Must see Rocketman. Can’t see Rocketman. Should I see Rocketman?
I’ve been meaning to see the Elton John biopic since it opened in the UK two weeks ago. The timing seemed perfect but I just couldn’t get the spare couple hours. I was too busy helping Eric clear out his mother’s house and then we managed to spend two nights in a nice Airbnb near Hastings, mainly so we could be somewhere with decent wifi to keep our tiny empire of records and shows running.
I got to see Eric’s wonderful sold out London show at the 100 Club (I think I got up and played a few songs with him and his able sidekick Ian Button, I’m so tired right now I don’t remember for sure!) Went to Brighton for the gig on his 65th birthday, I know I brought some gluten-free cupcakes and candles out on stage, but the rest is a blur. I remember checking into a manor house turned Hilton with a wedding do going on: men with shirt tails hanging, women in bare feet wrapped in shawls, everyone swaying through the lobby clutching bottles. I shamelessly told the Scottish desk clerk that it was my husband’s birthday and voila he presented us with drink vouchers so we got to join the crowd in the lounge and then out in the parking lot when some joker pulled the fire alarm. “The Britain the tourists don’t see,” said Eric. This is so us, I thought. This is our idea of romance!
Developed a raging eye infection just in time for my gig in Brighton and then flew to Sweden in agony. I know self-acceptance is supposed to be a big part of getting older and this may be the point where I dump my eye makeup forever, or at least til the swelling goes down. Thankfully this time it affected the eye I can’t see out of anyway. I think I’m starting to resemble Jack Nicholson in one of his crazier roles…
Malmo was lovely and I had a nice day with my hosts Mats and Zuzan, getting to have coffee and aperol spritzes in a garden, a rare chance to see the town I’d be playing in, usually it’s all glimpsed in passing “Look, there’s people, living life! What must it be like, to be sipping a beverage, laughing with friends, in this place?” (Sweden is dangerous, I find myself adapting my language to sound Swedish even though every person you meet there speaks perfect English)
I felt so happy after playing both shows, Brighton and Malmo. It’s the in-between times that are hard right now. I feel wracked with insecurity. Trying to keep upbeat and positive to get my book out into the world but seriously depleted of energy. I need to go on a diet, exercise more, heal my eye. My friend Karen made me go to the doctor in England and it seemed to help a little bit. Then there was more house clearing. On the plane back from England I finally watched Bohemian Rhapsody and cried so much the French guy next to me tapped me on the shoulder and offered me his cocktail napkin to wipe my eyes, or at least one eye. Then I made the mistake of watching the film about journalist Marie Colvin. I was drawn in by her glamour, the eye patch, the bravery of a war correspondent. By the end of the film I felt sure I was going to lose my eye too, not because of a selfless need to expose the truth and share stories of struggle but because I have a thing for eyeliner.
Maybe for the next time?
The French couple next to me asked “How can we get to this place, Jersey City?” From JFK? Ah, you need to get the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, take the LIRR to Penn Station and then get another train. Insane, right? I looked at their terrified faces and then remembered that was exactly what I needed to do to get back home and I was in danger of missing the last train upstate due to a flight delay. My eye was swelling up and I felt if I didn’t get a bottle of water before I got on the last train I would die.
There’s a spot in Penn Station where you line up for the upstate NY Amtrak train only. It’s the most bedraggled group in the station aside from the homeless population. People with bizarre luggage, ballcaps, a few haughty sophisticates. As I skidded to my place in the line and saw Hilton Als with his headphones on join the queue I was as good as home. I slept a few hours and went to the doctor.
So Rocketman opened yesterday in the US and I wanted to go but by the time the first showing rolled around I was too tired to get in the car. I’m going down to NYC today to open for Ian Hunter, it’s his 80th birthday shows at City Winery and they asked me and Eric to do one but Eric’s still in England dealing with his mother’s house sale. It will be strange to play for this crowd on my own, together Eric and I have opened for Ian, who’s a hero to us both, loads of times. A guy posted on FB “Amy Rigby is opening for Ian Hunter on Sat. Who is Amy Rigby?” maybe just innocently asking a question but giving the impression I had no right to be there because he hadn’t heard of me. I’d wear dark glasses but that’s Ian’s thing. With one eye I’ll stare the crowd down and say “I’m Amy fucking Rigby.” (probably not, I’ll likely shuffle my feet, duck my head and say something embarrassing. It’s my way. The songs are the sucker punch.)
Maybe tomorrow I’ll go see Rocketman.
The Ian Hunter show at City Winery tonight is sold out, but you can see Amy Rigby on Fri. June 7 at Dawson St Pub in Philadelphia and on Sat June 8 at Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair NJ. I’ll have genuine pop legend Wreckless Eric on bass & the also legendary Doug Wygal playing drums.