Friday, July 13, 2007

Europe 1989: Coming Home

One of Martin Scorsese's earlier films, 'After Hours,' depicts the adventures of a character played by Griffin Dunne as he tries to connect with a girl one night in NYC. He suffers a series of dreadful events, each becoming more and more preposterous, with his character ultimately ending up back at his starting point. Our '89 tour was like that movie in many respects, with our trip home being the crowning series of frustrations.

The image shown above is a reminder of this, one of the most difficult and frustrating episodes in my time with CbJE. It also will show that we could be airheads of the first order. I think I've mentioned in earlier postings how the second tour in 1989 left the band deep in debt, in spite of our playing frenetically with practically no time off for eight weeks. We finished up in December, just a few days before Christmas. After a difficult meeting with our management, record company and booking agency, we found ourselves deep in debt and learning what should be the first lesson for any musician: at the end of the day, the artist is the one who is financially responsible. After the meeting we headed out into the streets of London with this burden.

We were also very hungry, and at that point we had practically no money. Near our hotel was an "all-you-can-eat" pasta joint, and this seemed to be the best bet for our dinner. The waiter was astonished and annoyed that we ALL ordered water. ("What, d'you mean just water from the tap??" We did.) He was also a bit cheesed by how hungry we were. Seven large Americans can eat A LOT of pasta, and I think he saw the day's profits ebbing away with every additional plate we ordered. At least that's what I interpreted from his dirty looks.

The next day we headed to Heathrow. It was here that we realized that over half the band had lost their air tickets. Actually, we had thrown them away at the beginning of the tour, not realizing what they were. This was in the days before electronic ticketing. So, the image above is a receipt for the repurchased tickets. We were eventually reimbursed by the airline, but it took months for that to happen. The flight across the Atlantic was fine, except that there was another band on the plane who'd had a fantastic European tour and exulted in all the wonderful things that they'd experienced, including playing in Berlin on the night that the Wall came down. We were supposed to have done the same thing, but our gig was cancelled. If that weren't enough misery, Phil and Chuck also had to endure the indignity of watching a film starring Dudley Moore.

Also, our flight had been delayed for around four or five hours. An annoyance, but not a big deal, or so we thought at the time. Except that it meant that by the time we got to NYC, we had missed our connecting flight to Rochester. So we had to spend the night in a hotel. The next day we took a shuttle to the airport and boarded our plane. And waited. And waited some more. After a while, someone came on to the plane and announced that there was a problem and we had to change to a different plane. I remember Phil muttering "Oh for God's sake, we're never going to get home." Eventually though, we did.

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