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Upstaged: Tower Of Song

Flashback to Montreal when I jumped on stage with Jerry and Milo jumped on stage with me…

It all started with a haircut. I was getting my hair cut at Jerry’s salon, two doors down from where we were staying with JF’s family in Montreal. Donovan was singing in the background and I was in good hands.

Me: What about these white hairs? Would normal people be doing something about them?

Jerry: Don’t start with all that. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. Always assess white hairs from a distance in dark lighting.

Satisfied with this game plan, we moved on to talking about Leonard Cohen, as you do in Montreal. Turns out Jerry was not only an excellent hairdresser but also an excellent musician. Turns out Jerry was playing Porchfest the following weekend — a festival where, as the name suggests, hundreds of shows happen on people’s front porches. Turns out Jerry was playing a set of Leonard Cohen songs on his very own front porch. You can see where this is heading…

Sure! Sure I’ll sing something with you. Tower Of Song? Sure! In A? Sure! We’ll switch off verses? Sure! Attempt the strange bridge together? Sure! No rehearsal needed? Nah!

And so on a sunny Saturday morning in Montreal I washed my hair (we have a reputation to keep up, Jerry said), stepped out the front door, walked up and down the street enjoying Balkan folk singers and swing jazz trios, and then jumped on stage to sing Tower Of Song with Jerry and the band. Except I wasn’t the only one to jump on stage. The proof is in the very badly edited video footage…

For those of you in Montreal, you can find info about Jerry Torres, his hair salon and his upcoming shows here!

Like you’ve just stepped out of a salon… (Remember that 80s jingle?!)

And while we’re on the subject of haircuts, I’ll leave you with a short excerpt from a novel I am sometimes working on. This scene is set in a hairdresser’s in London. I hope Jerry approves.

Ruby finished brushing the stray hairs off the back of Dylan’s neck and swivelled him round, handing him a mirror. The vantage point reversed. That was always Ruby’s favourite moment. She never allowed herself to really check out her clients until she'd finished a cut. When they first sat down she would take in the shape of their head, how their hair fell, where it receded and the way the hairline curved. Their ears. She looked at their features only in relation to the face as a whole, their borders and prominence, countries on a map. She didn't zoom in until her work was done. Only at the very end, when they were busy examining the back of their head – concentrating on their hair rather than staring nervously at their own reflection and pulling mirror faces – only then did she dare to stare. Steal a moment to really take a good look at the colour of their eyes, the freckles on their nose.

Dylan's new haircut brought out his handsome. Good eyebrows, she noted. Really good eyebrows. And cute dimples, one bigger than the other. She didn't see him as the slightly chubby-faced teenager he was leaving behind, or think about whether he might age well. She saw him straight, as he was, right then. His skin looked bouncy. She imagined pressing in his cheeks and watching them spring back out. She imagined running her finger along his lips until he caught it between his teeth. She had the urge to run her hands through his hair again, ruffle it all up. She tried to push away her thoughts. There was a glint in his eye, but a humility too, so different from the sarcasm of her friends and the blasé talk of her clients who’d seen it all before. London hadn't weighed him down yet, that was what she saw.

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recordings & videos of other people's songs
Lail Arad