Henry Rollins: Fool For New York City
[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 am in the middle of a week of shows in New York City and living in the Soho Grand Hotel. Every evening, I walk an uptown mile to Joe's Pub, my place of employ, hit stage at 21:00 hrs., finish, eat and then walk back here.
The venue is located in an area where I lived on and off between 1993 and 1997. As I walk up Lafayette toward Joe's, my mind fills with memories. I used to occupy the Starbucks at Astor Place several nights a week. They had air conditioning and coffee, which gave me a break from my hotbox-from-hell apartment. A major part of my books Eye Scream and Solipsist were written there.
For me, NYC, music and my life are tightly intertwined. I had some of the greatest and worst times of my life here.
Sometimes when you meet a musician you are a fan of and he or she isn't the friendliest person, you walk away from the experience wondering if you will ever be able to listen to their music again. If that ever happens to you, try to allow the musician a little breathing room. Trying to write music, be in a band and keep it all happening is one of the hardest, morale-destroying, heartbreaking things you will ever try to do -- and that's when it's going well.
After an entire week of working in a practice room for several hours a day, I would spend the weekends walking for hours. I would go from the East Village to Carnegie Hall and back just to burn off the energy of my frustration and anger. I would come back to my apartment, be unable to sleep or write and then leave again and walk to Electric Ladyland and back and try to sleep. It wasn't the city that was making me angry, it was trying so hard to make music and feeling like a failure while doing it.
Quite often, the listener has no idea how much goes into writing songs, making records, touring, etc. Perhaps if they did, they might not be so quick to download the music for free.
The streets of New York City are hallways of music greatness. I walked by the Village Vanguard on Seventh Avenue a few days ago and almost stopped to salute the place.
Legends walked these streets. Walking by 315 Bowery, where CBGB's used to be, is very hard for me. I tried to go there a few nights ago but couldn't bring myself to do it, too many memories. When you consider all the people who walked into that place, from The Ramones to Suicide to Television, it's a shame it wasn't made into a historical site.