Henry Rollins: The Column! Alone in My Man Box, Listening to Al Green
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
I came back to Los Angeles a few days ago with 32 shows behind me on this tour, in England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
I arrived with a fair stack of records from shops in many of these countries. I was excited to listen to excellent-condition vinyl of Boris, Jackie-O-Motherfucker, Kobi, Bong, the Jesus and Mary Chain, David Bowie, Cosmic Jokers, Brigitte Fontaine, My Cat Is an Alien, Ashtray Navigations and others. Then there were the ridiculous stacks of LP and CD mailers waiting for me at the office of records by Saint Vitus, KTL, High on Fire, GHQ, Electric Wizard, Earth 2, Acid King, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Coltrane, Nadja, Takehisa Kosugi and many others.
I was in the great position of being spoiled for choice. I was also on jet lag and massive obligations of press, studio sessions and other tasks. All this mixed with the inability to get more than a few hours of sleep at once made the five-plus hours of press at a time a very trying experience.
Try as I might, I was unable to sit down and listen to any records for more than a side because I was too tired and had a lot of other things to do. For the most part, all this great music sits unplayed. I just didn't have the juice to pull myself up to the level required to hear all these new sounds. There oughta be a law mandating protected listening time.
This ritual of returning from tour with hours of new sounds and not enough sleep to check it all out is nothing new. This has been happening to me for years. I have found ways around it. There are a few bands whose records I am so familiar with, they feel as though they are from my DNA. These are the ones I play. They are so close to me, I almost can't hear them as they are; instead I hear them as if they are the sound of air going in and out of my lungs.
For years I would come off the road back to my utilitarian body-storage unit and immediately put on the Jailbreak album by Thin Lizzy. It was how I de-accelerated and caught my breath after going at high speed in a very pressurized environment. The songs on the album, all of them perfect, became one long song, a meditation, if you will. That was the first phase. As it got later and jet lag brought with it the usual dose of depression that hits me when I slow down, it was time to deploy Al Green's Let's Stay Together album. That one would get, minimum, two plays before it went back on the shelf. This was my ritual for years.