My friend and former bass player Matthew Seligman is living in Japan with his wife and little daughter Daisy. He has a band there that’s touring there right now and he’s writing a blog.
I met Matthew in about 1978 when he joined Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club. He’d recently left the Soft Boys. He introduced me to a guitarist/songwriter called Kevin Armstrong with whom he occasionally played. When BWCC broke up Matthew and Kevin became my first touring band, and they both featured extensively on ‘The Flat Earth.’
Aside from stints with me and Robyn, he also played with The Pretenders and the Thompson Twins, among others. And he co-wrote ‘Dissidents’, ‘Ability To Swing’ and ‘Neon Sisters’.
Matthew would probably agree that he’d be be completely nuts were it not for his music! I think it is the harmony of those four strings that keeps him comparatively sane. However he is the best barometer I have for whether my own music is on its artistic track or not. I’m sure we’ll work together again one day.
I should add one little anecdote. When Matthew visited me in LA around 1992 he told me of a town in Arizona called Seligman. It was so named after an ancestor of his that was Abraham Lincoln’s banker. Old man Seligman helped put the railroad though Arizona, so the locals named the town after him. Matthew had known about this town all his life and could point it out on a map.
Now, I’d recently attained my private pilot’s license so I offered to fly us out there in a 2-seater plane. I figured out we could just about make it in a long day if we left Burbank before dawn. We stopped for breakfast at Lake Havasu, overlooking London Bridge. Then we flew on towards Seligman, which my airport guide said had a ‘dirt strip with rocks and livestock.’ But my desert navigation was not too great (in LA if you get lost you just fly down low enough so you can see the freeway signs!) Our first attempt at a landing turned out to be in the wrong town altogether, though it was on the right railway line. Matthew got pretty sick in the turbulence. Eventually we found Seligman, and avoiding the rocks and livestock we set down close to the ‘center’ of town. We strutted into town, Matthew all in white like a saint that came from the sky.
We went into the only place open, a lone 50′s-looking diner, for some lunch. It was like something out of a David Lynch movie. A gum-chewing waitress with a beehive came over to take our order. Matthew pulled out his British passport and said ‘look! Look at my name!’ ‘Se-LIG-man?’ she said. ‘So?’ ‘No no, it’s SEL-igman. My great grandfather built this town!’ ‘Nah-uh… this here’s Se-LIG-man Arizona, honey. You got the wrong town.’ She took our order and left, leaving Matthew a bit stunned. Then slowly an old cowboy that was sitting at the counter swung round on his stool and looked Matthew up and down. ‘So you’re a Seligman, huh? Guess my great grandaddy knew your great grandaddy. Didn’t like him much, neither.’
Last month somebody told me they’d driven through Seligman recently, and it’s become a total tourist trap, with souvenir shops and a Wild West shootout reenactment. I’m getting to the age where places I once visited have changed beyond recognition, and it’s very disconcerting. Heading for the Scottish Hebrides next week, where Kathleen and I spent our honeymoon 18 years ago, and I’m just hoping they’ve retained some measure of their bleak charm….