Thursday, December 17, 2009

me and the Church (part 2)

in 1987 Steve Kilbey released a solo record called “Unearthed”
on the back of the sleeve
it said “send faint praise” to a po box in Rozelle New South Wales
i painstakingly assembled a tape of material my brother and i were working on
i also wrote Kilbey a letter that tried to express how much his music meant to me
looking back on it all now my naivete is laughable and embarrassing
oh well, this is what over-earnest young fans do i suppose
if SK ever listened to the tape i can only imagine the gut busting chortle he got out of it
with my atrocious flat warbling burying any trace of decent songs
22 years later i’m not sure what i put on the tape
i only remember a song called “Unworldly” was on it
fitting considering it's subject matter

in 1988 the Church released “Starfish”
and had their 1st American hit with “Under the Milky Way” (#24 on the Billboard charts June 18, 1988)
i must’ve played “Starfish” a thousand times
i loved it
smart gimmick free music
these songs took you places with evocative words and guitar soundscapes
most everyone else in '88 was still fiddling with keyboard driven pop music
not the Church
in the summer of ‘88 my Mom loaded up the unreliable ‘80s Mercedes
hooked a u-haul trailer to it (making it a low-rider)
and bravely trekked across the state of Texas with 3 of her 4 kids in tow
the mission was to deposit F and i in Denton where we were to attend college
we left around sunset and drove all night because Mom was worried about the car over-heating during the daytime
i vividly remember listening to “Starfish” with headphones in the backseat
peering out the window and up at the starlit sky
imagining what life in Denton would be like
just outside of Dallas – near Weatherford i think
we tuned into a radio station that blared the following
“performing tonight at the Dallas Starplex – Tom Verlaine, Peter Murphy and the Church!!”
out of excitement i think i might’ve hit the roof of the car with the top of my head
it was August 20, 1988
we’d been up all night
a flat tire had slowed us down and made the whole trip take over 14 hours
we were delirious as we pulled into the dingy Stonehill Apartments
i was hell-bent on righting the wrong of missing the Church in Las Cruces 2 years earlier
i was going no matter what
although he was a fan too Faris didn’t wanna go
my Mom didn’t either
Miriam coolly agreed to accompany me
our Dad would have never gone for this scenario
but he wasn't there, was he?
Mom thankfully said "ok" so Miriam and i blindly set sail in the low-rider Mercedes
there was no Google maps back then
or GPS
we didn’t even have a map
how on earth we found the Starplex that night
i’m not sure
Dallas was massive compared to El Paso
it was exciting and overwhelming

the concert itself was a blur
the sleep deprivation lending sort of a surreal dream-like quality to my memories
almost as if it never actually happened
our seats were pretty far away
Peter Murphy played way too long
the Church not long enough
they wore vests and dressed in black and white
fans blew their hair back off their faces
Marty played the coolest assortment of Rickenbacker 12-string guitars
Steve played a dark green Fender Coronado bass
i was in bliss
at last i’d seen the Church live

a footnote:
i saw Kilbey and gang 1 more time after that
at the Bronco Bowl June 1, 1990
i waited around near the tour bus in the 100 degree heat
with my full MF regalia on
when the band finally emerged i conspicuously handed SK a Moon Festival cassette
and asked him if he'd mind signing "Starfish"
he smiled and said "yeah"
then glanced at the cassette and said
“you're one of the brothers from Texas! we listen to your cassette all the time”
and dashed off with a grin on his face


Blogger Daniel said...


8:46 AM  
Blogger Sander said...

I was at the Verlaine/Murphy/Church concert at Starplex too! It was a terrific show.

I thought Peter Murphy was amazing (I'd never seen a singer be so dramatic -- and still haven't), but he definitely stole some of the Church's stage time. (And some press -- I remember him being on the cover of the Dallas Morning News' Guide section, not the Church.)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Chuck Fensch said...

Great words and great memories, Salim

4:03 PM  

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