I was just listening to Luna's encore from their "last ever show" again - from 13 years ago tonight. It sounded lovely even if it wasn't really their last show after all! I thought you might like to hear it too…
I kept asking myself, "How do you feel?" I should have felt sad, right? And I was sad, but I also knew I was ready for it to be over. We played "Indian Summer" for the very last time, and I thought, we're playing it for the last time. I had always enjoyed listening to Sean's beautiful guitar solo, the way he bent certain notes on his Jazzmaster. Tonight I moved stage left so I could hear it better. Then I counted down to the end, the two notes that go back and forth all through the song, and we were done playing that particular song, and launched into "23 Minutes in Brussels," which builds to a pounding climax but then falls apart softly and slowly. We exited the stage, and it was a relief to be walking upstairs, knowing that we would not be back the very next night.
Just a quick summary of my encounters with Damon & Naomi last week…
On Wednesday I headed off after work and trained and bussed my way to Dalston for Damon & Naomi’s show at Cafe OTO - their first time back there since they had to cancel a show after Damon had a fall two years before. Chris had arrived early and parked himself at the front of the queue which meant that when the doors opened and we were let in out of the rain we nabbed ourselves prime seats front and centre (well slightly Naomi side of centre).
Damon & Naomi’s co-conspirator for the tour was up next - Thalia Zedek was just her, her guitar and an amp that needed occasionally to be reminded who was boss - and Thalia Zedek was boss!
Damon & Naomi played a lovely set spanning a good chunk of their career for there encore they were joined by Thalia Zedek for a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love and an emotional take on the late Tom Rapp’s Translucent Carriages. Despite efforts from the crowd to lure them back for another encore Damon explained that they didn’t feel they should follow theior tribute to Tom and so spent the rest of the evening chatting with anyone who cared to and signing the beautiful tour poster they had for sale.
On Thursday I headed off after work and trained and bussed and biked my way to Shoreditch where Damon would be spending the evening chatting with journalist Laura Snapes about his book The New Analog and anything that came up in relation to that - the talk was gripping, Damon was articulate and funny and Laura helped keep the subject moving along and interesting and threw in some interetsing angles. The talk was close to two hours and never really seemed to lose momentum - the subject is so broad and affects us in so many ways it’s hard not to become engrossed. Afterwards Damon hung around and chatted and signed his beautiful book that they had for sale.
On Saturday we trained to Manchester for Damon & Naomi’s show on Sunday evening at the lovely and intimate Night and Day Cafe. This time the show was without Thalia Zedek as her and Damon & Naomi had gone their separate ways for a while (getting together again in Paris a few days later). Support came from dbh who played intricate and gentle acoustic guitar quite beautifully.
Damon & Naomi seemed to appreciate the venue and the relaxed atmosphere, everything seemed so good-humoured and with that came a fun and funny and thoroughly enjoyable show, very different from the more tense and edgy London show. They again finished with Translucent Carriages and the more relaxed atmosphere in Manchester gave the song a differnet energy that suited the room.
There'll be better and more detailed obituarys to Tom Rapp elsewhere on the web from people who knew him better, but he had an impact on my life and hearing of his loss I felt the need to write a few words.
Of course my first encounter with the music of Tom Rapp was via Damon & Naomi around the time of the first Terrastock in 1997. I knew absolutely nothing of Tom or Pearls Before Swine when the show was announced and the records were not so easy to get hold of. Luckily Bob on the Galaxie 500 mailing list was a fan and sent over a couple of cassettes of Tom and PBS. Shortly after the show Tom got in touch with me via email and sent me a recording of Damon & Naomi's set.
We only kept sporadically in touch - more often it was about Damon & Naomi and generally coincided with a Terrastock show. In 1999 Terrastock came to London - a last minute sceheduling change and childcare responsibilities conspired to mean that I missed Tom's performance and barely arrived in time to catch Damon & Naomi's set! But after the show was over Tom and I got chatting. I can't remember how, I think I'd been loitering around probably trying to catch Naomi's eye when Tom came over.
We chatted a while and the conversation eventually came around to Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music - a collection I was only superficially aware of. Tom suggested that I really should look into it further and it got filed away in my musical todo list (and you know what todo lists can be like?). A few weeks later, unannounced, a parcel arrived from the US. It was a beautiful box set of the 5xCD edition of the Anthology and a note from Tom:
Congratulations. You have won The Terrastock UK ticket stub drawing.
OK - Actually I have 2 of these - one was a gift - so now this one is a gift to you. Good to meet you at T3.
We only sporadically got in touch after that (I'm rubbish at maintaining relationships) - the last time I heard from him was when he emailed to thank me after I posted a 65th birthday tribute to him on this web site. I wrote back and said I'd send him a postcard. I really hope I did!
I barely knew Tom and felt like a friend and I feel his loss. My heart goes out to those who knew him better because they must feel it more. I'll be celebrating Tom's passing by playing some records. It's all I really know how to do. These will be amongst them…
A couple of years ago Jared from Austin band The Sour Notes got in touch with me before Xmas asking if I could plug their upcoming New Year's Eve set they were playing as Galaxie 500. I liked what I heard of the band and did what I could - not sure if my influence sold any tickets but I always like to pretend my influence is greater than it is!
The band have now been in the studio and recorded a cover of Galaxie 500's Fourth of July along with a bunch of other cover versions by artists as diverse as The Beatles, Patti Smith, Beyoncé and The Ronettes (and many more).
Last week Jared of the band got in touch with me and let me hear their cover it's rather lovely, he then asked if I'd like to premiere the track on A Head Full of Wishes…
I figured it'd be cool to premiere the Fourth of July cover through AHFoW, since we're all fans, doing it for the fans! I mean, I wouldn't be playing and recording music at this rate, if it weren't for that desire to achieve the sonic bliss I hear in bands like Galaxie 500. We're just showing our appreciation to the bands we love by releasing a covers album for free.
We got the idea to record the track after we learned and performed a set of Galaxie 500 songs a couple New Year's Eves ago at Hotel Vegas in Austin.
We had a few recorded covers sitting around, that we'd released as bonus tracks previously, and decided to record a bunch more to make an album out of it. I tried to make each cover a little uniquely-different from the original and ended up substituting Dean's lead guitar for analog synth. After picking apart every piece of this song from the original recording and even Galaxie 500 / Luna live performances of it… it still sounds as exciting and new to me as ever!
Listen to The Sour Notes cover of Fourth of July.
The band are releasing a new track from their covers album, This Is Not Our Music, each week - Fourth of July is out now. They have a stack of other great music to check out on their bandcamp.
This week Luna kicked off the next US leg of their ongoing 'reunion' (when does it stop being that?) and to coincide WFUV have broadcast the session that the band recorded when they were in NYC on the last leg back in November.
The set included the first public outing of their cover of Sweetness by Yes.
When you break up with someone you have to convince yourself that it’s really intolerable and really awful. That’s what you must convince yourself of in order to leave—you’re building that story in your mind—so it’s like watching myself do that. Looking back, maybe we should have just taken a break.
I finally got the nerve to talk to Dean after the show at LA2 in October 1997. He was really nice, he signed my ticket, and I must have given him my phone number because a few days later I got home from work to find a message from him on my answerphone. Obviously not being there to take the call was the best thing that could have happened, we were both spared an awkward conversation and I have kept that recording of Dean Wareham ringing me up. It’s one of my favourite bits of memorabilia!
The first time I was brave enough to talk to Naomi about Galaxie 500 was after their Terrastock London performance in 1999, and even then I left most of the talking to another fan who didn’t have the anxieties I had. But over the years things became much more relaxed
Luna aren't playing a sahow this New Year's Eve so there'll be no chance to hear their rendition of their traditional New Year's cover of Rock Your Baby - Luckily, as ever, AHFoW can come to the rescue:
I've never had an egg nog. To me Egg Nog is primarily a Luna tune, and secondarily some strange unknown seasonal beverage. This year I decided to make an egg nog! You can catch most of my egg-nogging as an Instagram story for the next 24 hours! Or just stay here, look at a couple of photos and listen to the aforementioned Luna gem.
I made half the quantity, because there's only three of us, and one of us (me) almost never drinks! And Felicity's recipe had a lot of booze in it - a mix of rum and madeira. Also lots of cream, lots of sugar … and of course eggs.
It's dead easy to make and is a beautiful, thick, creamy concoction and one ladleful has me feeling quite light-headed. Hazel's done her best to get through some but there's still a jug of it in the fridge!