises profusely in public, and continues to beat himself up a long time after the gear has worn off. Head Cleaner. Turns out she`s a DJ. Fuck who isn`t these days? So I suggest she bring a few tunes next month and join us, try out, and she does and she`s OK. A handful of us rotate the gig, as it runs from 10PM till noon, and it`s nice to have a woman involved. Makes me feel like less of a geek. I end up giving her a load of old vinyl, Garage and Dubstep. She tends to prefer it dark. Shit I`ll never play again, despite how evocative it is of South London`s grey landscape of rain slicked streets, night buses, boredom, crap drugs and the threat of violence. The ghost of Rave. The echo of the party in your head. Perhaps because of it.
I get invited to a few events, club openings, sets by visiting UK acquaintances, and since she`s a member of the crew, I ask her along. My Japanese is pretty bad, and I`m suspecting that the way I`ve worded things means she thinks we`re on a date, since she`s looking super hot. Smoking. I parade her around on my arm, getting us in for free, getting us free drinks. It became a matter of principal that I never paid for entry. Anywhere. I`m getting strange glances, `cos everyone knows I`m married, but no one`s saying anything, and I`m figuring I`m just playing the game. I thought girlfriends were part of the culture here. Geishas, you know. Then I`m saying goodbye and I try to kiss her at the Metro turnstile and she slaps me. In front of the 6AM traffic. And I`m remembering Neil and really cringing. “Cliche, cliche, fucking cliche”. Another dirty old gaigen. I send sorries via social media, and the next time I see her she`s cool. Like nothing happened. Then one morning after a gig I`m walking her home, I`d never let a lady walk home alone, and she says “My son`s at Soccer Camp. You wanna come in?” It got so that when I wasn`t staring into her face, her eyes, her mouth, that I`d call her “The Witch”, because it was as if I`d been cursed. I couldn`t get it up at home. Not even to toss one off.
Then I`m in Aoyama, waiting for my slot in the main room of a three-storied venue, and she`s pissed, about ready to pass out. I carry her up to the top floor, to “Chill Out” and cover her with my coat, a goose-down Parka, Woolrich, something out of my price range that was a present from my sister. Lizzie does worry. The nights can be bitter in Tokyo, much colder than you`d expect. I do my two hours, then go back up to check. She`s moved, but only to put the coat on. So I carry her out through the dancing crowds, “Gomen nasai, Gomen nasai”, as her feet are bashing backs and elbows, spilling plastic-glassed cocktails, and hail a cab. She`s across the seat, head in my lap. I`m still drinking at this point, and I`m looking at her, framed by the fur hood of the Parka, watching her dream whatever she`s dreaming, and as I`m giving the driver directions to her apartment, I`m thinking what he must be thinking, “cliche, cliche, fucking cliche”. He must see it all the time. But it`s not like that. But maybe it is. And I`m saying to myself, “No good`s ever gonna come of this. Everyone`s gonna get hurt.”
David Roback, April 4, 1958 – February 24, 2020, RIP.