Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Brooklyn Christmas


This was a street in my neighbourhood two days ago. There's nothing like silence sudddenly descending on a city to make you feel Christmassy, or that war has been declared and no one told you.

So with that happy thought, it's time to sign off on this blog experiment for a short while, take a calorific holiday, then get back to work making the music that will either heal the world, or finally put it out of it's misery. I am nothing if not a humanitarian.

Have fun whatever you're doing, and see you in 2009.

P.S There's a little download you can grab of a Christmas classic - butchered, bled white, and slow roasted by me, on myspace. As soon as I can figure out how to put MP3s up here, I'll do that too.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Vampire Movie Mix Up



In my world, which approaches heightened levels of optimism at this time of year, I imagine the following scenario.

Mom calls up local movie theatre to find out if the vampire movie with kids is showing. It is. She takes her three corn fed kids and two of their fiends to see what they hope is 'Twilight'... instead they end up going to see 'Let The Right One In' - a Swedish movie, dark and funny, disturbing but deeply moral. It changes their collective world view. Mom and the kids throw away their terrible novels, start going to see films with subtitles, and occasionally read things with longer sentences and bigger paragraphs, without such a mind-numbing christian bias. The world becomes a better place for them and for us.

What actually happens is they go see 'Twilight', eat pop corn, get fatter and stupider and spend the next saturday night trying to phone vote for this week's pop idol.

Be like the smart people this Christmas. If you want to see a vampire movie, go see this, before the re-make comes out next year. Sentences you never hear at dinner parties: "the remake was so much better than the original". For this there must be a reason.

Despite taking it's title from a Morrissey song, it's a fab film. Let the Morrissey hate mail begin - it's not like I haven't framed most of those letters you know. My library in the west wing has a whole wall devoted to them.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Charting The Passage of Time

How time passed today between 6.23pm and 7.55pm today. This time of year can take my introspection to absurd levels. And drawing a circle seemed easier than finishing a song. I also tried listening to Sigur Ros. But you would need an electron magnifying microscope to see how little time I could actually manage. Enya for Guardianistas. But that's just my thoughts.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Monday, 8 December 2008

Meaningless


Last night the waves on the Hudson were tipped with white and the wind whistled a broken lullaby through the gap between window and sill. The uptown breeze on 8th was a downtown gale on 9th, obeying traffic regulations if not the laws of nature, while white plastic bags took to the air and grey seagulls took to the trees.

I like weather you can’t argue with. The true liberation of tyranny, all decisions made for you, nothing to do but comply. A day for eating soup, reading biographies and giving up on the search for meaning in things. A day for forsaking appearance in exchange for warmth, for wearing that hat that looks stupid on Oxford street but sensible on Broadway - or so I keep telling myself.

A day for staring only briefly at the Sarah Palin lookalike brushing the teeth of a cat in the window of a pet store, and for barely pausing before the festive tins of spam (?) in a deli on 14th. Like I said, a day when all that’s required is to put one foot in front of the other and hope they’re headed somewhere warm, a day for doing, not questioning. The best of days.

video

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Caffeine Headache



With 400 dead in religious fighting in Nigeria, a terrorist massacre in Mumbai, New York on high alert for an attack before Obama's inauguration, and the world seemingly in a state of perpetual war, it's important to keep perspective on things and not let the fearmongers win. So, I want to discuss coffee cups.

It's becoming an issue for me. Granted, not a life-threatening one, not even one that is of any real interest to anyone but myself - but an issue nonetheless. Coffee is a vital part of my day, it kick starts my brain, and more specifically the guilt lobe, which after an hour of reading about the state of the world and imbibing caffeine, forces me to try and mutate the base materials of life into three and half minutes of aurally pleasing gold.

What I need, therefore, is a relatively quiet spot, a relatively recent newspaper, a relatively decent cup of black coffee (none of your decaf skinny mochaccino hazelnut whip lattes here)... and most importantly, a fucking cup I can drink from. I am a widely travelled man, I appreciate different cultures, but when did it become fashionable for anywhere other than Paris to serve coffee in bowls? Granted, in France a croissant dipped into a bowl of hot chocolate can make a heartwarming breakfast - if you're seven, eating at a picnic table with smiling strangers, and suffering the freezing cold of yet another fucking christian commune when you thought you were going on holiday. But that's for another session.

Coffee in a bowl is the equivalent of a square wheel. My species evolved with opposable thumbs, and the ability to raise our elbows. Am I a fucking horse now? No, coffee should be served in something you can pick up, preferably with one hand, whilst idly flicking past the headlines to the sport, and simultaneously checking out your reflection in the mirror opposite. It should not be served in something that is so fucking hot you can't pick it up, so fucking cold twenty seconds later it's undrinkable, and so fucking wide that you give yourself a facial in the steam and dunk your freshly blow-dried fringe before finally giving up and asking for one to go.

Is it too much to ask, that in a dangerous and unpredictable world, at least one cafe in this part of Manhattan could serve coffee in a decent porcelain cup? Even a mug. Maybe it is too much, like peace in our time, religious tolerance, Ipods that don't freeze on long journeys, and accurate weather reports. Damn you, Obama, you gave me hope for a better world, and still I have to put up with this. Next week: Palestine vs Israel, who makes the best pastries?

Picture 1) Right.
Picture 2) Wrong, and against God and nature.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Ask Tom #8




Did I dream it, or were you once on Buzzcocks when you were but a fresh-faced lad? Ever been invited back?


Yes, back in 1578, shortly after I returned bloodied but unbowed from the battle of Al Kasr al Kebir, fluent in Portuguese but with my ego dented by the military might of the Moors - I was invited to appear on the tv show, Nevermind The Buzzcocks. I'm pretty sure it was my my second and final appearance on BBC television, having appeared years earlier on Later with Jools. I was younger then, and indeed fresh of face. Ah, there's nothing like misguided belief in your future to keep you looking young. These days I just stare at the red phone on my desk, which rings whenever a representative of the media world wishes to contact me and request an interview, or tv appearance, or wants to review a a gig. To my knowledge it hasn't rung since July 2004 when someone claiming to be my Mother asked if I was feeding myself properly and was I interested in a job that had just come up at the Post Office. I stare and stare, and stare.

P.S This is a quick picture I took of the battle, with my new .00005 MP Canon Crap Shot, which was brand new that year. That's me, on the far left. As always. Before you email, it was on timer. Obviously. It wasn't the dark ages.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Got Milk?


The list of things I have been brought in diners, having originally asked for a glass of water, was extended dramatically this week, by the arrival at my table of a telephone book. Seriously. To date, I have been brought a bottle of milk,a loaf of bread and now this. Awesome. A-W-E-S-O-M-E! I shall continue to help spread English as the main language here, but I fear it may be a lost cause. For the first few years I thought "Huh?" was a formal greeting, not just the slack-jawed response of the morons in Rite Aid. The name just says it all. Ah well, London isn't any better. Maybe it's me, maybe I mumble, maybe I'm old and long for an era of politeness that is either long-gone or exists only in the imagination. Explain then, why the building I live in is populated by the loveliest, most polite, endearing and interesting old people I have ever had the privilege to meet. Perhaps because I'm edging closer to being one of them. They break my heart every time we share an elevator conversation. We talk about the weather, grandchildren of course, and the morons in Rite Aid. So it's not just me.


Tom's Film Round Up

Place your bets now for Sean Penn to win best actor and Josh Brolin for best-supporting, for "Milk", the biopic of gay San Francisco activist, Harvey Milk.I cried. I cry at everything. As for "Synecdoche, New York", I had to watch the dumb "Role Models" immediately after, just to recover. And I can't actually remember the new James Bond, although I'm sure I saw it, and despite being a Jack White fan, it has to be the worst theme tune ever. Apart from Madonna. Obviously. "Madagascar 2" has the best talking hippo scene... now if "Synecdoche" could just have crowbarred some singing animals into the movie, it might have lifted the mood slightly. Sometimes a movie can be so bereft of hope, so repetitive, so remorselessly dark, so bleak in it's eventual outcome, in short, so much like my actual life - that I may as well have stayed home and stared in the mirror for three hours. I've got that pencilled in for tomorrow. It's a Sunday after all. I hate Sundays.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


In preparation for my Thanksgiving dinner, I have been watching Top Chef, presented by Padma Lakshmi on Bravo. Some people close to me have interpreted this as lassitude, brought on by last night's combination of me, Jim Bianco and a bottle of bourbon. That person is wrong, however, I am not hungover, I am doing research. After 3 hours of the show I feel fully equipped to cook a big meal... or at least eat one. If anyone has any last minute recipe ideas, then post them here, I have to impress my guests - right, back to chasing that turkey round the room.

P.S Here's a picture of me and Padma earlier. Let's face it, Salman never stood a chance.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar


I realise blogging on tour would have made more sense, but I get swept up in events (i.e tired and drunk), so I shall attempt to make up for this failing by subjecting you to increasingly desperate and random observations from my kicking around New York City looking for distraction and inspiration.


Dan Smith will teach you guitar. I know this because his black and white flyers, stuck wherever possible (and some where it is possible but surely inadvisable) tell me so. Over the years his face has become more familiar to me than my own. Being Dan Smith must be like walking forever through a hall of mirrors. I have no idea for how long he has been teaching guitar, or even if he is still alive. In the picture he looks late twenties, maybe early thirties – it’s a difficult age to pin down – he may even be dead by now, his poor family and friends forever haunted by his visage in every corner store and deli window. Dan Smith must have put heroic effort into flyering all these years. That or he has a battalion of supporters, each taking an armful of posters and ensuring his face is permanently staring out at you, offering to teach you to master the guitar. I admire Dan. He has taken steps to ensure that for guitar lessons in NYC, he is the ‘go to’ guy. I wonder if he goes further, and tears down the posters of other potential teachers. Does he garrotte them with a bronze-wound G string, or wait in darkened alleys for them, only to leap out and slash at them with a sharpened silver plectrum, which he keeps dangling from his neck at all times for just such a purpose. Does he cradle their heads in his lap as the blood drains slowly from them, whispering: “it’s okay to let go, I’ll take your students from now on”? … before taking their posters and tossing them casually in a dumpster, or more likely burning them so the wind cannot accidentally carry out his rivals’ work for them? Is Dan the grey squirrel of the guitar teacher world? Does he quash his rivals, steal their nuts? I have no idea. I doubt it. He probably just teaches guitar.

But here’s my point: “You have no upcoming shows in the system” is the most depressing thing revealed by my MySpace page, other than my songs of course. It leaves my mind time to wander, detaches my sanity from the part of my brain that looks both ways for traffic – and leaves me prey to such flights of fancy as wondering if Dan Smith is a serial-killer/guitar teacher. For instance, I wandered in to Best Buy today, to escape the cold, and ending up watching kids playing guitar hero for hours. Hours!

I wonder if there is a Guitar Hero Dan Smith Edition? But of course there isn’t, if there were Dan Smith would have made damn sure I know about it.

I am hiring Dan Smith to do the publicity for my next album.

Right, I am now off to shop for food for Thanksgiving... I will be roasting a pilgrim, handing out smallpox covered blankets to people, and generally giving thanks that I am not remotely interested in the game known as "football". Stepping outside to "toss a little pig skin" means something entirely different if you grew up in Suffolk.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Ask Tom #7 - Duende




At the Seattle show this last week, you started talking about a Spanish concept or term that dealt with the understanding of death and how it affected living. I was hoping to find out the Spanish word for it that you mentioned.


Hello, did I really start talking about that? Put a quarter in the slot and watch me go! I was probably referring to Duende, so for a more comprehensive answer you should probably just google it.. but I'll have a go. Duende is a 'darkness' at the core of existence, for everyone - but especially for the artist who deals in melancholy and the sadness of the soul, wrestling with the inevitability of death set against the beauty of life. Or something like that. Nick Cave is more eloquent on the subject than I am. But read up about it, because it made a lot of sense to me, and I discovered some great Spanish poetry along the way. Or it's just the day after Tuesday if you've got a cold. One of these is probably close.

Tom


P.S This is a picture of Lorca. He knew all about it.

Two Free Punches With Every Car Wash


"Two free punches with every car wash"... now that's just too good an offer to pass up. I can pretty much get at least one free punch anywhere I go just by opening my mouth, but TWO! just for getting my car washed, well that's a bargain. Who knows what this Car Wash en route to Vancouver was trying to say, but maybe they were having a bad day, or maybe some sort of fruit-based party beverage was what they had in mind. Anyway, made me laugh, thank you Mr Kleen. A great run of shows on the West Coast has drawn to a close, who knew there would be so many of you - at what amounted to my first headlining shows in San Francisco, and Seattle? And I finally made it to Vancouver, which has been on my wish list for many years. Now I just have to figure out how to come back sooner rather than later. Now I'm back in New York City, 21 floors up in Chelsea, staring out over the slate grey (gray, if you must) Hudson and looking forward to Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I'll find some things to write about when my soul has caught up with my body, and my body has forgiven me for truck stop food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That may take a while.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Ask Tom #6



I saw, in your profile that you listen to "the good kind" of music. So I'd like to know, what is, according to you, the "good kind" of music ?
I mean, I have been taught, and I am deeply convince (is that word correct in english ?) that there is no good or bad music, there is only music you like or dislike. The matter isn't what you listen to but what you feel when you are listening to the music.
Thanks for paying attention to my question and sorry for the mistakes I must have done : my english is not as good as my french mother tongue.


Your English is great, have no fear. Hmmmm, I suppose Kierkegaard in his Philosophical Fragments argued that truth can only be subjective, which is essentially what we're talking about here; the absence of absolute truth (a generic good music) as opposed to a sincerely held personal belief that whatever you like is whatever you like, and it is therefore subjectively valued as good. This would seem to be the rational answer to your question. However, Kierkegaard was a lying bastard seeking only worldly fame, capable of saying anything if he thought it would make a headline. The philosophical equivalent of Madonna. He is also wrong. There is bad music, bad art of all forms, and the world would be a better place if I could personally choose what was made available to be consumed by the public, rather than putting our faith in the free market to allow the cream to rise to the top and the shit to sink to the bottom.

In pre-Glasnost Soviet Union, you could only buy the classics of Russian Literature. Not a Da Vinci Code to be found anywhere. And those classics sold in large numbers, because people wanted to read, and this was what was available. Now in the countries of the former Soviet Union it is possible to buy pretty much whatever old toss you want to read... Grisham? They got 'em. Chick lit? Coming out the wazoo. But strangely the total sales of books remains the same. Proving that if you give a human a choice, he or she will inevitably make the wrong decision. Human beings are lazy, 75 per cent water we take the route of least resistance, and it always leads down hill. So, to sum up.... is there a good music or a bad music? Nah, not really. Long as you listen, dance, laugh, cry, it could be Abba or Zappa. Just give Madonna a miss.

Tom

Cigars



Cheering. Cigar smokers on the stoop. NYU students chanting. Strangers smiling at strangers. Drunken singing in the bars on Bleecker and MacDougal. Blue outnumbering red, and who gives a fuck about Montana? (although it’s good fishing country, so I am magnanimous in victory). What a night. For the day after, cynics had to try a little harder to look cool. So I gave up and joined in. Finally New York has something in common with the rest of the country, a President Elect it voted for. And yes, today the world does feel a little different. Although a California that can vote for farm animals having bigger enclosures but against gay marriage, still proves there is work to be done. America, a work in progress as they say.

The New York shows are over now, my home from home - The Living Room – has become a very special venue for me over the years, with a very special audience who make me feel so welcome, that two shows seem barely enough. Thanks to all of you who have come to the gigs and for bringing that unique energy into the room, making all of them memorable for me. Thanks to Karen for putting posters up, Tim for pausing his recording when asked! and the loyal band of friends who turn up come rain or shine. Over the years the list of musicians who join me has grown too, so thanks also to Jason Hart and Clare Burson, piano and fiddle, combining with the ever amazing Oli Kraus to make me feel like we’re changing the show each time. Next year drums?

Time to head west, back to LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Portland, maybe see you there.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Half Way Hopeful


Heading out of Montreal en route to Toronto, on a rain-soaked 401 highway, we speed south through Ontario, on the first day of serious rain we’ve seen for a while. We take a full 20 minutes to pass a huge convoy of RVs, flocking before heading south for the winter on their annual migration of retired adventurers, jeeps towed behind, throwing up a dangerous spray that reduces visibility to feet and increases braking distance to miles. It is a reminder that touring like this is more of a challenge, the occasional nine hour drives between cities taking their toll on energy and conversation. Not for us the comforts of the European tour bus, with the flat screen, lounge, beds and kitchen… but there’s something satisfying about really feeling the miles rather than just waking up in a new city. More like sailing compared to flying, and about as wet.

Thank god, then, for the comedy channel on satellite radio, that offers respite from the continual heavy rotation of classic rock that clogs the airways in North America and Canada. It’s as if time and culture stopped sometime around 1976, before Zeppelin split and punk burnt down the houses of the holy. It’s not a bad way to travel, imagining myself aged seven again, listening to Blinded By The Light, wearing jumble sale clothes and counting down the days to the release of Star Wars. Hearing those classic clips of Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, Richard Prior et al reminds me that it isn’t just rock stars that die before their time.

The shows have all been fun to play, some bigger than others, but they're all special for their own reasons. I’ve been given a scarf, and bottle of Canada’s only Single Malt Whisky - so bring on the New York winter – you hold no fear for me now. I love the change from Fall to Winter here, the trip from Boston to Montreal left me more exhausted by the beauty of the leaves on the trees, ablaze with every shade of yellow and red – than by the actual driving. That’s Steve’s job. And to think he laughs at me because I don’t drive. He’ll figure it out one day.

Now, with the final Montreal and Toronto shows done, making good on last year’s promise to return, it’s an early start and a thirteen hour train ride to New York City. The train moves so slowly I could get out and walk alongside and still be in the city before the Amtrak wagons roll into Penn station… but I don’t. It’s on these train rides that ideas for songs come, that dreams come bubbling up from interrupted sleep. Dreams of downing tools and moving to a place somewhere upstate, settling down in a quiet little town and forgetting about everything. Dreams of spending my days fishing in the Catskills. Dreams of Barack Obama in the Whitehouse, George Bush in the ground, and dreams of a brighter morning on November 5th. Half way between things is a nice place to be. Half way between sleeping and awake, half way between seasons. Half way between cities, half way on the tour, and best of all, half way hopeful.

ASK TOM #5


Hey!
This is going to be a strange question; of this I am aware.
So would you rather pull all of your veins out with tweezers, interview Madonna-in her fake British accent, no less-about hungry cats, be forced to vote for John McCain, or put up shelves?
Just curious...


There was a cartoon in a recent New York paper of Madonna asking her lawyer about her divorce settlement, with the caption: "Do I get to keep the accent?". Made me chuckle. This is one of many Madonna themed questions recently. Years ago, when I was full of piss and vinegar and moral fury, I would have ranted about Madonna being culturally toxic, a vapid role model for empty ambition that has fuelled a misguided generation of young women who believed she represented power, liberation, sexual equality and spiritual enlightenment. Now I don't really care. I take this position as I believe it would hurt her the most, to have someone be not outraged by her, not fascinated by her, just bored. Having said that, I picked this question to answer, somewhat trampling my own point in the process. I can only hope that soon Lourdes will move back to New York and cement a proper accent, as I fear that being raised by Guy and Madge will leave her sounding like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

So, to the answer. What was the question again? Er... I'll interview Madonna. The first option is painful and dangerous, as is the third and fourth. If McCain wins however, I will gladly pull my veins out with tweezers.

Tom

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Yorkshire Gold

So - after desperately figuring out how I could fund the Malawi trip to play at the Lake of Stars Festival - it turns out at the last minute to not be possible. Damn this economic crisis, stopping me in my bid to become the next Bob Geldof, or more likely, Peaches. Ah well, these things happen, and it was nice to be asked. There's always next year, as Liverpool fans tell themselves, usually in a few weeks time (you know, I don't hate Liverpool, I respect them and admire Benitez, but if it wasn't for the hate emails I'd never have contact with another human).

I sublimate my heartbreak by contributing several metric tonnes of CO2 to global warming and jetting off to New York to prepare for the tour. I then sublimate my environmental guilt into... let's face it, a large whisky, and the promise to help build the sea defenses around the city when the need (and water) arises. But of course I do actually worry about flying too much, and touring in a bus too much, and about not recycling hummus tubs which are just too tedious to rinse out...(CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SHEER TONNAGE OF ORGANIC VEGAN HUMMUS TUBS THAT CHRIS AND GWYNNY HAVE TO RINSE OUT A WEEK? WHY AM I SHOUTING?) but I've yet to hear a coherent plan to tackle the real issues. And if the leaders of the world can't control (or save) the economy, then what hope the planet? Ah,Tom, it's better to light a candle than to sit and curse the darkness, although I suspect that lighting candles is probably a major cause of the planet overheating, so I've resolved to not celebrate my next birthday - which would be an awful lot of burning wax - and I will instead sit and make a wish as I try to blow out a low energy bulb provided free of charge by my energy company. Thanks for that EDF - a free bulb from you is a bit like being fucked up the arse and offered a cup of tea at the same time, one does resolutely not make up for the other. At least not in any prisons I've visited recently. Although maybe Yorkshire Gold at a push, that's a damn fine cup of tea. (Anyone from Yorkshire Gold wishing to sponsor the next tour please contact the usual address - Yorkshire Gold, takes your mind off prison sex.)If the music fails there's always a career in advertising.

And I see the Forum's not working again... sorry. I don't know what's up... but it'll be fixed soon. That's really what I came on here to say, but ended up spewing forth more nonsense. The live album ships in week's time, and to those of you who have pre-ordered it, I would tell you exactly how much it means that you have, but that would embarrass us both, so I'll just quietly say 'thanks' and move on. Okay, I've just re-read this... what the fuck am I talking about? I should drink way less caffeine. I just woke up, hold none of this against me.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Ask Tom #4


JET ENGINE LULLABY

Whatever happened to this song? Will it ever surface on a cd?
Could you play it when you come to the Hotel Cafe in Nov?


Hmmmm, I have no idea. I may have just fallen out of love with it, or it didn't survive the recording process - sometimes these things just fade away, like making eye contact with a girl on the subway but never asking her name, or Liverpool's championship dreams...

All unrecorded songs live on in some great MP3 player in the sky, to be downloaded one day by another songwriter searching for inspiration - probably for as little as 9 cents. Could I play it in LA? I doubt I could remember the chords, but stranger things have been known to happen.

Tom

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Stalking Wounded


A week ago I do a bit of talking head to camera for a Nick Cave documentary, as I leave the studio I pass Seasick Steve on the stairs. I nod hello, a "you-had-to-get-up-early-on-a-Sunday-for-this-too-did-you?" sort of way, and he nods back. A few days later I'm dropping off a guitar at a hotel for one of Pink's backing singers to borrow while she's in London (don't ask, I lead a complicated life) when I turn round and bump into... Seasick Steve, clearly a guest at this hotel. Do his friends call him Sea? Sicky? Steve? Probably Steve, now I think about it.
I nod hello, in a sort of "I-nodded-at-you-last-week-and-now-I'm-nodding-at-you -again-but-I-don't-know-why" sort of way... he nods back, in a sort of "I-
have-no-idea-why-you're-nodding-at-me-either, shorty-Sean-Bean" way, and then turns and leaves. Two days later I'm in Soho looking through the window of a guitar shop (no, really) when my eye shifts focus from the guitars in the foreground to a bloke inside the shop who turns and looks out the window and stares me directly in the eye...he looks familiar. It's Seasick Steve. He is unamused. Like most blues singers.

By this point it is clear that one or either of us is stalking the other... I assume he thought I was the nutter as he has just sold out The Royal Albert Hall and I'm off to play venues in the US that would struggle to hold the Team GB sprint relay team. So now that's what I'm reduced to... inadvertently stalking old blues guys. Or maybe we're just destined to be together. Who knows? Safe to say I am not leaving the house until Sicky has left the country.

Monday, 29 September 2008

You Didn't See Lefors Out there Did You?


As the sun sets, and reflected vapour trails in the canal emerge from the darkening blue – like the flag of St. Andrew rising from the depths – it’s time to let the day fall away, with all its triumphs and tragedies, and head home to a vodka and tonic and a celebratory viewing of Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. I imagine this is how I will spend my days after the apocalypse, fishing in the canal, and reciting lines from my favourite movies. That and killing zombies.

I wrote “I ain’t scared of lightning” while watching the end scenes of CHL, borrowed the title of “Stronger than Dirt” from the scene with his dying mother, and have the film deeply embedded in my psyche to the point where I unconsciously reference it all the time. That’s another way of saying ‘steal’.

1969’s Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (we both had our initial release that year) led me first to Paul Newman, and to William Goldman who wrote it, and to George Roy Hill who directed it (and several of my favourite films) and finally to Conrad Hall, whose cinematography has remained unparalleled throughout history – CHL is all about the blue, baby. Prisoners’ uniforms, southern skies, Newman’s eyes. It’s actually Conrad Hall who doubles for Butch when crashing the bike in the famous Bacharach/David “raindrops” sequence, trivia fans. CHL (1967) was ground zero for an explosive starburst of talent - play spot the famous actor - a family tree of interlinked artists whose work I cherished as a kid, and am grateful for now. But Hill, Hall and Newman…alas all now gone. Thankfully summonable at the flick of a switch – at least for a little while longer, so that’s how I will spend my Sunday evening, in their company. I raise my glass to you all, gentlemen – the first of many hopefully, if I can find something left at the back of the fridge to drink. Ah yes, here it is. For a moment there…

Thursday, 25 September 2008

King McRae


Exciting news for all of us who harbour dreams of ruling over our fellow men: it is now not necessary to be protestant or male to be heir to the throne of England. To be fair, those requirements weren't necessarily a struggle for me. Now the only thing standing between me and a life of pointless luxury and constant tabloid coverage, is the fact that I wasn't singled out by God to be born in the right bed, to some(foreign) blue-blood, probably so in-bred that for every child born with the requisite number of limbs there is a baby in the attic with the head of an ant. Jesus-fucking-Christ, are we still putting Royal stories (even constitutional ones) on the front page of serious newspapers? Some days I struggle to find evidence that we live in a grown-up world. Maybe Sarah Palin is right, maybe the planet is only 7000 years old. That would explain alot.

PS. To everyone who says the Royal family don't harm anyone, or that they bring in tourists' money... and give us some sense of heritage and tradition... I say this: they establish the fact (one compounded by private education, hereditary peers... etc) that the bed in which you were born will be the defining characteristic of your life. What the fuck does that mean for those of us born in Chelmsford?

PPS. There goes the OBE.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Ask Tom #3


hi there , uhm there is something that i have been thinking about for a while now but i didn't dare to ask you at the time. Well ,I was the girl who threw the panties on stage in Utrecht and you looked annoyed or something ,we thought it would be funny and actually I still think it was , just checking ...
bye x nele


Hi Nele, I can't imagine I would have been annoyed. Things like that could happen more often if you ask me... knicker throwing never seems to happen enough to singer-songwriters. Are we not human? Do we not need love? Is it too much to ask that people throw under garments at us to express their recognition of the passionate souls performing for their pleasure? If I made a funny face I can only apologise. I can look a bit weird when I sing. Did I take them with me? What happened to them? Ah, we always have a good time in Utrecht. Except when we're robbed at gunpoint. But panties can make up for that.

Tom

P.S If this starts a craze of throwing pants, can it just be the women? No men.

Ask Tom #2


I'm wondering if there's anywhere I can view/hear your performance of "Language of Fools" on the Conan O'Brien show from probably 5+ years ago. Thanks!

Good question, I have no idea. I take it you've tried YouTube? I'd like to hear it myself. I remember being freezing cold in the studio (apparently you can only be funny if it's cold) and the audience didn't stop cheering until we'd nearly finished the song. I think they were wound up by the floor manager to a point of high excitement and no one warned us they'd scream for so long. Still, it was nice to be on Conan. I still have the sign they made for my dressing room door. Sad, I know... but those little things are souvenirs of exciting times.

Ask Tom #1


I saw you in Atlanta, GA when you opened up for the Water Boys and became an instant fan. Any plans to ever come back to Atlanta?

Thanks,

Jerry Adams


Hello Jerry. That seems a long time ago now, was it the Roxy we played? I remember a great little theatre, and also playing an in-store somewhere that day. It's all starting to get lost in the mists of time. I'd love to come back to Atlanta but alas have no real plans to just yet, as all my touring in the states is self-funded right now and I can only play a select few cities. Maybe you can book a trip out to East or West coasts one day. If not, hold a house party, invite me, and we'll see what we can do!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Raining Bankers


For the past few days I've had my binoculars trained on Canary Wharf, trying to spot the newly unemployed billionaire bankers jumping from the top floors. Alas, none of them seem capable of doing the decent thing - so until it is literally raining bankers I refuse to believe this recession is as bad as they say. When I say 'they', obviously I mean journalists, for whom nothing is as exciting as total disaster. "Economy follows same predictable pattern as before" isn't really an exciting headline is it? Never mind, tighten the purse strings, send back the helicopter, and concrete over the pool, and I'm sure we'll all survive - just in time for the next disaster. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world hurricanes kill people, floods, famine and disease still decimate populations,and wars rage. But fuck them. Where's my fuel rebate?

Having put down the binoculars and climbed off my soapbox, I head off to the studio to master a collection of live tracks recorded over the last year on the European tour. This official bootleg collection (as I'm temporarily calling it) is like a little time machine that has been transporting me back to some of my favourite moments in recent years. Playing with Oli and Olli is always a privilege, and it's nice to hear back some of those live moments (complete with audience participation) without being covered in sweat, worried about my hair, and trying to remember the words. When it's done I'll see if there's anyway of releasing it, depending on demand. He said coyly.

Right, I have to go and decide how and where to hang the Damien Hirst that has just come into my possession. I'm thinking by the neck, with piano wire, from my front porch - as a warning to all other talentless charlatans.

P.S I don't have a porch. Paunch maybe. Not porch.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A field that is forever Essex


People amaze me. Generally it's our ability to fuck things up given half a chance, which definitely happened at the Offset Festival this weekend. But mostly it's the fact that people have deep wells of resources upon which they can draw in times of need. I mean it's not Hurricane Gustav or anything, but seeing the faces of a die hard audience who had waited three hours, were exhausted, hung-over and ready for bed, but still willing to stay for the show, was heart-warming. Having wandered in search of a stage willing to have us, like Joseph and Mary with a little baby cellist in tow, we eventually wound up back at the original stage. This show, and the previous Borderline show, were our small way of seeing out the year with a couple of intimate gigs, having been inspired by the Brighton weekend to try and weave some magic in tiny rooms (and tents) before we all disappear for another year or two. And despite organisational chaos, I enjoyed them. There is a flame here that needs protecting and nurturing. A secret. But like all good secrets I feel compelled to share it, so I'm off to the states to whisper it to some other friends. It's been an interesting summer. I stayed still for months - that never happens. I wrote and discarded an album's worth of songs.... (okay, they went missing on a stolen laptop - but I realised I didn't miss them or mourn their loss), I became handy with a drill and screw driver in an attempt to stay dry (and burglar proof)...so it's been an experience all in all. McRaetheism was conceived as a complete additional website, a forum for rants, ideas, philosophies and much more. It was almost finished when said laptop was nicked. Get insurance people, and back things up - that's my advice. But instead of giving up totally on the idea, as a stop gap I'm trying this Blog thing. It's simple and just about functions, like me, so I'll have a go for a while. Happy Autumn, thanks for coming to the shows. Hopefully see you in the States with my little friend, Steve Reynolds.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Conversations with my fridge #24


Today, my fridge decided it would (in binary code) explain to me just how depressed it feels when the radio (which is on top of the fridge) won't talk to it. I tried explaining to the fridge that the radio is just a piece of electronic equipment, and doesn't have the capacity for independent thought, and certainly doesn't have a soul. We laughed about this for while (I laughed, the fridge clicked)and we cheered ourselves up by taking the piss out of the toaster, who then sulked and wouldn't talk to either of us for hours. Sometimes, I think I should get out more. But the fridge would miss me too much.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Break-ins and Time Outs


After a burglary and the dull days of organisation afterwards, my spirits are lifted by the arrival of a book in which some of my writing was included. The Book is called "Hang The DJ"(faber&faber) and it's basically a lists book, with people saying why they like certain songs, wrapped up in some tenuous idea for a list. But it'll please my father to see me doing some proper writing, instead of this music nonsense. The last few days have been an enforced time out while I pick up the pieces after the break-in, but it makes you feel for people in far worse situations than mine. I can't complain about one break-in in 21 years of living in London. I mean, I can... but I'm not going to. Plus it gives me a chance to sit back and listen to my latest songs, as I'm not in the mood to write. And I make a great discovery. Everything I've written is shit, and it's time to start over. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am now proposing we all burgle Chris Martin's house and see if his next album is better than the last.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

McRaeped Crusader


Someone invited me to the Batman movie. I throw on a jacket and walk out of the house without changing the clothes I’ve been wearing all week and without combing my hair, only to find that I’m at the premiere. Needless to say no one takes my photograph or asks for an autograph. Notice Christian Bale in a bad mood, could this be something to do with the fact he was arrested earlier in the day for alleged assault? Am torn between watching the film, (and were those vertiginous scenes necessary?) and watching Sir Ian McKellen with whom I can only assume is his nephew or his boyfriend. I am sitting next to Gandalf. Awesome.

Reasons why Damien Hirst is a cockucker#4012


Unless you have to face your own limitations as an artist everyday and try and overcome them, then you’re just an organiser. Damien hirst employs other people to make his “work”. Ipso Facto, and QED…Damien, you’re a cocksucker.

Next week: why people who use Latin inappropriately are also cocksuckers.

Crispy Realisations #802


Does it matter if lyrics are shit? Especially if you can’t hear them anyway, but the music sounds nice? Make reference to Bon Iver’s beautiful but nonsensical record…and anything by Radiohead ever. Emails of outrage and complaint to info@tommcrae.com.

Tom’s DIY tips:


When using cement, remember to wash it off unprotected skin immediately, and don’t let it dry on your finger tips, like I did. The resulting skin loss and pain stopped me playing guitar for days. On the upside, the patio looks great, and will be ready in time for the Autumn storms and indoor BBQ I have planned to celebrate my return to the states. A further note: only when skin has fully healed attempt the eating of salted peanuts and slicing of lemons for accompanying vodka tonic. The resulting pain stopped me drinking for days. I may be lying about that last bit.

Tom on the environment:


We're fucked.

Tom on the economy:


We're fucked.

Interesting things I’ve seen in the cemetery recently:


The other day I saw a woman rubbing stinging nettles on her shins. This being the part of London it is, I assumed she was mad and moved away quickly. Later, I thought maybe it was a remedy for arthritis or some natural medicine. Still later I wondered if the stinging pain took her mind of other more serious issues she may have. Much later I considered the fact that dock leaves grow next to stinging nettles, the poison and the remedy sharing the same small space. Much much later I thought about how nice my neighbour is, and what in terms of stinging nettles that says about me. And just yesterday I remembered eating the stinging nettle soup my mum made when I was a kid, although I maybe confusing this with an episode of ‘the good life”. In short, stinging nettles… they’re interesting aren’t they?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


This is me, with a fish I caught. I like fishing. It calms my fevered mind. Does this make me boring? Am I headed in the direction of all middle-aged musicians? I'll think about it after I've had my nap.