“I love you darling, but I won’t sell your merch.”
These were the words in my head before watching Eric play his Brighton show, the first one out of his many dates in Europe and the UK and even the US that I got to see last month.
In my mind I’m a haughty bitch, six feet tall in a fur coat with a car and driver waiting outside the venue.
In reality I can’t help it – I’m still an eager fan, thrilling to the sight of a guy I see every day: sipping espresso, fixing stuff around the house, reading in bed or even working out next to me on a treadmill at the gym. He’s the one I tell “hey slow down, it’s a thirty mph zone, not seventy” and “Look at this new Adam Sandler movie I got out of the Red Box!”
It was eleven years ago that Yo La Tengo had The Shams, my old girl group, play one of their Hanukah shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken and the extra special guest that night was Wreckless Eric. Even though I’d met him five years before in Hull and thrilled to his early Stiff records, I’d never actually seen him perform before. He sang some of his songs plus Paul Simon’s America and I thought he was one of the greatest performers I’d ever seen, and have always kicked myself that I didn’t go see him at those famous Bottom Line shows back in the day – I saw nearly every show back then.
He was so great in Hoboken I went the next night to the Lakeside Lounge to see him play a solo set – that’s the part in “Do You Remember That” where I pushed in through the crowd and he was turning his amp up loud. We were both in complicated situations at that time and that was that. The next year we weren’t and we’ve been together ever since and hardly performed solo since – it just went that way, “let’s form a group!” and “we’ll move to France together and play covers in bars!” and “maybe we should make a record” and on and on.
“Will you be getting up there with him?” I knew there’d be those questions if I was standing around in clubs or towns where he and I have performed together for almost a decade now. It’s touching that fans who were suspicious of me back when “who’s she and what’s she doing here?” now consider me part of the picture and vice versa with my fans and Eric. We’ve worked our way up from curiosity, WTF to institution!
And there are no rules (thank God) for how to handle these things when it’s time to go solo. How sad to have missed hundreds of special nights playing together because it would be too awkward to figure out not playing together. So we blunder through and do what we want. No, darling I won’t trek all the way up to Scarborough with you. No darling, I won’t sell your merch.
He played and I had tears in my eyes for most of the show. I couldn’t help it, when it was time for Whole Wide World, I pumped my fist and shouted along with the rest of the crowd. I felt proud, I felt humbled to be a part of his world. I hoped I’d get to come back and play Brighton myself but that was for worrying about another day. I stood with friends I’d made from playing here and we were in the presence of a legend and the gig was awesome, as were the other two I saw on this tour.
As he was finishing up, I saw the box of records and CDs just sitting there on the table by the exit – what? Nobody set up the merch? Oh hell.
“Get your LPs and CD’s right here! That’s right mate, fifteen pounds. Take two, there you go.” He’d do the same for me.
Amy Rigby solo house concert Peacedale Rhode Island Fri January 8
Homemade Aeroplane Catskill, NY (Eric & Amy ride again!) Sat January 30
w/Schoemer Formation Brooklyn, NY Barbes Sat February 6