Here’s the third instalment of my interview with Andy White. Not long now until, Andy launches Stolen Moments at the 2011 QLD Poetry Festival this weekend at the session, All Is Roar And Crash (4:00pm, Theatre Space, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts).
There are a number of poems in Stolen Moments, such as avenue B and 1925 that show the hardships of life on the road. How difficult is it to remain creative and connected when the exhaustion of touring kicks in?
This is one for my book ’21st Century Troubadour’ (published in Ireland I hope to bring it to Australia next year) which almost has the creative spirit of exhaustion as its guiding principle. The book is centred round an Irish singer-songwriter who travels the world carrying an acoustic guitar and accompanied by a bag so heavy it’s “currently showing up on Google Earth as a small island.”
It’s such a major theme that it spills over into the poems. However, poems are not perhaps the place for the kind of Dickensian hyperbole which most of these adventures require. They’re more for the moments in which the world caves in and you feel you’re being taken down in the process of this collapse. It’s a tangible feeling and one which most travelling musicians experience.
The fact is that creativity is more likely to come out of a scenario in which every nerve in your body is shredded from the schedule, the promoter is a crazed transvestite ruling his own kingdom with the help of a rod of iron and a smoke machine, the sound system is swimming in beer, the check-in girls at easyjet don’t want to let you off paying excess baggage and everyone in one particular LA shoe shop thinks you’re a member of U2 when all you’re trying to do is catch the bus to the next gig.
(Although I must say in passing that U2’s beshaded lead singer referred to me as “a legend” in an interview in New York last month. I wonder if he’ll ever read “o god let me die after bono”).
All of this is the real life glamour of the road. It’s tough, but it sure is sexy. It’s a big part of what I love about what I do, and it’s what people are interested in asking about. Something underneath the skin is what excites people. Everyone knows that the celebrity tittle and tattle is just that – concocted by a paid PR person in an office somewhere. I’d rather be on a Greyhound than in the First Class lounge. Though I wouldn’t mind stealing their sandwiches.
past second-hand stores
and dusty cafés
I saw the man
I once was
a coffee shop
leaning back in a straw chair
he glanced at me
just for a second
our eyes met
and I looked away
straining and sweating
keeping the wheels of
from falling off the kerb
the only way
nobody’s getting off this planet alive
declares the woman in front of me
to anyone who’ll listen