Rivers and Bridges

Rivers and Bridges

“When you first start out you’re always striving for perfection and then after some years reality sets in and you realise that you’re not going to get it. One of the things that’s so fascinating about an art form is that it may be good, mediocre or terrible but it’s not perfect, so when it’s over you’re constantly impelled to try another one because you suffer from the delusion that you can get perfection.

Intellectually, I’ve given up and I’m happy that the work is not an embarrassment. I start out thinking it’s going to be the greatest thing ever made and when I see what I’ve done I’m always saying, ‘I’ll do anything to save this from being an embarrassment.” So says film director and screenwriter Woody Allen and I absolutely relate to the sense that has come with his experience. It has been my experience too! Similarly the lingering disappointment also means that through never being even nearly fully content, I am also keen in giving it “just one more go.”

That would explain why last week that genius was creeping about Notting Hill in London working on yet another film project, while I in turn instead of heading out to enjoy the highs of Singapore, spent many hours chasing the complete lyrics to an evolving and spontaneous song idea called “Night Is The New Day.” That title incidentally was deliberately inspired by the ambience of those giant cities of Asia including Singapore that become hyper -dreamlike particularly at the fall of night.

As it happens it was a starry night and very sultry with it just this last Friday in Canning Park. Government House overlooked the grassy concert venue and stood as proudly as I remembered from our last visit a few years ago. Earlier that morning, while crossing the iron bridges that feature in the famous downtown marina area, I myself had also swelled with pride on noticing that the newly painted ivory coloured structures were in fact signposted as having been “Built in Glasgow 1843”.  Now, that is what I call real staying power!

Pride of course can come across in many ways and we are all au fait with the expression “Pride comes before the fall.” But I see nothing wrong in feeling that sensation while admiring the results of the sweat, toil and ingenuity of others. Made centuries ago and therefore without the benefits of much technology, these sturdy little Glaswegian wonders were worth every ounce of my respect.

But it was a different kind of respect that had materialised within me twelve hours later, as we walked up the small hill leading from the full on air conditioned dressing rooms to the swelteringly warm back stage area. The surrounding trees and plants that encompassed the venue were responsible for the exotic ambience that made you aware that you were in a different part of the world, and truly a very long way from home. With that however also came the fortunate feeling – and not for the first time – that our music, and indeed our whole story, had travelled further than we had ever really taken time to sit down and fully realise. That day will eventually come!

Not that there was time at that moment for any kind of extra considerations other than for the people who had been waiting sometime now for us to play. The moment had come for us to do just that and although I had felt kind of sluggish and kind of phased only a couple of hours before, with only minutes to go I now noticed a systematic change had occurred and that I was suddenly more than up for it! This I relayed to the rest of the guys standing close by. That is not something I would normally feel the need to do, but I had sensed Charlie’s eyes on me on this occasion, and as our intro music started up he approached almost as though he was keen on gauging my mood. In turn we had a short conversation that ended with us laughing quite heartily about something or other. We continued with it as we eventually made our way to the centre of the stage where from behind a quirky pair of sunglasses, given to me by the sweetest known person on earth, I had the chance to glimpse for the first time that night the obvious pleasure in the eyes of the audience surrounding the lip of the stage.

That was enough encouragement, and with a couple of practiced adjustments I instantly had my breathing just were I wanted it. All in perfect time too, as with the best of precision the bass sequence sprung to life, and the might of our drums kicked in powerfully as ever. We were by then already off on a musical trip for the night, and first up was a song that is symbolically about a river, the very same one in fact that had give birth to the city that those aforementioned bridges were built in.

Immediately it felt so good to be back playing live. I felt very alive. I felt at home!

Jim Kerr