this is a photo of the contents of my fridge here in the desert. it is a sign of the times where i am able to ingest good clean cannabis without smoking it. i have to say, at 55 i prefer a clear head for 99 per cent of the time,but on holiday i’m happy to loosen up a little.
smoking weed was something that was inextricably linked to my songwriting process for decades,but about ten years ago after a bit of a health scare,i gradually learned to write songs with a clear head,and i feel my work made a bit of leap forward because of it…especially in the writing of lyrics…my singing changed too…i started leaning towards a purer tone,and because i’m no longer smoking,i’m now able to hit higher notes cleaner and with less effort.
i grew up in that annoying generation that mythologised drugs. musicians were given blind credibility on the back of their drug intake,and so i felt smoking cannabis was steering me towards creativity,and on many days it definitely was….but the body becomes immune to that druggy little trick,and before you know it,you’re pigging on joints but not getting high anymore. i never smoked socially…i’m not terribly social at all,so getting high was mostly a solitary experience for me,and that can get a little dangerous…you can happily vanish.
around the mid eighties to mid nineties i lived in a farmhouse out in the wilds of northern ireland.it was six miles to the nearest town,which was fairly isolating cause i don’t drive a car.the logic behind this set-up was i could live cheaply and do music without embracing some miserable job or disturbing any neighbours. one of the things that made it feel workable was marijuana…under it’s influence, i would withdraw into myself and simply record music through the nocturnal hours. sometimes the money would run right out, and the phone would be cut off,worse still when the marijuana would run out, and i’d be climbing the walls…many say it’s non addictive,but it certainly had me in its grip for a long term romance… the only things that kept me sane were my boyfriend in england who would come over once every six weeks or so,or maybe some music related episode would pay for my ride over to london or even new york.this way of life turned out not to be cheap at all… i spent an absolute fortune on weed,and taxis to the coast to acquire it. this house was always freezing in the winters,but i was doing what i wanted to do.
the quality of the weed in northern ireland wasn’t great.apparently it was laced with things like formaldehyde and soap to bulk it up,which isn’t very nice..it was overpriced,and often there were dry periods which let me know in a very real way how addicted to the stuff i was becoming.i never got a taste for other drugs…i had a brief spell of using speed in my early twenties which was amazing for creativity,although the comedown was so awful, that even i at a young age could tell i wasn’t hardy enough for that stuff…in truth, no one is . it’s a very unhealthy drug….it’ll eat the calcium out of your very bones… i had a manager once who enjoyed cocaine,and i would partake in that with him,but it was his great company i liked,not the actual cocaine,and in the end his cocaine had me walking away from him. i’ve no experience of heroin….no….the only drug i ever loved was cannabis or marijuanna or whatever you want to call it….and now i only takes that if its high quality, in lemonade or chocolate form…no smoking…..i’m at an age where it’s best to hold on to whatever remaining health is left. at 55 it’s all about damage control.
reeling the film back to the early nineties,and once again i’ve had a nice week with my boyfriend, met with my manager and now it’s time to head back to northern ireland. if i’m lucky on those visits i’ll score an ounce of good hash in london that i’ll take back to groove away with making music in the countryside.in reflection i’m amazed at how brazen i was carrying my supply through an airport that had double security anyway, due to the political unrest at home.i was so brazen that often in the departure lounge i’d go into the toilets and fire up a little pipe before the flight.i did this so many times,and it was only a matter of time before my card would be called…
so i’m saying goodbye to thomas my boyfriend at the security gates before heading down into the departure lounge.they’re going through the occasional passengers suitcase,and they decide to have a go at mine…at first i didn’t worry,because my lovely ounce of hash was stashed in the inside pocket of my folded harris tweed sports jacket….but then i suddenly remember a curious yet subtle little incident that happened about half an hour previously.a policeman with a dog walked by me. the dog sat down right beside me, but then got up and walked on,and that was it. hmmmm…and now they’re going through my suitcase for what feels like forever, and eventually they find my lovely lump of hash..the security guard says’what’s this’,and i say ‘oh it’s resin for a violin bow±!@£$%^…..who am i kidding?!….next thing i’m being taken away out the back door of heathrow airport in one of those police vans, and all i really feel is fear and humiliation…i don’t feel like i’ve doing anything wrong…but there’s a comical side to this because of the way i was dressed…i had this rather grand padded shouldered overcoat on…tiny little spectacles,and a fur russian style hat on..i look like a travelling conductor of the russian philharmonic …very swish actually…
next thing i know i’m in a cell sitting up bolt right … every now and then someone peers at me through the peephole in the iron door,and they keep doing it,so i figure they think i’m a proper fruit and nut case….i still have my coat on..the russian hat..the spectacles,and i’m stunned…. i can hear drunk irish men in other cells hurling profanities,and my imagination is running riot… after they’ve let me stew for maybe forty minutes, they bring me out…a really nice police man tries to hide a giggle and says to me..”okay…hold your hand up and repeat after me… i promise i will never use cannabis ever again”..i repeat with 100% conviction,but as soon as i get home on the last flight,the first thing i do,is score some third rate bad overpriced formaldehyde and soap ridden hash…but before i leave the station,they take my fingerprints,which makes me feels so very criminal,and make me sign a thing…while they take my fingerprints,i can see my confiscated ounce of hash sitting close by,and because the policeman is real nice, i become within a pubic hair of asking if i can have my hash back…thank heavens i didn’t.
they throw you out of the station,and you have to find your own way to the airport…luckily there was a bus stop near by,and i got the last flight home,and the next thing i did after letting concerned folk know what had happened was i set about scoring some hash from the local dealer.
whole winters pass me by now without even drinking a cocktail…the more distance i gained from the toxins,the more the subtlety of life re-entered my days…the loveliness of early early mornings with a clear head…a new and reinvigorated relationship to music…loads and loads of sitting in the bay window singing and playing my guitars…i’d love to see marijuana legalised,not because i feel everyone should use it,but more because it would save innocent folk like me getting arrested,and for an open conversation with the youngsters,so they know what it’s downsides are,so they can make a more informed choice…cleaner weed with no formaldehyde and soap to bulk it up would be nice….
i will leave you with a new song,and as trippy as it might be,it was written,recorded and sang with a very clear head… i hope you like it.
loads of love to he and she who reads or listens…
mary mary… and not very hairy.