This can get somewhat out of hand. All I want to do is type nasty words. Usually my first reaction to a bad situation is profanity. And I am truly bummed. Yeah this is bad.
Today at 2:54PM, I learned that Tony Wilson lost his bout with cancer. Those four letters at the top couldn't have come out of my mouth any quicker.
I've never seen friend, family or foe afflicted with cancer. I've never felt that loss on a personal level. Frankly, I pray I never do. I can only imagine how terrible it must be. A life truly disappearing in front of your eyes. So in order for me to continue to put this loss in perspective, I have to constantly ask WHY? and sprinkle in a few "shits" or "fucks" along the way. That's how I deal.
Without further adieu - what the fuck is cancer? Seriously. How long has cancer been in existence? Why haven't we beaten the shit out of it yet? Listen, I'm not trying to strike a nerve here, but if we can grow a human ear on the back of a lab rat, I would think we can discover the cure for most of the body snatching agents that devour our loved ones every gosh darn day. No?
Oh sure, they try to tell me there's a Cancer Conspiracy out there. Who are THEY? Stay at home weird beards that sit in their skivvies, watch every episode of The Matrix, and eat Captain Crunch all hours of the day? You know...professionals. On paper [or the internet] it looks brilliant. Cancer is a BIG business man. It's a multi-billion dollar business to be exact - bigger than the porn industry. Bigger than Jesus. Wow. I guess it's very logical and reasonable to think that without cancer there would be thousands upon thousands of people without jobs. And so much money lost. So why not slow the discovery down to a snail's pace...right? And we'll charge an exorbitant amount of cash for the drugs that seem to help [or not] your fragile state.
Well the exorbitant priced drugs statement is true. But that's another messed up issue entirely for another time.
Like I said a few words back, I've never seen a real person with this disease but if photos count, there's no way in hell that that many professionals in the "know" would let so many suffer as a result of it. Would they? If so, we truly live in a fucked up world.
I didn't know Mr. Wilson. Wish I did. There are people out there in the music industry and beyond that I credit for much of my career. I guess you can call them heroes or idols or whatever. Their lives inspired me in some fashion to chase my love of music. Today's loss prevents me from telling one of them - thanks. Thanks for their accomplishments, influence and/or guidance.
I was thirteen when I first heard New Order (1983). Loved them. Props to my uncle for that one. He always followed the "hip" music scene back then and turned me on to many of the Brit bands that I still enjoy today.
I did eventually discover Joy Division for myself not long after. Talk about a total take over. When I bought the album Closer in the mid 80s, it engulfed most of my music discovery. I couldn't stop listening to it. Transformation city. I think that's when my dad became concerned with my wellness. A song like "Atrocity Exhibition" blaring from your kid's room would have any parent up in arms. Very dark. Don't even get me started on "Isolation". Stop/Rewind/Play. Stop/Rewind/Play. Stop/Rewind/Play. Spending countless hours in my bedroom listening to that cassette nonstop really kicked out a new beginning for my musical fascinations. I needed to know everything about this band.
Think about it, we didn't have the internet. We didn't have the media immediacy like we do now. We were left to our own devices. Rudimentary research techniques. You'd go the extra distance ONLY if you were motivated to learn more about your favorite bands. It wasn't easy. There was real work behind it. In some ways, I wish it were back to those basics. It seems like music meant more in those days when you had to work for it. Surely that was true for Tony and that was much of his M.O. He went the distance. That guy was obviously fueled by the passion and love of music.
Well I was fortunate enough to meet Tony Wilson at SxSW a few years ago. He was randomly sitting in the lobby at the Four Seasons there in Austin TX. Yeah I was star struck. No I am not a starfucker either. Although, I do admit that I get very excited about the prospect of meeting some of my so-called heroes.
Ironically, I was reading 24 Hour Party People: What The Sleeve Notes Never Tell You and decided I wanted to say hi and have him sign my book. I sprinted up to my hotel room on the sixth floor to grab it. Feet don't fail me now. In those situations, time seems to slow down so much. Damn. It felt like forever to complete this task. I was zoning. What will I say to him? What should be the first question? Should I even lead with a question? Maybe he'll ask me to sit down...have a real conversation. Shit, we work in the same business. This is gonna be cool!
I was trying to get comfortable. I even snubbed Lyle Lovett, who was riding the elevator back down to the lobby with me. A moment I realized AFTER my meeting with Wilson. My brain works that way. I was so nervous or maybe it was excitement.
Anyway I got out of the elevator, turned the corner and Tony was gone. He was not sitting in the sofa chair anymore. What the fuck! Dude I ran that shit in record time. My heart truly sank. It was more about the act of meeting him than it was about the silly little book. Why didn't I just go up and introduce myself first, then ask if he would like to sign my book later. Oh well.
I made a quick circle around the lobby just in case. No luck. But then, out of the corner of my eye I saw this tall guy in a long khaki overcoat styled jacket exiting the Four Seasons. It was Tony! I tried to calmly hustle my way after him. Something tells me that if I had security access to the hotel's surveillance cameras, my hustle and bustle would look completely ridiculous. Honestly, I probably looked like a big f'ing dork.
For a second, I almost backed out too. I really felt like I was forcing the situation at this point. It wasn't going to feel natural anymore. Uh oh...shrinkage! I'm bailing.
Wait. Should I call his name?
"Excuse me Tony...!" [ahhh there's my balls again...]
He turned and immediately greeted me with a suspicious smile, his eyes peering over the rims of his glasses. The same look I see in countless pictures, that sort of swagger or posturing. So cool and collected. It put me at ease pretty quick.
I showed him the book and he chuckled, "...where did you get this?" Sort of confused, I told him I picked it up on Amazon.com. "Ah yes", he said.
I was still confused. Is it not readily available? I didn't think it was a collector's piece. Was it out of print? Whatever. My head was so far up my ass, I was clueless to the entire conversation. I can't believe that I am standing face to face with THE Tony Wilson.
I'd be lying if I told you that we chatted for a few minutes. Literally, this encounter lasted no more than 53 seconds. Pretty damn brief. But he was so gracious.
I had so much I wanted to say, but instead I kept thanking him for signing the stupid book. I'M AN IDIOT.
Now I am pissed that I just relived that moment again. Shit.
Fuck you cancer! You took away another good soul. Could you be a bit more discriminating next time?
On a side note, I'm not a very religious guy but if you believe in life after death, wouldn't it be interesting to think that he is meeting up with Curtis, Gretton, and Hannett at some point??? What would they talk about? I do think about silly things like that. I'm hopeful that there is something exciting after we leave this place. It's hard to fathom that you just shut down. Your whole existence as you know it - your thoughts, memories, etc just vanish. YIKES. That's definitely another conversation. Maybe we'll discuss that topic over drinks. That's a drinking topic for sure.
Do I want to end this piece with the typical imparting of words that comes with these unfortunate circumstances? Nah. Again I didn't know Mr. Wilson. We all knew of him and his contribution to the UK music world - most importantly Madchester. He was important. And yes it is very sad indeed. To quote another Manc band's song, "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" is not so far off. His work will continue to inspire FOREVER.
Maybe I'll just leave you with the words that he left with me on that crazy day in Austin Texas...it may not make the most sense in this context, but in some ways, matched with Tony's wit and music ideology, these parting words hold true on so many levels in today's musical climate...
Rest in peace Mr. AHW