I wish the salon would come back into social fashion. I don’t mean beauty salons. I’m referring to the social gatherings that used to take place in Italy and France in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. A prominent person would invite writers, artists and intellectuals into their home to amuse, refine tastes and increase the knowledge of the guests through conversation. Last Saturday night I had an experience that was something like what I imagine the salon to have been.
My friend Kevin was Lou Reed’s band leader. He organized a tribute concert and invited me to attend and participate. The concert was great. It was filmed and I’ll post a link for you to check it out in a few days - it’s just being edited now. But for me, the best part of the night was hanging out in the green room backstage, talking to all the other guests.
The first person I saw there was the great songwriter, Ron Sexsmith. Ron has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and he also knows a lot of jokes. He made me laugh and he made me think.
After speaking to Ron for 15 minutes or so, the actor Kim Cattrall came into the room and sat down with us. She was a good friend of Mr. Reed’s. We exchanged stories about him. We also talked about the movie Mannequin, which was one of the most mind-blowing conversations of my life. Ms. Cattrall told me my hair looked good and suggested I undo another button on my shirt.
Next I spoke to an amazing man named Dave Somerville. He was the co-founder and lead singer of a vocal group called The Diamonds. They were one of the most popular groups of the 50s. Their biggest hit was a song called “Little Darlin’”, which was released in 1957 and was later featured in the movie American Graffiti.
Dave is the greatest! We spoke for 30 minutes or so. He told me so many great stories. In 1957, he was part of a mega-tour that included Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers and others. Dave and Buddy Holly became good friends on that tour. Dave told me all about how fun and sweet and talented Buddy Holly was. He also told me that he (Dave) now lives in the house that was used in the 80s TV show, The Fall Guy! Holy cow, I loved that show! I loved Lee Majors (the Six Million Dollar Man) and I LOVED Heather Thomas (va-va-voom!). Dave invited me to the house next time I’m in LA. There’s no way I’m passing up that opportunity. I hope Diamond Dave and I are friends for a long, long time.
Next, I caught up with Carole Pope. Carole's band Rough Trade had a big hit in 1981 with “High School Confidential”:
Carole and I recorded a song together a few years ago. It hasn’t seen the light of day yet. Hopefully, it will soon. Carole is the real deal. She’s such an inspiration as a person and a performer. I absorb as much from her as possible whenever I see her.
After getting caught up with Carole, I had the chance to talk with Commander Chris Hadfield! How often do you get to have a one-on-one conversation with an astronaut?! We talked about him using the International Space Station to shoot a music video and what NASA and David Bowie thought about it.
I also asked Commander Hadfield about his rehab after returning to Earth and his life since. I kicked myself afterwards, because I meant to talk about his video about crying in zero-gravity…
I thought he’d be interested to know that I made a song called “Tears in Space” space a few years back. I would like to have spoken to him about the artist Yves Klein. Hopefully I’ll have another chance one of these days. Commander Hadfield was very nice and very cool and very easy to talk to.
My friend Andrew was/is a member of Broken Social Scene. Now he has a band called AroarA.
Andrew is one of the most well-read people I know. We gave each other book recommendations and talked about the psychology of solitary confinement, about our culture of excess and about babies.
Emily Haines of the band Metric told me a joke but I didn’t quite hear what she said so I didn’t laugh and things got momentarily awkward. She was the last person to record with Lou Reed.
I spoke with many more interesting and beautiful people. Then I performed with Lou Reed’s band backing me up. What a night. It was such a great show and I can’t wait for you to see it. But the best part was being amused, having my tastes refined and my knowledge increased through conversation. I wish I could have a night like that every week. Let’s bring back the salon!