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Fan Essays

by Lev

Here's my story, it's kinda long...

Part 1
Search and play back through the years:

In November, 1991 I was in New York, staying at my favorite hotel... the bartender was this guy Pete, who loved being a bartender... it was like the bar was his party, he was the host, he'd introduce you to whoever was sitting next to you, start the conversation, keep it going, visiting with everyone at the bar while doing the drinks, filling in stories whenever the conversation lagged, and one night, among the salesmen and commercial travellers, Roddy was there... he was working on Dreamland... I was chatting with the guy next to me, (Roddy sat next to him,) and occassionally Roddy would make a remark, sort of under his breath, (being shy, I guess) and the guy or Pete the bartender would laugh and repeat it, it was always some clever remark, or joke, something literary, usually, we all seemed to share a lot of the same literary references... it was fun... then we closed down the bar and went out with Pete to a night owl place, where we could talk a few more hours and play the jukebox, and sing along... so we played and sang and talked till about dawn, ... if I had been 15 years younger I would have been madly in love ... but life has had some great lessons, and I was in the midst of a profound and sad period ... in spring my sister had died, ... I had spent time in summer caring for a friend who died at Labor Day (early September). The first weekend of the month I had been in Chicago, visiting with a friend from college days who was in the hospital (another terminal illness) ... We talked about that, too. It was nice to find someone who seemed to understand those confused phrases ... I felt like his sympathy/empathy was a great gift. He was such a kind listener, as I must have been making little sense, except to someone who knew the same experiences or similar. The weight of sorrow/grief is hard to share ... my attempt at putting such experience into words was lacking, I'm sure, I'm not very articulate... but mostly we spent the time in conversation making jokes and laughing, rather than plumbing the depths and sharing sorrows... the next day he bought a new guitar, and played for hours, he said, all evening, I guess, just dropping in to the bar at closing time, his eyes were shining, he was glowing with the pleasure as he talked of having this new guitar ... it was Pete's birthday and we took him out for a bottle of champagne to celebrate... Pete had a great story about his previous birthday, when Bon Jovi was staying at the hotel ...

After I got home from my trip I picked up some Aztec Camera albums, and became a big fan of Roddy's musicianship and poetic lyrics ... he has a very special place in my heart, as well.

Sometimes you meet someone casually, and have that special rapport, a stranger seems as comfortable as if he is an old friend, and you pour out your heart without feeling embarrassed.

Part 2
Fast forward to 1998:

I live on the west coast, still love to travel, but haven't been able to afford many trips these days ... for the past few years I've been doing freelance work, mostly fun jobs, but not far from the starving artist class ...

In summer 1998 I had planned a trip to visit friends in Scotland, but got a job (8 weeks as assistant producer on a commercial) and had to cancel the plans. I promised myself to go the next time something fun was tempting ...

And then in September Michael (our most excellent webmaster) announced to the Aztec Camera mailing list that for The North Star album, Roddy was doing a special little intimate gig in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, on October 8 ... October 9 is my birthday, what could be a nicer party? I rearranged for my flight which had originally been planned for July ... and Graham was planning on making it to the gig from Edinburgh, we'd become acquainted through the email list. It seemed like such a fun adventure, off I went. The first 31 hours of the trip a blur of travel, flight to San Francisco, then to London, to Glasgow, train to Inverness, overnight in a little hippie hostel, early morning get on the bus to the ferry at Ullapool, then 3 hour ferry ride to Stornoway. I found a lovely little B&B with a terrific chef... had fabulous vegetarian dinner, did some star gazing (the meteor showers in Leo, as I recall) ... Thursday I visited the standing stones, took some photos, played tourist in the National Geo style landscape. Weather turned cold and wind came up, Thursday night, Roddy Frame played a special show in Stornoway.

I walked in a bit late, after Stray, the first song, (a favorite how could I have missed it?!) ... but just as I came in the door I heard Roddy say "Is there a Lesly here from New York?" I didn't hesitate to shout, even though it could have been someone else they were lookin' for ... so I ran through the crowd to join Graham on the dance floor, with a big hug, as though we were long lost friends, instead of total strangers who were only meeting the first time.

Roddy played a few bars of "New York, New York," as we hugged and introduced ourselves, and when he played "The Sea is Wide" he dedicated it to us ... of course we were incredibly happy.

We enjoyed the concert, had a few drinks afterwards, (it was Graham's stag-nite fling, of sorts, he and his flame planned to elope at the end of the month ... ) in the after hours lounge of the hotel where Graham was staying. It was another great party of a night, we didn't call it a night till 2. We met the gang that had come to the northern isles with Roddy for the show, and some fun locals, one Glaswegian who'd moved to Michael's stomping grounds of Chicago. Roddy dropped by to chat with us as well. It was nice he remembered me after seven years (of course neither of us have aged a bit!) Sweet memory.

These are magic moments, we shared this terrific evening in the gale and rain, and chatting with a guy we've listened to for years as a confidant, confessor, intimate friend, playing those songs that fit the moments in our life for each time we need them, in our living rooms, bedrooms, car stereos, setting a mood, offering a poetic lyric, setting our minds running ahead of our hearts, or behind them, sometimes ... this is getting too sappy, I'm gonna be embarrassed about posting it if I go on ...

Anyway, it was a fine night, I don't think I stopped smiling once. I'm grinning wide in all of Graham's photos of me, I'm sure.

But I guess the last thing I should say, for a shy person who can barely say five words without losing track of her train of thought, embarrassed at proving to be the cultural stereotype of the dumb blonde, more often than not ... this was too cool ... having this entourage of guys in their fine form, racing into the lulls in conversation and jumping from topic to topic like puppies frolicking on a summer's day, from song lyrics to philosophical questions, it was one of the funnest nights in recent memory ... I would gladly travel 10,000 miles again anytime to enjoy such good company ... please don't ever talk yourself outta doing something wild if it is where your heart is at the moment, you never know if there will ever be another chance.

Be true,

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