Stop you in your tracks² – "Empty Pages"

>“For me, a great rock song is a good tune, plus some inspired irritant – a shout, a noise, an enigmatic line, a raucous solo.”

John Pareles – now the chief music critic of the Arts section of the New York Times – wrote that when he was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone in the 1980s.

I clipped it and it’s stayed on my pinboard to this day.

There are songs that – when I hear them – I instantly know where I was when I first heard them. They’re indelibly linked to the taste of the air or the person I was with or the taste of the coffee or the record store I subsequently bought the album from. Or. Or. Or

Tracks that literally stopped me in my tracks

My “Stop you in your tracks²

#4 in a series of n

January 1991

This was the first terrorist crisis. Flights were EMPTY. You have absolutely no idea.

Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, the hot (air) war had started, Scuds were zapping Tel Aviv and the jihadists (although they weren’t called that back then) were threatening to blow up commercial aircraft.

Passengers stayed away in droves.

Frank and I had a Revenue Management road show trip planned to Atlanta, Miami and Dallas to convince the regional sales organisation that it would be a Good Thing if they would have absolutely NO SAY in future as to which traffic was accepted (and which wasn’t…) and that this BIG MACHINE with flashing lights and Artificial Intelligence and other good shit that we were building in Frankfurt would be a LOT SMARTER than they were.

So we front up at the airport 3 hours before the flight for the “enhanced security procedures”.(Sound familiar….?)

20 minutes later we’re at the gate. And the place is deserted.

So we pretty much survived the stoning and lynch mobs in Atlanta, Miami and Dallas (mostly by lying and telling them “Of COURSE you’ll still have control over your sales. That will NEVER change”) and the excessive hospitality from people who were figuring “Shit, we’d better be NICE to these guys. They appear to be BIG SHOTS”

(This was the trip on which Diane told us what MARTA really stands for – Moving African-Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta, Feli told us what Pontiac really stands for – Poor Old N…… Thinks It’s A Cadillac) – I’ve never claimed that this place was even VAGUELY politically correct – and some bird in the bar at the hotel in Dallas (who had Frank picked out as The Target For Tonight) came across with the lamest pick-up line ever:

“I always thought Germans were darker” she said

“No, that would be Africans….” I said ” They’re certainly dark. For sure”

Laughing was unkind, I know, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t get it anyway.)

So we get to Dallas airport absolutely stuffed – we’ve only been away for a few days, still jetlagged to hell, spent all the time in airplanes, hotels and offices, you’re presenting and on edge all the time dodging the stones and lying to the lynch mobs, all that hospitality, and to top it off we’ve come straight to the airport from having been out with Schnookie’s big sister Feli and her Texan husband Jerry (which is ALWAYS too much fun than’s good for you) at a Mexican restaurant – so all I REALLY want to do is get on the flight and fall asleep.

Except someone knows someone and – all of a sudden – we’re in First Class (which is all very nice, but they just don’t leave you alone) and the crew’s all over us with “Can-I-get-you-some-champagne-and-what-would-you-like-for-dinner-we-have-the-usual-7-course-menu-with-caviar-to-start” and we’re quoting Little Feat with “Haven’t slept for a week, my shoes feel like a part of my feet”   and “Look, it’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but we’re just so bloody tired. Can we please just sleep?”

I honestly thought that they were going to cry.

They’d been away from base for going on for a week, this was their 4th flight and we were their VERY FIRST passengers.

So what do you do?

Settle back with a glass of champagne and some caviar, slip on the Sennheiser headphones and … BANG….

I’d had it as a vinyl since it came out, but I’d forgotten how truly great it is.

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