Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cover of the Week 78



Buffalo Tom and Teenage Fanclub in Spain, circa 1995-96



I have always loved Teenage Fanclub, Glasgow's favorite sons. It is one of those bands that every guy in Buff Tom loves. Both bands got started around the same time. I think we predated them by about a year with our first record. I was smitten by the first listen of "Everything Flows," the first number off their debut LP, A Catholic Education. Of course, I later wrote about the song at Allmusic.com. And now I cover it here.The song is an ecstatic guitar-pop orgy. I give it the sparse 2-acoustics treatment. Not sure if it is a worthy tribute or not.

Around 1995-96, we hooked up with TFC for a double headline tour of Scandinavia, Germany, and Spain. This picture is taken in Barcelona or Madrid at the end of that tour. My wife, Laura, had come to join us at the end of the tour for a holiday we would take after the wrap, something we often did before the kid arrived. She probably took this photo.

After the last show, we spent a day in Madrid and then bid adieu to the rest of the Buffalos and took a train back to Barcelona for our vacation. We got in around dinner and after checking into our very nice hotel, went out and enjoyed a great late night Spanish meal, followed by some glasses of port and went back to the hotel to crash. We got there just after the stroke of midnight marked Laura's birthday. The next day was to be sightseeing and the real birthday celebration dinner.

Sometime during the wee hours of the morning, I woke up to hear a crash in the bathroom. I went in and found that she had fainted, something La had done once or twice in the past. It seems that waking up in the middle of the night, plus the jet lag and port (something she had never tried before) had conspired to make her dizzy. But this time, she had fallen and was bleeding slightly from her nose.

I got some ice and we were awake for dawn. She seemed fine, but her nose had swollen. So we decided to get it checked out once we got dressed and had some coffee. We asked the concierge or desk person if they had a doctor to recommend. He directed us down to a "hospital clinic." We figured we would zip in and get out in time for an early lunch.

Instead, we ended up spending the whole day, waiting in lines for tests and bandages. The language barrier was not making it any easier, despite what I thought was my expert high school Spanish. Never mind my poor verb conjugation, I could not even find the correct nouns. It is a wonder they did not amputate her nose or arm.

They never asked us for insurance or payment, I recall, but we had to wait for hours in lines at this particular spot. I have no idea if it was indicative of the medical service in general, but at some point we were waiting in a garage next to parked ambulances, in back of someone in a wheelchair.

But they seemed to care pretty deeply, hence this absurd battery of tests, X-rays, and consultations. They wanted to know why she fainted, and I could not explain beyond "muy cansado y bebe porto. Por favor, podemos ir?" A young doctor wanted to re-set the nose, which La probably only allowed because he was so handsome. And then he told us he wanted to place a cast on it.

"No!" cried Laura.

"Pequeño," he said, making a small sign with his index finger and thumb.

"He's saying it will be a small one," I translated.

He proceeded to place this ridiculous plaster that covered her whole nose. As if that were not bad enough, he fastened it with two strips of white adhesive tape on the top and bottom, above and below her eyes, in some facsimile of a weird tribal mask.

She was crying. Worst birthday ever. Back in the States later, our doctor friend told us there was absolutely no need for a cast. We were beaten down, hungry, and cranky when we finally decided to skip out and escape yet another line waiting for who knows what. It was almost dinner time, way past siesta. When we finally got out of there, I was able to at least tear the tape down to a slightly less glaring length. But the day, the whole trip was sunk. La felt so self-conscious walking around in this stupid mask-like apparatus, she was in a little pain, probably hungover, and really just wanted to go home and hide in bed -- not the hotel, home. But she soldiered on. We have pictures of each other at all the Gaudi sites.

We ended up at a famous restaurant in the Gothic Quarter for dinner. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I tried to sneak away to the baño and whispered to the waiter to see if they had any "postres por cumpleaños." Once he understood what I was trying to lay down, he motioned for me to follow him.

"Uno momento," I asked, but he walked briskly as I followed him down serpentine stairways, through various dining rooms, even through a kitchen, and finally out into the street. At this point I was freaking out that La would be wondering where I was. The waiter pointed to a bakery across the street and then turned and left me there in the street.

I went with it. I ran in, though down some pesos, asked the dude to write "happy birthday Laura" on a small cake, snappy. I ran the thing back in and handed it to the waiter and hurried over to the table. I was panting. I have no idea what bullshit excuse I supplied, something about getting lost, I am sure.

I have never seen anyone look the way La did that night when the singing and guitar-strumming waiters came over with the cake. She was simultaneously pissed, embarrassed to have everyone looking at her, and only sightly appreciative that I had tried to make the lemonade out of the lemons. It was more of a shaking of the head at how hapless and graceless my attempt was at salvaging the day, coupled with her mortification. She just wanted to write off the day and slink out to dinner as under the radar as possible. I only wanted to have a little cake to mark the occasion, but somehow I ended up booking the Gypsy Kings and ended up making this big deal. I still don't know if this ended up helping or making things worse. Actually, I am pretty sure it was worse.

But now we have one of those stories that the kids like to hear.


Everything Flows mp3

8 comments:

Carlos said...

Hey Bill,

great story...i am pretty sure you guys remembered as a good day now.

I was there in madrid in one of those concerts and I can say that probably was one of the bests I have been. It was perfect two of my favorite bands in the same night!!!

And what is more exciting is that you continue to do records, I cant wait to hear your new stuff. Also TFC are releasing a new album soon.

All the best,

Carlos

Tom said...

Hi Bill,

My favorite band and Teenage Fun Club playing together!!! I hope you return to Spain shortly... Is it possible?

Have a nice day,
Tom

Randy Reichardt said...

.: Bill, I've been so busy I haven't had time to comment on recent CotW entries, and I feel bad about that. So I took time to download this great tune and read the even better backstory about Laura's birthday in Spain. I suspect she remembers what you did as the exact opposite of hapless and graceless, but rather the perfect example of true love. Sounds like the perfect subject for a song, don't you think?

REALLY looking forward to both shows in NYC in a month.

wsxwhx716 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Bill Janovitz said...

Randy, no need to apologize, really, as there's no need for you to reply to all posts! But thanks for all the kind words and thoughtful comments.

Paul Daddario said...

Bill:

Great version of one of my favorite songs, timely as well as they were huge Big Star influenced Chilton Devotees.(obviously, they have an album entitled thirteen...)

I came to your blog for a couple of reasons, one, (1)I am obviously a huge BT fan, (2) Its cool to here inside stuff on the songs and happenings of one of your favorite bands, and (3)the opportunity to interact, be part of a fan base, ask questions and give support.

I have to say, the music is great here, but the writing is really good as well. I know you have successfully written music criticism and commentary, but you should be a columnist either in the arts or travel.

Your Spanish Holiday story is a funny, romantic, bittersweet minor tragedy and slice of life. Good stuff.

I apologize in advance, and I swear I only do this for the coincidence of it, but here goes. I may have mentioned I was in a band, and BT is one of my biggest influences, albeit a contemporary influence. I wrote and recorded an acoustic song for my band, Farmertan, called Spanish Holiday. My wife says that I ripped off Buffalo Tom (in style not content) most notably in this song. I know you are busy so if you don't listen or comment I understand. Here's the link.

http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/439948

sorry again, but cheers,

Paul

Mr John said...

Hey Bill, greetings from Australia

Delighted to find your blog again after a few months. Extra delighted to scroll through the CoTWs I missed to find a cover of a beautiful TFC song - aren't they all?? Huh?
I discovered both BT and TFC around the same time - Big Red Letter Day and Thirteen featured massive in sound tracks from my early 90s on so I bought a guitar which I still play awfully.
Keep up the good work Bill, rock on.

John

Matthew Tomich said...

your travel stories are just as bittersweetly beautiful as your covers.