Being a stand-up comedian is a lonely job. Being a 48 year old stand up comedian is even lonelier. Even you don't want to hang out with you. But the loneliest I've ever felt doing this job was one Saturday night in Liverpool last year. I remember it well because it was the weekend that The Stone Roses released their long-awaited comeback single.
I love The Stone Roses, and by that I mean that I love The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses. It's a truly great album made by ambitious, fiery, artistic, free young men. Their follow up album was nothing compared to that wonderful, trippy, angry first album and over 27 years since its release. It's all of The Stone Roses that matters. The second album could afford to be terrible because that debut was so superb. It has carried them all this time and anything else they do wouldn't matter unless it was as good or better. To say the least, I was excited about the first Stone Roses music in 22 years.
It was fucking appalling.
Of course it was. How could it not be? Their second album proved that they'd run out of inspiration, what made me think they'd get it back over two decades later? I'm an idiot. It's called All For One and if you haven't heard it then you've got the luckiest pair of ears in town. "All for one, one for all", whines Ian Brown. "Let's join hands and build a wall", forgetting how difficult it is to build a wall while you're holding hands. What did you use to put the bricks on top of one another? Your knob? It's fucking, fucking, fucking, fucking awful. I just didn't "get" it. What happens to all that fire in a young band's belly? How can four men be so full of artistic vision and then release that drivel? I just didn't "get" it. I just didn't "get" the new Stone Roses single. I don't know where that vision went and I don't "get" the new Stone Roses single and then I started thinking about my own life.
I was listening to All For One for about the eighth time and hoping I'd "get" it while walking alone from the gig in Liverpool to the train station. I still didn't "get" it. And I also didn't "get" what had happened to me.
When I was 18, I was in a band. We were a cover band. Yes, that's right. A cover band. Not a covers band. Cover. One song. That's all we knew. It was a cover of Walk This Way by Aerosmith. Walk This Way by Run DMC was incredibly popular at the time but we decided to go for the less popular Aerosmith original. We did four gigs, sometimes performing Walk This Way up to three times in a row. Of course, we were much more ambitious than that. Of course we were. We were young. We didn’t just want to do an Aerosmith cover for the rest of our careers. The band started to write their own music and I wrote the lyrics. Then I was asked to leave because every one of my songs was about masturbation. It was literally all I knew.
That band could have gone somewhere. But then I moved to London and suddenly discovered art. I gave up on the band too easily but art was something that I could really devote my life too. I would be a painter. I genuinely had my heart set on it. But then I just went to the pub instead. It’s the same with that play I didn’t write. And that film I didn’t direct. And that book I didn’t… No. I just haven’t written that yet. But I will. I will. I should do.
And I thought all this while walking alone late at night in Liverpool. At 48, still doing the clubs alone and travelling alone and thinking about that ambitious young man I once was and listening to the new Stone Roses single. I just didn’t “get” it. Then I broke one of my own rules. I pissed in the street.
I left the venue after drinking the regulation comedian’s amount of lager and now desperately needed to wee. I absolutely hate the idea of weeing outside. Don’t know how people do it. But, I was desperate. I knew it was wrong but I went under a very dark viaduct and pissed.
Junkie needles lay all over the ground as I pissed. This did not make me feel any better. How did that young leader singer… that artist… that playwright… end up alone, under a viaduct at midnight, pissing near junkie needles? What would he think of what I’d turned him into? I made him middle-aged. I made him alone. I made him piss on junkie needles.
As I thought all this, I used my piss to move two of the needles together so that they formed a V shape. Then, just above the needles, I pissed two half circles side by side so that the V shape and the piss half circles made a heart. I really did this. In real life. I stood there under that viaduct and thought about getting fired from the band and not painting and not writing my play and I was old and alone and I was shit and really, really… what have I done with my life? I made a love-heart out of piss and junkie needles.
And that’s when I finally “got” the new Stone Roses single.
For more record reviews, listen to the Vitriola podcast with Robin Ince and Michael Legge on Soundcloud and iTunes. https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic