So- how was 2009 for you? Almost everyone I've spoken to on the subject uses words like 'awful', 'dreadful', 'terrible'... but it can't have been that bad- can it? And how about the last decade, the 'noughties' as they (whoever 'they' are) like to call it- any thoughts on that as a decade?
Here are a few thoughts on the decade's popular music- can it really have been this bad?!?
Well my decade ended with myself and the long-suffering Shirley watching a 'Tomb Raider' film and 'Jools Holland's Hootenanny' on T.V. (since you've asked I thought the film was good escapist fun whilst The Hootenanny was about as enjoyable as any show presented by the increasingly nauseating Mr. Holland can be...) which was something of a surprise to us both as I'd been expecting to be out gigging with Huggy's band as reported at the start of my last blog posting. So- why wasn't I?
Having helped arrange the gig for the band I'd been enlisted as guest guitarist several months ago; my friend Cliff is a member at the club and through him I'd got Huggy's band a gig there back in the summer which had gone well and resulted in them being offered the coveted New Year's Eve show. However since the last show at the club they had parted company with their guitarist/singer and had recently recruited a replacement who, being less than confident of his abilities to sustain an evening's entertainment without adequate rehearsal had asked a friend of his from another band to help out on the night. The 5 of us rehearsed on Tuesday evening and very good it sounded too; all agreed that with a bit of homework before the gig we should be able to deliver a good performance which, let's face it, is pretty important- not least because we were being well paid for the show.
So it was then that around 2 p.m. yesterday your humble narrator found himself in front of a computer with a guitar on his knee and (gulp!) Queen on the screen playing 'Now I'm Here' on YouTube. Having just about got the hang of it (and I guess I should admit here that despite my often-mentioned disinterest in the band's music this is a good song. There- I said it!) I was about to swallow what was left of my pride and attempt 'We Are The Champions' (which listened to now is every bit as boring as I remember it to be. Ah- that's better!) when my phone rang.
It was Huggy. He didn't sound too happy, and he got straight to the point. The drummer had decided that the money shouldn't be split equally between the 5 of us; rather that the 3 'real' band members should receive more, considerably more than the 2 guest players as they had 'done all the work' and therefore should be rewarded accordingly. I won't mention the actual figures involved but the maths of his idea meant that 80% of the money would be split between the 3 of them with the remaining 20% split between us 6-stringers.
Now- bearing in mind that we'd all be there for the same amount of time and all be on stage for the whole show, does that sound fair to you?
No, me neither. It didn't sound to good to Huggy but, well, that was what the drummer was saying. 'Let me think about it' said I, promising to call him back in a few minutes with some sort of vague plan... virtually as soon as I put the phone down on him Cliff rang to see how things were going; to say that he was disappointed with my reply is a strong contender for the understatement of the year or indeed the decade. He was LIVID. I don't remember the last time I heard someone sound so angry. In between the swearing he stated clearly- and I mean clearly!- that I was not to do the show under those terms which I must admit I'd already decided for myself. (Initially he was going to call the club to tell them to cancel the band altogether but I talked him out of that- maybe I should have let him!) In the meantime Shirley arrived home and heard some of our phone conversation; when I'd finished talking- maybe that should be listening!- to Cliff I explained the situation to her but before she could say much Cliff was back on the phone to say that he'd called the club and they'd put my 10% in an envelope with my name on it which I could collect anytime and to reiterate that under no circumstances was I to play the show. I told him I felt bad about taking money for a show that I wasn't playing- then again I'd turned down subsequent gig offers as I thought I was working so I guess it's a cancellation fee? His opinion was rather more forthright...
I spoke to Huggy again, and told him that I wasn't doing the show. He described himself as 'distraught'. He sounded it. I wonder how his drummer felt?
As I sat on the settee tinkering with my (unplugged) old Les Paul Deluxe Lara Croft's hair got burned- it had fallen into the black acid that Pandora's Box was floating in as she was suspended upside down above it. I'd never been paid for watching T.V. before- I looked at the clock and said something like 'they'll be playing now' to Shirley, 'I hope Huggy's alright'. Her reply of 'there's not much you can do about it now' summed the situation up- once I'd decided not to do the show it was all out of my hands- but I still hoped that Huggy was alright. We went through a lot together in The Price, and although the end of the band caused a rift that took many years to heal it couldn't detract from the fact that me and him always played well together and always play well together now. In an odd way it also seemed to sum 2009 up, a year which promised much but delivered surprisingly little when you think about it- I lost my work at Pro Music (remind me to tell you that story one day!) which coupled with a lack of gigging resulted in me nearly staring bankruptcy in the face (and with an income tax bill looming if I'd not been able to get some work at Balcony Shirts that might well have happened) which obviously impacted very seriously on the last few months in my little life- but that's nothing compared to some people's stories. Is it possible for a year to be 'bad'? A lot of people think that last year was!
I spoke to Huggy this morning. His verdict on the gig- 'we got away with it'. I thought he meant musically but I was wrong- he nearly rang me from the venue to try to persuade me to play after the other guest guitarist had threatened to walk out when he heard what had happened to me and what the drummer was proposing to pay him. He only stayed after Huggy and the singer agreed to chip in and give him some of their money- the drummer refused to give him any of his, but I bet you'd guessed that already. Nice guy huh?
Greed is funny stuff isn't? And people are really disappointing sometimes aren't they?
Happy new year y'all, let's hope it's a 'good' one...