It was 1988. He’s dragged me to Hendaye in the south of France, we rented a place in the country, the Villa Ormen. Just after Never Let Me Down, really he was at the bottom. He had flown so high for so long, my God he was beautiful. Now wings aflame, he came crashing down, truly the man who fell to earth. It hurt. He needed help, naturally he turned to me.
He was in chaos, shaking, empty, bereft. He smoked. He drank. He ate a little. But only baked beans. Wore a white suit and a fedora. Same suit every day. Iman was with me. She was wary around him, said he was one push away from a balcony. He didn’t speak to her directly, only through me. I should have known.
One night we were out in the woods drinking vodka, it was fierce weather, colder than hell on Good Friday. We pulled a bucket full of sorrow through the trees, smashed a hole in the frozen lake and dumped it in. He asked me to form a band with him then, said he wanted to be subsumed in a bigger project, somewhere to hide. A black star if you will. We were going to call it Small Metal Gods.
When we got back to the house the power was out. Iman had lit a solitary candle, was waiting for us by the kitchen table. Whiskey poured. He broke out the beans, was eating them directly from the tin with a rusty old spoon. Magnificent. Warhol would have been proud. He was dancing, unsteady, singing “Gonna hit crack city”, he stumbled and spilled tomato sauce all down the front of his suit.
He sat down and started blubbering like a teething baby. Très embarrassing, you know? She grabbed a cloth and knelt on front of him, cleaning him and that was it. She was gone. The candle went out. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I guess I lost my love that night, the love of a damn fine woman and my love of a genius, a genius with no moral fibre. No fucking backbone. Still, looking back – they made a damn fine record, people will figure that out some day.