That the one day ends with you playing a rapturous concert in an ages-old theatre in Dublin town, that the following one ends with you bumping into the furniture in the dark at your own house on the other side of the Atlantic, trying to persuade your jetlag that it really is night: something wondrous and something transgressive is at work there. Perhaps it is the conditions of travel now – like eight hours of information-free waiting in the airport, or watching the likely ill-recompensed tarmac personnel capering for selfies in the cave of the engine housing of the plane you’re supposed to have been on some time ago, or kissing your luggage goodbye for good, or now watching the likelihood of your connecting flights rise to the heavens in ash, for example – that exact the fare for fording Charon’s pond so readily.
The English were a bit careful with us on this tour, and then came round to this genre-defying song-and-dance enterprise, and carried us handsomely. The Scots were boisterous and instantly there, and let us know. The Irish: they were poets with their quiet, skalds in their hooting and their ready recognition of what Nights of Grief and Mystery is for, is from. And the band and myself were confirmed and blessed, these last ten days of mercilessly paced stand and deliver. Bad road food as the root condition of touring doesn’t seem to go out of fashion somehow. And after the glories of piratical marauding of the fens, the band is already scattered and trying to reform their digestive systems, and readying themselves for the Canada/U.S. portion of our 2022 tour. Doing their scales. As the maestro Cohen so elaborately knew: they don’t pay you to sing. They pay you to travel.
And I return to a new book already sold out of its initial print run, and us running headlong now into those famous non-negotiable supply chain troubles, and no paper to be had, and the rest. We’re ill advisedly trying to push the river of what could be in printing a new batch. It’ll come round, but not today or tomorrow. So, nothing smoothe about the roll out of this Reckoning, which seems foreseeable and in keeping.
There is something we can do, though. We can go and meet the people, and we can employ Reckoning as a reason why. So Kimberly Johnson and myself will take to the road over the next month or so in favour of the reckoning, in favour of the conditions of citizenship in a time of tempest. And we will meet the people in a few old-fashioned book tour stops.
The book is reasoned, and it is responsible. But it is bare knuckled too, and not at all persuaded that we, denizens of this troubled age, are on the other side of much, not plague-wise, not wisdom-wise. I do believe you’ll recognize something of the last thirty months and counting in it, and that you’ll feel yourself seen by it, and not distracted by it, nor cheerlead. Reckoning would treat you as a grown up, and as a mandatory presence for a time when the sentries on the barricades seem many of them to be drunk and gaming with what’s likely now.
I’ve been granted the faculties to muster something of the beginnings of a life’s work, it seems. The English, and the Scots and the Irish, reminded me of that these last two weeks, thanked me for it, pleaded for some continuance of the thing. It’s wondrous, being honoured for something that barely feels as though it has started. It’s merciful too, and there’s something unlikely and, even so, a portion and helping of the miraculous about it all.
ps: a crown of laurel leaves for Justin Bonnet, our fixer-extraordinaire on this tour, soulful manager of the fine print of grace, and style, and bonhomie. Utterly inconceivable without him. And for The Sonic Kid, Charlie Scaife, who turned the knobs and tuned us in, and wafted our prayers to the heavens. And for the folks who covered for us here.