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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The loneliness of the long distance songwriter

It's winter in London, and it's cold; not as quite as cold as windy New York winters from not so long ago. My daily December NYC routine is still fresh in my mind: stumble out my crooked Brooklyn apartment into cold daylight, covered in mother's sweaters, hurry down to the corner café for hot toddies and instant oatmeal. Two years later and not much has changed. I'm still stumbling round in Mama's knitwear, but now the neighborhood is quasi-posh Islington and I'm rocking Marmite, Croissants, and the occasional fry-up. The greatest disparity is sunlight.

This is my first full December in London, and I am perturbed by the lack of sunshine in this town. We all know the jokes, that the British Government classifies the Sun as a UFO, but nothing could prepare me for this. England is hardly Scandinavia, but I'm starting to wonder. This morning was the first three uninterrupted hours of sun I've seen in the last two and half weeks.  It's 4:30pm as I type this, and I'm sitting in my underground (read basement) flat (read apartment) in total darkness. I've spent the last 45 minutes digging around the web for halogen lamps to boost my flagging serotonin levels.
I'm exaggerating slightly, but it's silly how little Sun there is here. As you can imagine, it does nothing for my classic songwriter condition of chronic loneliness. I already find the winter months fraught with self-pity. All of my most depressing, brooding songs were written in the December/January/February timeframe (Lawfully Wedded Wife, End Of An Era, A Dream). At least in New York, I get the occasional blast of UV to keep me on my toes.  I find that when it gets dark in London, it's easy to get on a roll.

And rolling I am. Being an international superstar, I don't dive into darkness lightly. Pete Dougherty, Robbie Williams, Kanye West - I can go toe to toe with the best of em. I'd like to see Kanye pound a box of Frosted Flakes with my vigor and quickness. When was the last time Pete did 5 boiled eggs in as many minutes? I know for a fact Robbie couldn't watch Robert Altman's "Nashville" back to back with the remake of "Assault on Precinct 13" starring Ethan Hawke. Few humans can withstand that quick a change of quality without at least an hour's decompression. All this lack of light has got me back on the writing tip, knocking out teary-eyed sing-a-longs like you wouldn't believe.

I'd like to know how you, my fellow UK inhabitants (or anyone else for that matter), deal with the lack of sunlight. Please email your thoughts to I will post the best answers. Maybe I'll find a few new ways of coping.

1 comment:

subtitulo said...

how to deal with the lack of sunilght; go to a sunny place over the winter lol. that's all i can think of, im hating sweden's winters because of the lack of sunlight, i haven't seen the sun in weeks and i miss it terribly.. :( not one pretty day can we have............. *sigh*