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To Jordan II

by Neil Nixon 

Posted: 09 February 2006
Word Count: 2489
Summary: A short story; about a rock musician but also about the battle to create any artistic work of merit. I tried structuring it like a song verse/chorus a couple of times, middle eight, verse/chorus and fade.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


I’ve had my whole life to write this. Next time – if I’m lucky – I’ll have a year. There isn’t that much space to hold these words so I’ll stick to what matters. Like Jordan, Jordan matters.

People always ask about my family. The truth: when I was younger my mum moved two hundred miles away, my dad spent his time round the corner with his new girlfriend and I got the house to myself. It was right for all three of us. We’ve all survived.

So, I had plenty of time, and Dad’s old electric guitar. On the day I bought my first shark-fin pick I saw an ad on the music shop wall. A couple of days later I auditioned in front of Dan and Edgar. They were all furtive looks when I ran through my stuff. By the time they called me back the drum machine had gone and Jos was there. Jos was tuning his skins:


Jos didn’t look beyond his kit. It was just; BANG BANG.

Edgar told me; ‘Vicky, you’re in the band.’




Dan and Edgar looked at each other, one of them snorted, I couldn’t tell which. Jos went red and tuned another tub.


‘But what?’

‘We were thinking, like.’



‘Well, like, maybe, Vicky, you could be the bass player.’ Edgar tipped his head back, blew out the smoke from his cigarette, really slowly, and looked just over my shoulder. I looked in his eyes. I made a big decision right then. I gave up smoking.

There were no other ads on the shop wall. I checked the local paper too. Then I rang Edgar.

The good news part one: Bass playing is crap outside of being in a band. When bands split, bass players sell up. Back in the same music shop I paid 45 quid for a well used Fender copy, I didn’t have to trade Dad’s electric. Peter behind the counter held out his hand. It looked like two yellow pills in his palm.

‘On the house Vicky.’

‘I’ll be off my tits for a month on whatever’s in them.’

He held one up and squashed it between his thumb and a finger. He dropped it on the counter. It went back to its old shape.

‘Vicky, you bloody div.’ He was smiling.

I only figured them for ear plugs when I picked one up.

‘Peter, why…?’

‘Cos you’re in a band with those tossers, trust me here.’

The good news part two: You play the bass from your crotch. Pull it hard and the big strings shake. The vibrations run through it, into your body, into your bones. Right inside…you. It’s rhythm, sexual, part of you. Nobody warned me about that bit. Why do guitarists strut when bass players stand there? Cos guitarists only get off when they impress someone else.

The first thirty gigs were all support slots. I could feel the drums. Well, I was almost sitting on Jos. These weren’t exactly big stages. Even when I couldn’t get all the notes, I could stay in time. Jos and Vicky, the rhythm section, solid inside ten gigs.

To get headline dates we needed a demo CD. We pooled everything we’d earned and booked a studio. Jos and I had our stuff down in a morning. In the first hour of the afternoon I got my one lead vocal, all four lines of it, nailed on the third take. Dan and Edgar spent the rest of the money arguing the toss over, well, arguing the toss mainly. Jos could read the paper when this was going on. I had to get out.

In the café over the road I had the bass propped up against the wall and a fresh cup of tea. I was reading the NME and battling the craving for a smoke. That’s when he came.

‘It’s very, existential,’ he said.


‘Black nail varnish.’

It was my nail varnish, end of, as far as I could see. By this point in my life I’d started arguing back, not taking all the crap from everyone, all the time. But I was facing a pale kid with a neat haircut. Smacking him in the face was out of the question and I couldn’t tell whether the starchy creature behind him was a teacher or his mum. Either way, if I told him to piss off I’d be the one out of there. And I needed that cup of tea.

‘It’s my nail varnish.’

‘Well, obviously.’

‘They sell it in Boots.’

‘That’s a Fender copy,’ he pointed to the bass.

‘Well, obviously.’

He was silent for a second. ‘I’m interested, I just wondered about your music.’

‘My music? I’m the bass player. Who the hell are you?’

‘I’m Jordan. I don’t mean to be rude but I’m interested in what you do.’

‘Interested in drinking tea?’

‘You’ve got a lot of anger haven’t you?’

‘Yeah, interesting isn’t it?’

‘No no,’ It was obvious no amount of sarcasm was going to knock him back. ‘Anger,’ he said, ‘can be positive, you can channel it.’

What I wanted, really wanted, was to light up, inhale and dump the end result in his face. I chanted in my mind; Focus girl, focus. ‘Tell me Jordan,’ I said, ‘Do people actually listen to you or is it more a case of toleration?’

The woman behind him put a hand on his shoulder, trying to pull him back. He moved away from her, pulled up a chair, sat down with me and looked in my eyes the whole time. ‘I think messages and ideas in music are fascinating. It’s not something we cover in school but…’

‘School, yeah, come to think of it; shouldn’t you be in school?’

‘I am,’ he turned to indicate his silent partner. She did something halfway between shrugging and rolling her eyes. So, she was paid to manage him. Not a blood relation. That little movement told me he was unmanageable.

‘So, Jordan, what kind of school let’s you…..?’

‘The kind I go to.’ He smiled, just a little. I’d walked right into that one and when he saw me trying to stop a laugh he knew he was winning. So he talked. His school, his special study programs, his parents, his grades, a kicking he’d had once that left a broken rib, the cost of an education that allowed for one to one help to bring out his special talents, and the way his parents worried.’

‘What about?’ I asked.

‘Oh, everything.’

His minder was stuck into a book. She still hadn’t spoken. Jordan and I ordered more tea, he ordered her a Latte without asking. ‘I’ll bet you’re someway between the Chilli Peppers and Queens of the Stone Age.’

I managed to hide a shudder. My mind raced, how could he tell that from my nail varnish and a beaten up bass? ‘I don’t know what we are,’ I said, ‘They’re arguing over the road and I’m hiding in here. I can’t reason with them.’

‘You’re better than that.’

‘Jordan, we met – like – ten minutes ago!’

‘So what, you’ve got enough anger for me to know I’m right.’

I looked out of the window, it was because of moments like this I started smoking. At least I had my tea.

He spoke; ‘when reason fails there’s something deeper and more, more….’He looked at his minder.’

‘Visceral,’ she said. Her face stayed in the book. She wouldn’t speak again.

Now I was struggling. ‘Are you two, for real?’

‘Yes, and I’ll bet you’ve got that visceral, that real, quality in your work.’

‘My work? I’m the fucking bass player! The songwriting factory are over the road kicking the shit out of each other.’

‘Well,’ he said, ‘That’s how it is now.’ He glanced at his watch.

My tea was down to the last drop. I could have murdered a smoke. I looked into the bottom of my cup. He was halfway out of his seat when I looked up.

‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘I really enjoyed meeting you. Any chance of a name I might want to Google?’

I told him my name. I never did tell him the name of that band.

An hour later I was back in the control room, Dan and Edgar had their heads down listening to another mix. Jos was reading something about Daniella Westbrook’s nose.

‘That mix is shit,’ I said. ‘I can’t hear the bass.’

Edgar looked up: ‘we’ve done the fucking bass, Vicky, we’re doing the flange on Dan’s guitar.’

‘Who says we’ve done the fucking bass?’

Jos looked up from Daniella’s face. I’d got their attention now.

I hope you never heard that demo, because it stank. It could have been worse, but it still stank. We kept going, got headline gigs, heard rumours there were record companies in the audience. Then I got that call from Inner Riot, well their office. I was the only one on time for rehearsals by that point. I pinned a note to the main mike stand, ‘Got a date with Rick Goran and Inner Riot, see ya in a couple of days!’

I was scared. So was Peter in the music shop, after he slipped me the Fender bass I played for my second audition. I was freezing on the train home. I wouldn’t let go of the bass, not even for a warm cup of tea. When my phone rang it wasn’t the office, it was Rick. The next day, I kept my head low, looked miserable and took the Fender case back to Peter. He said nothing, opened up the case and found the Fender copy inside.

‘OWWWW!!!!!’ That was him screaming. Then he leapt the counter. ‘Vicky, yes!!!!’ We hugged, for ages. Then I rang Edgar.

I hope you didn’t see me that first time at The Marquee, I played okay but I still can’t think about the boots I wore without going cold. I threw those boots in a dustbin on the way out. They’ve been sold twice on e-bay. When I got back home after that gig, I found an e-mail from Jordan. We’ve been swapping them ever since.

It was pretty good for a while after that. Don’t believe everything you read. It’s true Inner Riot wanted to kill each other, but only off stage. People still expect me to talk about Rick. I’m okay with it, most of the time. I’m always thinking about him. Every second around him I knew I was alive. Even that last tour. On the studio version of Black Room, it’s Rick on the bass solo. That bit when everyone stops and you hear it pumping faster and faster, and it runs down through the riff a couple of times. It’s him. We both tried it and he kept saying to me: ‘You’ve got to strangle it Vicky. Sock it in the guts and grab it round the neck, make it scream.’

On the live album, when we drag that bit out for a whole minute, it wasn’t planned that way. We knew we’d record that one show, the last night in Osaka. When we got to that part of the song, I punched into the strings. Rick heard it and turned round. It’s on the DVD. He’s on his knees screaming at me, then he laughs, that’s why I keep going and he takes ages to get back to the mike. We never got it so good again. I can only listen to the live version when I’m alone. I don’t cry, I howl. I miss Rick.

We’d all had enough by the end. It wasn’t any one thing. We all tried hiding his gear, talking to him, begging him. But every dealer in every fucking town wanted to get to him. We talked about taking time off, getting him clean. We all wanted time off. I’ve read the stuff about us needing to rethink, look at our direction. No! We hadn’t slept properly in a year. Rick hadn’t slept properly…..ever. It just got too crazy. We were so tired, we didn’t know how crazy. Then Rick upped and died and showed us all.

And it was my song we had out at the time. I’ll play Me Unseen tonight. You can’t do a solo tour and leave out the only number 1 single you wrote. But it’s my way now. The band backstage. Me, out front, on the piano.

It was hard for a long time afterwards. I could play but when I got in the studio, I couldn’t tell anyone what I wanted. Cutting No Bones, we ditched two albums worth of stuff. Everything came together quickly, nothing sounded right.

I’d hear the control room in my headphones; ‘What do you think?’

It felt wrong. I couldn’t tell them how to make it right. The record company rang up one day. ‘How’s it going?’

‘We’ve done seven tracks.’

‘Great, do you have a title for the album yet?’

‘Yeah, we’re gonna call it; I Don’t Fucking Know!’

‘Thanks Vicky. How about you take a break this afternoon? I think marketing would like a word.’

That was – altogether – one of the weirdest days of my life. On my way to the offices I passed Edgar, that bloody Edgar, at Tottenham Court Road tube station. Didn’t throw him any change though.

Marketing were not impressed. I’d have argued the title out, but I wasn’t impressed either. So we gave it some space. I went to a few cafés, drank some tea, read the papers, sat there with my notepad.

I thought about a lot of things. I thought about Jordan. ‘When reason fails there’s something altogether deeper and more, more….’

I looked at my hands, they were shaking. I wrote ‘visceral’ on my pad. I’ve still got that page from the pad, my handwriting’s terrible. Normally I write well. In ten days we had the album, every note. I’ve been asked why we called it No Bones. The truth: UK marketing said the States wouldn’t get it if we called the album Visceral.


I hope you bought it. I hope it’s Visceral to you. I’m glad you’ve come to see me. Glad you bought this tour program. We argued about this program too.

‘I’m going to tell them the whole story.’ I said. ‘Not just fill it with pictures and adverts for the merchandise.’

‘Alright Vicky, but…’


‘Keep it under 2500 words. We need space for…’

‘Yeah, I know.’

I hope you enjoy tonight’s show. I hope you feel it. I’m putting myself on the line here. They’re my songs. They’re me.

Marketing say they know all of you. I tell them it’s impossible because I’m reaching out to everyone, every individual. That’s why tonight’s show, and every other date on this tour, is dedicated to Jordan.

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