Monday, May 12, 2008

Bitter wine

Jon stood shaking, slightly, rubbing his palms on his jeans to relieve them of the sweat that was cold and clammy. In his years of performing never had he been this nervous. As the crowd calmed from the last song, Jon drew them all in again as a lone spotlight shone centre stage illuminating his stature to the strong crowd from the longish blonde tresses that were swept back from his face, down to his pointed black boots he was ready. It was the final song of a night that seemed to go on forever.

Richie caught his eye and nodded to encourage him, he really was going to do it. He was pleased as it was more than time, and this was the one way he knew he could get Jon to deal with his emotions and put this shit behind him, through his music. It had gone on long enough and was starting to affect all realms of life around him, and he knew it.

“Ah this next song is a song I have just written and it’s about …someone….”He stumbled and straightened the cross pendant on the leather thread and pulled the shirt that was hugging his body down. Jesus, what was happening to him, he was a professional front man, and he had sung many a song that was relevant to his life before, but this time it was different. The hurt and betrayal still ran close to his heart. Richie took the queue of his friend’s uncertainty and started the opening chords of the song.
Jon stood to the mic and closed his eyes, he delved inside and unlocked the vault of his heart where his hurt lay and began the verse.

We met some time ago, when we were almost young
It never crossed my mind to ask, where did you come from?
I didn't have much money, so I stole you a rose
You were dressed like an orphan, in Salvation Army clothes

She had been Jon’s last love, they had met when they were young, and she had been there for him through it all, through the struggling garage rehearsals at the beginning, to the bar gigs where a handful of people turned up, to the full blown superstardom of the Slippery When Wet Days, she had been there. The days when things were simple and the days when things were down right complicated she’d been there. For better for worse.

Once you were my inspiration, but, that river's run dry
what was once holy water, tastes like bitter wine

She was once the reason that he breathed, and once the reason that he wanted to be successful so he could give her everything she wanted in return for all the days when they had nothing but each other.
Jon kept his eyes firmly shut, he was reliving it now, vicariously through the song, every beat of his heart and every pore in his body began to seep these words.
David looked over at Richie with a questionable eyebrow raise. Richie nodded, it was ok, and this is what Jon had to do. Never had any of the band seen Jon like this, he always drew in the audience, but this time it seemed like it was just him and an audience of one. Her absence right now didn’t matter to Jon, he was still telling her, every note, and every lyric. It was all for her.

Jon breathed, almost hearing it echoing around the stadium before continuing, he hadn’t moved his stance and his eyes were still firmly shut. The audience was dead silent as he continued.

I know I wasn't funny, but you laughed at all my jokes
When I was choking on the words to say,
You showed me your finger down my throat
The first night I said I loved you, you told me to go to hell
You were giving me head, on that creaky,
Old bed at the Ol'Duvol Motel

Jon cracked a small wry smile to himself at he last two lines of the verse. That night still embedded deeply in his brain. The night that he knew his heart belonged to her, but she hadn’t been so quick to return the sentiment. They’d made love several times that night at the Ol’Duvol Motel and murmured sweet nothings to each other till the sunlight came up the next morning. He had told her he loved her, for the first time and she’d not returned the sentiment saying it was too soon.

Jon was no angel in the early days, he knew he had been a prima donna asshole most of the time, but as fame and fortune came there way he learnt what was important, and that was having those who you loved around you, as no matter how famous and how rich you became you were nothing without people to share it with that you loved and trusted. And you were nothing if you didn’t appreciate where you came from. But he had never expected this to happen, never in a million years.

He had relaxed into the song now, his voice deep and rich with conviction as he sang on with his band accompanying him every step. His hands had moved and wrapped around the mic stand holding on as if for dear life and his arms began to shake slightly

A lone tear slipped down his cheek. Falling helplessly to the stage below.

’Holy Shit’, Richie thought watching Jon, he was in his own world, the emotion coming out of the man at the mic stand was like a force field the crowd and they were buying every second of it, not a whisper could be heard out there.

Just like everything, even good love has to die
Ain't no sympathy when it says goodbye

She always knew the right things to say to Jon, no matter the mood he was in; she was his salvation, his light in the dark when all other lights went out.
Until the night he asked her to marry him………it was time to lay it all on the line.

Your love was my salvation, it could always get me high
What was once holy water, tastes like bitter wine

He as sure that she would say yes, they had discussed the future so often and in the early days, the “When I make it big, we will have this... and be able to do that..” was a constant conversation that kept their passion alive, his passion alive knowing one day, he’d provide and give her everything she’s every wanted in life. Unconditionally. What a crock.

Just like everything, even good love has to die
Ain't no sympathy when it says goodbye, no one even cried
We were one of a kind, one of a kind

She denied his marriage proposal and it that’s when it all became crystal clear and the cracks of their so called undying love started to show. She had been seeing someone else, for a good portion of the time they were together. She had found solace with someone else in the Jersey days, her way of coping with Jon’s depression and anxiety instead of having the decency to be honest with him; she’d fallen in love with someone else and broken his heart along with his soul.

Jon hadn’t cried till now, he’d buried it but it always had weighed heavily on his heart. The tears escaped one after the other, falling relentlessly to the ground below. His eyes still firmly closed. The passion and determination of the man and this song had the crowd in awe and on the edge of their seats. It felt so good to be finally grieving for the love he had lost, he had been so angry since that time and he knew that he had let himself be consumed with the logistics of it all instead of dealing with it. It hadn’t been till last week when Richie finally bailed him up in his hotel room.

Jon had just lit a cigarette and stared out his balcony window to the skyline of the city that stretched for miles. Another city and another show. He sighed until he was disturbed by his door opening and slamming, Richie storming in.

“Fuck Richie, ever heard of knocking?” Jon asked standing up to meet his friend.

“Depends Jon, ever heard of not being an asshole?” Richie snapped.

He’d watched his best friend crumble after she’d dumped him, he’d watch him have no regard for everything they had worked their asses of for, he’d watched him treat their fans like shit and just ten minutes ago when Jon pushed past a bunch of fans swearing at them for getting in his way, Richie had decided it was enough, Tico and David had been wanting to mention it for weeks, hell months, but Richie had convinced them it was a phase and he’d snap out of it. But enough was enough.
Richie shoved Jon against the wall, like brother they had fought over the years but seldom did anything turn physical.

“Jon, listen to me, you are killing us all here, you’re killing everything we worked for and burning everyone that has seen us through to this point, I know you are upset and you are angry, but you are not taking the rest of us down with you” Richie sneered, the anger in his eyes firing all cylinders. Jon read his friend loud and clear.

“I cant do this anymore Rich, I just cant” Jon wavered, Richie’s eyes turned from anger to compassion in a matter of seconds as soon as he saw through the shield of Jon’s blue eyes to the hurt he could see right down into his heart that was exposed and full of hurt.

“You can Jon, you can get past this. And you know how you will get past this, as I will be damned if this bitch is going to make you throw away everything you and I have worked hard for, she is not worth this Jon, she is not worth your pain” Richie snapped as he grabbed the guitar in the corner of the room, a bunch of pens and the hotel complimentary paper and thrust it all at Jon.

“Write it, write it, sing it and bury it” Richie said before turning on his heel and slamming the door hard. His voice still resounding in Jon’s mind.

Jon had stared at that blank paper for over an hour, and then it had come, it had come so fast and so furious he couldn’t write and compose fast enough.

Richie watched on, the admiration in his heart was overwhelming, he felt every note that had come out of his brother’s mouth and every tear that was sliding freely down his face. He was so proud Jon had done this. This is what it was about, what their life was about, their love for music and storytelling, and their ability to touch the masses.

Goodbye baby….. Its over.
Jon thought to himself as he breathed in for the final verse.

Love left me stranded at the station,
And the last trains gone by
What was once holy water, tastes like bitter wine
Your love was my salvation; it could always get me high
You take the back holy water, now all that's left is bitter wine

Jon opened his eyes glassy from his tears as he stared out into the crowd, his cheeks stained with the past, the hurt. It was over. He felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
He was free at last.

The crowd erupted, the applause was thundering. The band all exchanged knowing smiles as Jon bowed to the crowd and as he walked past Richie he punched lightly out a clenched fist which Richie returned with his. He was back.