John looked out of the window and allowed himself to pretend, just for a second, that he might actually go outside today. Then he poured another glass of vodka and popped another Valium.
He looked at the pill in the palm of his hand, unsure whether to swallow it or not. He knew he probably shouldn’t get too fucked up tonight, it was a big show in a city he’d not visited before. A new market, as his manager liked to say. He ought to try to make a good impression.
He made a mental note to check the name of the city before going on stage.
There had been a time when he’d have had someone to talk to. Back when he was in the band, they’d shared hotel rooms all the time. Now it was just so quiet, and he got so bored. The room was massive, but what was the point? You don’t need space to get off your face.
He scrabbled for his notebook and wrote that down. It’d make a good lyric. Another one for the guardian music critic to take the piss out of probably. But they’d talk about it, wouldn’t they? That was the thing. Every song on every album would be examined in detail in every newspaper, and certainly on every respectable music news site. His last album had spawned it’s own twitter hashtag.
All the clever people talked about his music, and to talk about it, they had to listen to it first. A lot of them professed not to enjoy that part, but they kept doing it, didn’t they?
It had all really got going when he got kicked ou– when he left the band. His first solo record had driven the musos mad with lust for him; they’d declared it the maturing of a true artist. They confidently announced that Date Night, the band’s only big hit, was far behind him now. With this bold new direction he’d re-invented himself as a poet for the 21st century. He told any journo who’d listen that he made half the lyrics up on the spot in the studio, and scribbled the other half on fag packets in the pub. It was the backing tracks, atmospheric artsy hip hop by a couple of young DJs his manager had found, that made it all sound deep. Of course this just made them love him more. That had soured after two albums, as it always does, but by then he was part of the pantheon. Whatever he did, they’d keep paying attention. He could put out a 40 minute album of farting noises set to polka and they’d talk about it for months.
he wondered what Barry and Jerry and Geoff thought. It must seem so strange to them; their rowdy idiot singer, who’d always been late to practice and frequently forgot the words on stage, worshiped by turtlenecked wankbags the world over for his artistic genius. They probably laughed about it.
The thing was, it kept the tickets selling, it kept him in fancy hotel rooms like this one; but it didn’t make any difference to audiences. Every night, in every city, it was always the same. He’d sing to the front six rows for an hour while the rest of the crowd talked amongst themselves and waited for the only song they’d really paid to hear- the same song he closed with every night, the only one that could get a response from the whole crowd.
He swallowed the Valium.