New York 25 September
We decamped Los Angeles early morning the 23rd for a 5 hour flight to New York and lost three hours in the time change to the east coast. We hit a major traffic snare as we approached the hotel…. the United Nations in session and Trump in town. Horns blaring, cars not moving. We’re not in Santa Monica anymore. Finally hit our hotel at 7 o’clock. My son is visiting the city and will spend these last few days with me here at the hotel. We went to Victor’s Cuban Restaurant which always hits the mark. The following day, after a couple of slices and beers at Ray’s Pizza, we spent hours in Central Park, deeper into it than I’d explored before. Hints of Autumn in New York, the weather a comfortable mid-70s, a perfect day. Dinner plans for a last band meal fell through tonight, due again to gridlocked traffic, Trump and the U.N. meeting. We ended up meeting at the bar for a drink then went our own ways, Danny and I to the Dim Sum Palace for steamers full of all kinds of deliciousness and sake. Back to the hotel for a very early night at 10 o’clock.
The last day and final show of a remarkable 6 month tour. A mid-afternoon call due to stand-still traffic. It was so bad the cars couldn’t get to the hotel and we walked a block to them. Yeah, I know, tough life. Congestion everywhere, getting around the block took 15 minutes. We finally made it to Madison Square Garden and bolted for catering, followed by our soundcheck. Bonnie Raitt opened the show tonight and we worked up a duet with her, one of Mark’s songs called Wherever I Go. My son and his friend joined us for dinner at the venue then they went out to find their seats. I went to my wardrobe trunk to empty it into a spare suitcase brought along for that very reason. Amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in 6 months, clothes, shoes, books, bags, CDs, posters and more. I managed to wrangle it all in, but only just. Lots of goodbyes to the crew tonight, wishing well and safe journeys. Bonnie took the stage at 8 sharp and I went into the house to hear the first of her set. Great singing and her slide guitar playing sublimely rocking. Bonnie’s long-time band is a forceful combo, fantastic, including her guitar player of a quarter century or more and my friend from Nashville, George Marrinelli. Back in the dressing room it was time to get on with changing and a short warm-up of the fingers then on stage for our part. I was wondering how it would feel playing in a large arena to 11,000 people after the last 5 weeks of performing in theatres and smaller venues. Expecting jitters, I walked out there and couldn’t have been more comfortable. At the risk of being redundant, tonight’s show was as musically smart, brilliantly played and almost frighteningly relaxed all around. I enjoyed every song so much and per final shows, bid each adieu as we worked down the setlist. Bonnie joined us for the penultimate song…. MK, Bonnie and band rising to the occasion and hitting a grand slam home run. One final tune, Going Home, and that was that. We had an after-show reception there at Madison Square and saw so many old friends who’d come to see our last show. We didn’t get back to our hotel until 1 in the morning and the whole band made it’s way over to the Irish pub around the corner. At 4 in the morning we shut it down. That’s when the real embraces and goodbyes between us happened. It was an upbeat farewell this time, the great show, reception and many a-Guinness. Glenn and I have a noon departure for JFK Airport just a few hours from now. I laid down hoping to get 5 or 6 hours sleep but six months of this tour kept firing in my head and I couldn’t shut it down. Don’t know when I finally drifted off but what sleep I did get, wasn’t enough.
Up, coffee, shower, reshuffle the suitcases and out the door by noon. Said goodbye to my son who’d been staying with me for a few days and will stay on another couple before retuning to Nashville. It took an hour and a half to get from midtown Manhattan to JFK. As Glenn and I made our way through the terminal, wheeling our luggage and slogging through security, we very quickly realised, it’s a wrap and we’re out of the bubble, that rarified time while on tour where we live in the lap of luxury; private jets, elegant hotels, top drawer catering and restaurants, the best that Europe and North America has to offer, all the while playing music for each other and many thousands of people who want to hear it. The bubble is burst. Long live the bubble. Here’s to another one. Onward to the other bubble….home.