I saw him perform on television, at a cool jazz festival a few years back. A giant of a man, singing Autumn Leaves, with an almost eerily sincere voice. When I finally got to meet him, it became obvious that his gigantism wasn’t limited to his physique.
He told me that after the third time he went to yoga class, by the age of 56, he had lit a fag, and apologised to himself for all his anger. He had previously embraced the thought of premature death, but a series of events led him to pick up his old diary, and revisit his past life to figure out where it all went wrong.
We goofed around for a bit, making faces for giggles. I played him a couple of my tracks. He liked the timbre, he said.
Danny. He grew up in France, in the town of Cognac. He told me that almost everyone he used to know back home was an alcoholic. I guess it makes sense. He moved to Spain in the early 90s. He made a living as a stonecutter in this lovely, picturesque village. Early morning, going up the mountainside for an hour, cutting a rock, then carrying it down to the village again to sell it. Repeat. He had been doing this for some time when he managed to buy a bar – his very own rock bar. He loved rock and roll; fitting for a stonecutter, I thought. I told him something about my musical ambitions, but we never really connected on that subject. Kids music, he said. I agreed.
Idealism, Vol. II LP
Released in December 2016
So this is Arturo Rhodes, a surrealist painter I met in Spain. He used to live in London during the swinging sixties, talking in this wonderfully fermented British accent; frequently using words like “groovy” and “psychedelic”. His voice had this dark resonance, sounding unbelievably friendly. He told me he had stayed in Stockholm for a while, way back in the 80s. He lived there with his former girlfriend on Birger Jarlsgatan. He was hoping to visit her again sometime. I insisted that we should visit Gröna Lund, if we ever got the chance.
Then he told me about this recurring dream, always ending with a black rectangle. By then we were rather drunk, so it’s all a bit fuzzy. But it had something to do with Kierkegaard, I believe. Very groovy indeed, Mr. Rhodes.
Ok, this one has a special place in my heart. I was total a mess when we met. I was doing a show in Norberg, and we both stayed at this vacant psych ward, due to a lack of hotels. She told me she used to “chase butterflies” when she was a kid. She explained that it meant lying in bed, staring at a lightbulb, then closing your eyes while watching all the colourful feedback bounce around your inner eye. I remember thinking that it was the most staggering metaphor I had ever heard. I used to do this myself when growing up. Never had a word for it though.