I have returned from holiday. Six days and no longer as we could find no other cover for the care of our lame dog and our blind cat. Besides, I always leave it too late and whatever my fancy takes is wishful thinking. We took two rooms above a bar. They were almost ensuite. To piss requires leaving one leg in the bedroom. I didn’t mind particularly.
France. To the same town I have visited every year since my birth. Where I was baptised. Where my grandmother bought a narrow strip of land on low cliffs above the sea, in the days when it cost one franc an acre to buy.. or do they use hectars? Either way, it was large enough for her to sell half, raising enough money to build herself a two roomed ‘bungalow’ at the back, and a small holiday rental in the front of the space that she retained.
We usually arrived from Cognac. Thrilled by the first glint of sea on the horizon. I cannot write in french – but through the gates that still stand, up the short dust-sand drive, eyes lowered, quiet as mice, we ran to our weeping grandmother…’attention les estivants!’
To this place, whose doors I have seen five generations enter, we return. It swarms with cousins of cousins. Childhood faces in festooned skin. The chicken house is gone and there is a little more grass and the road outside has been tarred, but it smells the same and the same hedge of Bay survives on the descent to the beach, from which every year my father tore a leaf and pressed it to my nose.
Home and it rains. What do I care. A child who in France lived to be outside and to swim for as long as she was allowed, stays indoors here.
I am sounding maudlin now aren’t I. I don’t mean to be. It is that september feeling in august.
Yesterday I returned to Pete’s studio. We are happy. It is light around us. He sees no dangerous signs flickering at my brow.
Something marvelous happened for me. It transpired that the day before we mastered the album, a new session was now possible. We had made contact with Marcel Azzola. The Accordian legend. He who was encouraged to ‘chauffe!’ on Brel’s Vesoul, whose fluid and acrobatic fingers set fire to that song and pinned me to my seat. He, at 80 years old, was coming to play on our song ‘Home’.
One hand gives, one hand takes. It was the day that Ding was doing his Tour De France stage (which, incidentally, he finished, in front of the broom wagon and in time to win his bronze medal) thus leaving me sole care of our youngest. It was also the day for which I had an afternoon seat to see Finny perform her first and last big role in the junior school play. Ben Gun. Treasure Island. It could not have been otherwise.
She sang her song about cheese like a dream and my heart swelled and broke for her at the same time. Only in the moments she stood side stage did I wonder how the session was going, and worry that Mr Azzola would think me a rude ludite.
We had recorded that song real time together Pete and I. Playing it a number of times and then editing it for the guitar pass. I had sung it in a number of ways depending how hard we were going for it. It is a theatrical song. A character song which was written for spitting and snarling, for the stage. It doesn’t make me nervous transferring this role play to a ‘pop’ record. I think he worried, too much attitude and it would come over all Tits and Teeth and show hands. (Yesterday we replaced our original choice with a vocal that rants a little more. This will not be the same as the one that has gone on our sampler.)
Sod it..I say…let something be what it is..and don’t worry about the neighbours.
Monsieur Azzola’s performance is wonderful. A true musician. His energy a perfect bed for a voice to thrash upon.