|Me and Johnny at the Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas|
Roland and I decided that we would see Johnny Marr play in Las Vegas when the opportunity arose. He was opening for New Order and playing outdoors in the pool area at the hotel. It took a bit of maneuvering to arrange babysitters on a weeknight-Thursday-but we pulled it off thanks to good friends.
As we were packing, I quickly grabbed my Louder Than Bombs album and a sharpie so that if I were to meet Johnny Marr, he could sign this item of my youth. I was kind of joking because I knew it was unlikely and Roland thought it was funny. Of course, I left the actual vinyl in a nice, cool place at home since the heat would warp it.
We stayed at a fairly new hotel called the Vdara, which is right next door to the Cosmopolitan, where the gig took place. The Cosmopolitan was just way too expensive to book a room and the feature we liked best about the Vdara is that it has a little kitchen so you can prepare your own food. Its not that we don't like eating out but its nice and romantic to share and prepare a meal without the kids around. It can also be expensive to eat out.
The Vdara also does not have a casino in it, which makes it nice if you like the quiet, and aren't bothered about not gambling.
The ride from Orange County is about four hours. Roland and I just played music and sang along the whole time. Its not really cool that we were blaring music in a mini van but if you have to be undignified, why not do it in style, eh? We listened to the likes of Johnny's new album, The Messenger, as well as Morrissey (of course), The Smiths, Buddy Holly and New Order among others.
Once we arrived and had a quick nap, I realized that although I had remembered to bring Louder Than Bombs, I had forgotten to bring my make up. Now, if you are a guy, you might think this is a minor thing, but if you are a fairly vain woman (approaching fifty), in all likelihood you know how important it is to look as good as you can if you are going to a concert to see your favorite guitar hero.
So we went make up shopping on the strip and then for a drink. (And to look for Johnny Marr).
Roland did not want to have a drink at The Cosmopolitan because the last time we were there, it was kind of crowded but I insisted since it was my belief and hope that Johnny would be there. Somewhere. I was kind of joking because I did not think it was really possible but I had my LP in my bag anyway.
I had a Bloody Mary, Roland had a beer and we enjoyed watching the bartender make tourists amazing drinks. I kept looking around for Johnny and joked with Roland that he might just come in the bar to order a drink, see my album in my large bag and ask, "Miss, is that a Louder Than Bombs album you are carrying in your bag? May I sign it?"
I realized I needed to head back to the make up store for an eye shadow brush so we left the bar and headed back outside the hotel. I said to Roland, "Keep an eye out for him. Remember what he looks like. He kind of looks like that guy over there." As I said so, I realized it WAS him.
I picked up my pace leaving Roland in a cloud of dust and approached him. "Johnny? Johnny Marr?" and he kind of looked at me as if he were unsure. I said, "Are you Johnny Marr?" and he said yes but he was looking towards the direction he was heading so I was afraid I was interrupting whatever he was doing. Perhaps he was looking for an escape route.
It made me think that I don't know what is going on in his life. Maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he was anxious about something. I wanted to make sure he had a way out if he did not really want to engage.
I said, "I just happened to have my album here. Would it be okay to ask you to sign it?" (Although I thought it was odd that I was carrying an album cover, he did not indicate that it was at all strange.)
He said, "Yes. I'll sign it."
I said, "I really like your new album."
He looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Thank you." But it made me think it was nice for him to get positive feedback on something he has been working on more recently.
He dropped the pen and picked it up and began to sign my album. "What's your name?" he asked.
My heart was going so fast, I began to feel kind of shakey. I just could not believe he was signing it and I was here with him. He was holding just an album cover which probably did not mean so much to him at the moment but to me, it was the very album I would run home to and sometimes literally hug for comfort during some of the toughest days of my life. The sound of Johnny's guitar signaled the songs I would sing that brought me joy in knowing that someone else in this world understood me. Many tears were shed on that album. That album that Johnny was signing at that moment for me. It was almost like a recognition of what we shared but I don't think Johnny really had any idea. Strange to meet the person who seems to have written the soundtrack to part of your life, but you don't know each other.
He asked, "Are you coming to the gig tonight?"
Roland said yes.
I said, "If my legs don't give out." My legs really began to feel weak and rubbery. I felt like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
I think he smiled at that.
Then he asked Roland where he was from. Roland told him and they had a conversation about the production of the album. He told Roland that the only band he never sang with was The Smiths.
A woman approached and I said, "Hi. I'm Andrea," and we shook hands. She also asked if we were going to the gig. I said yes, and I told her that I was really overcome. I think she thought it was sweet because she said, "Aww." I assumed this was Johnny's wife. The last thing I wanted to do was ask her.
I reached in my bag for my camera and she offered to take my picture with Johnny. She took two shots, which came out very well. In my vanity, I wish I had worn shades but you can see I had no time to think about being cool. I was too happy.
There were a couple of guys that had seen us and wanted to meet Johnny so I knew that our time was up. We said good-bye and thank you very much.
As we rounded the corner, a man asked, "Who is that?"
We said, "Johnny Marr." But Roland had to explain who exactly he is.
How do you express in words all that such a talent has given you? How do you express the amazement and the love you have for the songs? Its not possible. You can only grin like a fool.
When we got back to our hotel, I realized I hadn't even read what he wrote:
"To Andrea. Good luck. Johnny Marr"
They seem like such simple words but how true. I already had my good luck, Johnny. Thank you!
Coming Soon: The show at The Cosmopolitan