Sunday, 20 October 2013

June ’78

Cruella, meet Willie

Dina is terrified at the prospect of me returning to the lonesome road. She wants a man with a stable career and I don’t know where the fuck I’m going but I know I wanna go there. I explain to her that I’m back doing what I really want and appeal to her Greek nature by boasting that I’m getting paid five times more. That seems to appease her, for now.
The fact is, music writers are like footballers − we’ve only got short careers. None of us knows where we’ll be ten years from now and none of us really cares. Life’s just too good.
I’m easing back into the flow and slide on down into Mink DeVille territory where all the Pachookas are chewing Bazookas in the shadows tonight...
Wily Willy's with them, his skyscraper quiff bending in the breeze, his willowy frame winding down the alleyways, like a cartoon cat on a Spanish stroll.
Hey Willy, Willy DeVille.
‘Yeah, what is it, man?’
What's a Pachooka?
‘Hell, man, you don't know what a Pachooka is? Wow. A Pachooka is a guy who only cares about looking sharp, real sharp, on the streets. It's a style, man. A real style.’
He falls back into the black-leather sofa at his London record company clutching the remnants of a badly rolled joint.
And is he stoned, man. I mean, really stoned. Eight hours of solid interviews, eight hours of tinny lager, eight hours of pushing broom. Yeah, Willy DeVille's back after nine months of anonymity, holed up in a New York recording studio and hanging out with those Pachookas.
In this state he's no fun guy. He's bored with the questioning, bored with honeydew hacks shipping the same expressions, bored with the whole record company rumba. What he wants is sleep, man. What he wants is food, man. What he wants is for me to get the fuck out that little room in his Soho-based record company where the smoke hangs like portraits. Man.
But I ain't going. I’m a freelance now. I get paid by the word and I’m hungry for them. Okay, Willy, let's talk about clothes. Now, you're a real tasty dude, huh?
‘Y'know ...’ pause to pour a drink, get rid of the joint, ruffle his barnet and light a cigarette ‘... most people when they walk on stage dress up like hippies. They don't look cool and one thing you gotta be up there is cool. I mean real cool.
‘Y’know sumthin? I like to look cool on stage. I like to look like I'm going to a dance and at that dance I'm gonna jive with my chick. You don't ever want to look like a hippie at a dance.
‘There ain't no way I'm gonna look uncool in front of 6000 people man. No way.’
He looks down, almost dejectedly, at his feet. ‘So, anyway I can, I've got to look cool. Really cool. Real cool.’
Now, I don't know about you, but I get the distinct impression that Willy likes to look cool.
‘I've got some hot shantung suits, y'know Chinese silk, in black, canary yellow and peacock green. Real classy. They cost around five hundred dollars each.’
He takes a long hard look at me.
‘I like to get jazzed when I sing. I'm escaping from everyday life and I ain't afraid to say it. I take all those people sitting out there. I take them all.
‘Hey man − I heal them!’
Ever been to a rock concert, Willy?
‘I swear on my mother's grave, I've never been to one in my life. They're for hippies and I don't hang around with hippies. I don't want people saying, “Hey, look, there's Willy DeVille hanging out with hippies.” Hippies are lambs man. Lambs.’
‘Listen, man, I left school when I was fourteen. I had no education but I know I've got the power to do whatever I want. See, some people are leaders and some people are followers − lambs. Whatever you believe is real, so what you have to say to yourself is, ‘I wish I wish I wish so bad,’ and if you wish hard enough you'll get it.’
So you wished, Willy?
‘Yeah, but I wished for the wrong shit. I'm telling you, man, if I'd have been smart and made the right decisions I could have gotten out of this whole thing and got into something much bigger.
‘So I'm left with the lambs − and I love em cos they're so easily misdirected. But I’d do it differently if I could go through it all again.
How differently?
‘I'd be governor of Louisiana.’
A photographer laughs somewhere in the smoke.
(Willy continued to release albums − the last in 2008 was Pistola. He also wrote for movies and in 1987 he got an Oscar nomination for his song ‘Storybook Love’, the theme to the film The Princess Bride, which he performed at the ceremony that year −  not, however, while wearing a shantung suit. He died of cancer in 2009 aged just 58).


Next episode – Iggy Pop

© Barry Cain 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment


About Me

My photo
London, United Kingdom
I'm your Flexifriend blogger for all your Flexipop! needs.....