I told Laurence that I am calling last week “Legends of Music Week”.
It’s funny how things always come in bunches. Last Thursday we had the pleasure of being invited to a friend of ours’ house for a party. Some of the guests included Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby, Bruce Hornsby and Christopher Cross. It was not a very large party, in fact we were among the only ones there not involved in the present tour. It was an elegant affair in every way. The place was beautiful and the food was incredible.
But the music....ah that was what set it apart from most get togethers. When the guests began picking up instruments and jamming, the magic sparks began to fly. And it was in interesting combinations, too. Bonnie Raitt on Drums with LJ on acoustic. Jackson Browne and Laurence trading licks, Christopher Cross on electric. It was delightful. At one point, Bonnie Raitt came over to me and said, “Hope, you play the Congas”. I began to protest....having never in my life played the congas... "but I...." She would have none of it. “you have red hair....you can play the congas, just do it.” So....I played the congas while she played guitar. I wasn’t too bad, either, who knows, perhaps a new career?
I joked with LJ later that having “played percussion with Bonnie Raitt,” my resume could stand up to many pro musicians. We had a wonderful time, and I was proud so as I watched Laurence dazzle everyone with his guitar work.
At one point David Crosby approached LJ and asked, “Who are you? And where did you come from??” Laurence gave him a brief answer and he had a sudden flash of recognition cross his face... “Oh!! You’re that guy!!” He exclaimed. I guess Laurence is that guy.
Laurence and Bonnie were chatting for a while and she complimented his time, and his use of altered tunings. Then, Jackson Browne came over and they all talked guitar tunings.
At one point I was speaking to Jackson Browne and I finally got the courage up to mention that this night was not the first time we had met. He looked at me curiously... "Oh? Have we met before?” We had, a few times. I mentioned the Taylor Guitar concert where backstage I was present with Leo Kottke, Doyle Dykes and the much-missed Michael Hedges when Jackson and Laurence jammed on a very cool impromptu version of “Let’s spend the night together”. “Oh yes! “ He remembered, and he said that he had enjoyed that. But...I admitted, that still wasn’t the first time we met. “Oh?”
When I was 19 years old I went to an outdoor music festival. I was there by myself, and I was sitting on a blanket, eating a peach. Jackson Browne came along, said “Hi” and sat down. After a moment he asked for a bite of the peach. We sat and talked and shared the peach. Then he had to go. That was the first time we met. Though I knew he would not remember, having been a few years ago. He laughed and said that it did sound like him. He asked where the festival was and I really couldn’t remember... "somewhere out near Canoga park or Agoura”. I said. He thought for a moment, then said “Yes! Topanga Canyon! It was in the Theatricum Botanicum.” “ That sounds about right”. I said.
I was surprised he even remembered the festival. The encounter had meant a great deal to me, being a Jackson Browne fan....I had actually kept the peach pit, filing it smooth and using clear nail polish to preserve it. I still have it, somewhere, to this day.
What an extraordinary night, but if I thought that was the end of it, I was completely mistaken. The very next evening was the listening party for Paul McCartney’s new album “Run, Devil, Run”. We took the kids and headed over to the House of Blues. After a predictable, yet ever-annoying process of getting to the attention of the “right people”, we were taken up to the lounge area.
It was awe inspiring. We took the kids aside...”Look over there, freeze that in your memory” we said as we pointed out Paul in deep discussion with Brian Wilson, but the kids were a bit distracted. Gwen Stefani, of No Doubt, was talking to a guy, and Nico and Ilsey wanted to meet her. This is where Ilsey showed her true colors. She has absolutely no fear. She walked straight over to Gwen, dragging Nico along with her, and introduced herself. The guy Gwen was talking to, Rod Stewart, also got a handshake from Ilsey and for some reason Ilsey and Rod seemed to have a lot to talk about. I was amazed, by the end of the evening Ilsey and Rod had been chatting away for so long, they were like old buddies.
We spent quite a while talking to James, Paul’s son. LJ and he discussing guitars, as he is developing into a guitarist, himself. He is also very cute. A fact that did not escape my two teenage daughters. “Hot” I believe was the term they threw about most often. A very sweet guy, just genuinely nice.
When Paul spotted Laurence he came over to him with a big, warm hello and a hug. It was a lovely moment as they greeted each other. I was happy to see Paul looking very relaxed and healthy. It has been such a devastating time for him, and after seeing him so drawn and despondent at Linda’s memorial, I was relieved to see that he was doing alright.
Nico mentioned to him that upon meeting Linda seven years ago, she decided to become a vegetarian, and she hasn’t touched meat since that moment. Paul was very touched by this and gave her a big hug.
We spent some time chatting about the new album, which sounds really good. And after a while, more people came into the lounge, all of whom wanted an audience with Sir Paul. No problem for Ilsey who went back to her old pal Rod. She then decided that she wanted to meet George Benson, so she casually walked over and introduced herself. I have never seen a thirteen year old kid work a room like my daughter, Ilsey. Even her older sister, Nico was impressed.
When we got home that evening, Ilsey asked if Rod Stewart was “really famous”. I explained that yes, he was famous, kinda like Mick Jagger is famous. I mentioned some of his hits, but she stared at me blankly. I went to the video store and picked up a tape of Rod Stewart performing a few songs in concert. It was made in the early eighties and Rod was wiggling his butt, clad in extremely tight leopard skin pants singing “Do You Think I’m Sexy?”. Ilsey watched it, then looked up at me with an expression of utter horror. “That’s your best buddy.” I joked.
The next night it was on to the PETA event. A very big event it was, too. Very impressive on the Paramount lot. The food was great, but it was easy to fill up at the beginning, without realizing that it went on and on. We were too full by the time we reached the end, to try some of the entrees that looked wonderful. I felt bad for the people stationed there. Nobody had room for their food.
Laurence donated a guitar lesson and some CD’s for the silent auction and we were surprised that after only 2 bids, somebody had bought the prize by circling the guaranteed bid. It went very quickly. We will see who calls for the lesson. He opened up another sheet and donated another lesson.
The event itself, well, you probably have seen the reports, or read reviews, or will watch it on VH1, so I won’t go into detail, let’s just say it had some sad, touching moments, some funny moments, some lovely moments and some truly horrifying moments.
We had a brilliant view of the concert stage and enjoyed the performances immensely. After the B52’s sang, (at one point with Chrissie Hynde and Sarah McLaughlin singing back-up) and Paul did his 6 or so high-energy rock ‘n roll songs we headed backstage. The security guards were particularly obstinate and even when James McCartney insisted that the guard let us backstage, one guard steadfastly refused to budge. Somebody insisted. “This is Paul’s son!.. He says you have to let them in!” The guard grunted “I don’t care who he is....NOBODY gets in!” Another guard standing next to him looked at James and looked at us....Then said quickly “I care...let them in!”
Once again Laurence spent some time with Paul. I was surprised to see Paul looking around. “where is Hope?” He asked. I came forward. “Ah! Come here baby!” He said as he pulled me in for a warm hug and kiss. “Well, we are gettin’ to be regular visitors, aren’t we?” He joked. (I am still amazed that he even knows who I am.) We spoke for a while longer, LJ mentioning that his latest album “Altered Reality” was, in fact, dedicated to Linda. Paul seemed extremely moved by that, and commented on how hard it had been to go on and talk after the excruciatingly beautiful and heart wrenching version of “Angel” that Sarah McLaughlin had sung live to the slides of Linda with Paul, with animals, and alone. We agreed. It was hard to watch, even for us. After some more time talking and reminiscing, we left and returned home.
It had been three nights in a row, and we were pretty exhausted. If we go to one event like that a year, it’s a thrill. But three in a row....well I have to admit I was on a bit of a celebrity overload. Now it’s back to work as we begin the next album.