The Queen and Cleo and You
Today, the Queen is lying in state at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I am thinking about my old flat on Victoria Street which is a long stone's throw from there.
Here is a photo from a session with Chloe Dear. We were at Waverly Train Station in Edinburgh. These were waif years of busking in squares and in front of closing pubs at night, singing and playing guitar and recording with a guy and his partner who had a recording studio and a plan to get a deal with my music.
I don't think we thought much about the Queen. I was a vegan then and lived on cigarettes and pints of lager, tins of beans and toast. Dreamt of something bigger and better. A record deal.
When you live for a dream, you burn your energy in one direction.
I have known plenty of people who are anti-Monarchy, but it's been said that the Queen has become so pleasantly bland, it is almost offensive to say anything mean about her. She had manners, and she kept a handkerchief given her by Mahatma Gandhi. She answered all correspondence. And William and Harry called her "Granny."
It's been said that the mind cherishes happy memories and blurs on the more tragic events. Through this weird world history, we've lived through the terrors of 911, The Gulf War, the endless war in Afghanistan, Covid, Climate Change, January 6th and deep political division.
Still, the traditions roll merrily on, even as the world changes.
The ceremony around Queen Elizabeth feels like a beautiful distraction, even in its sadness. The pageantry. The things that must be done. Some would argue that none of this is really "civilised."
It's just a way of preserving Empire which might be associated with colonialism and the horrors of the First World exploiting the Third World for all of its resources. And this, we know, is ongoing.
When I found out about the Queen's passing, I felt sad. I cried. I watched the TV specials on the history of Queen Elizabeth. I didn't want to analyze or think too hard.
I suppose, if I were still on Victoria Street, I would be someone queuing up to get into St Giles Cathedral to pay my respects. Seventy years of being a Queen has to count for something?
And now, in my own world, well past the busking days, I prepare to release an album I made with Fernando Perdomo. What can be said? I wanted to work with Fern, and I wrote an album with him in mind.
But really what I was writing about was living in Los Angeles. Because here, too, I have memories. I have lived in North Hollywood since 1998, and have surely seen and felt many changes.
I have lived in LA longer than I have ever lived anywhere.
Maybe you have lived here longer than you thought you would? Did you come here seeking one thing and end up doing another? Did your dream modify? Did it come true?
Who is Cleo September? She's a walking bumbling free spirited but nervous person. She's a survivor. She finds it difficult to trust. She is a loner. She is passionate about music and people and historic places. She gets upset when old houses are torn down and superblocks pop up.
Really, truly, though, Cleo is an Angeleno. She has become one. Maybe this is you, too.
Arriving with that suitcase, full of dreams, full of hope, thinking that this city would unlock for you who you really were meant to be. Many come, many leave. Some of us have stayed. Endured. Who are we now?
That question is one the Queen cannot answer. She stayed within her boundaries. Coming to Los Angeles means leaving those rules and customs behind, often. Finding your way, your tribe, your income, your IDENTITY.
So, from across the sea, I salute the past, ceremonial and beautiful, tawdry corrupt even. Imperfect.
I prepare to release something new which will reflect so much on what Los Angeles has meant to me. And I hope to see you, feel you, be with you, as Cleo has her moment.
Whatever the old, the new moves on and into our hearts.
Please join me, be with us at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA. Friday November 18, 2022. 9pm.