It was the Summer of 1989, and I was on tour in the U.S. I was doing an outdoor concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, then I had two days off before a show at The Ace Of Clubs in Nashville.
“Talk It Over” was doing very well on the charts and RCA wanted to capitalize on that momentum and release a third single from “Blind To Reason”. My song “Bring It All Back” was the one everyone agreed on. Since director Nick Brandt had done such a good job on “Talk It Over”, it made sense to me to have him direct the video for “Bring It All Back”. In a brief phone conversation I encouraged him to do whatever he wanted in terms of an idea for the video.
So, with the sound of the last chord of my Knoxville concert still ringing in the humid Summer air, I was driven literally from the stage to my overnight flight to London, where I would be picked up and taken to the famed Shepperton Studios in Surrey. The plan was for me to shoot the video, stay overnight in London, then meet up with my band and crew in Nashville for the show that night. I was planning to get a little sleep on the flight over, but, even with nice comfortable first class seats, I couldn’t shut down. I’ve never been able to sleep on anything faster than a bed.
I arrived at Shepperton Studios, sleep-deprived and quite surprized at what greeted my eyes when I entered the sound stage. In what looked like a cavernous airplane hangar, there was a strange apocalyptic scene. Several trees stood against a jungle backdrop, and in these trees were: a boat with a boy and girl in it, a postman in an overturned table, a middle-aged couple with a small girl in an empty bureau, and the shell of a Hammond B3 organ with bench. It all looked rather rickety. I walked over to Nick and said “Now am I supposed to be in that tree with the organ?” He assured me it wouldn’t topple over and sent me off to try and catch some badly-needed sleep in a suite hidden somewhere in the studio complex. He said he’d film the segments with the other actors and then do mine.
And that’s when the comedy of errors began. I took a shower, then drew the blinds and lay down on the bed, already beginning to dream. Suddenly the phone rang.
“Ello, is that you, Tim?” a voice asked.
“No, it’s Grayson, and I’m trying to sleep. Please don’t call here again.”
He didn’t seem convinced. “Do you know where Tim is?”
I was starting to get a little irritated. “No, I don’t. I’m shooting a video and I need some sleep. And please don’t call this extension again. Thanks.”
“Well if you see Tim..” and I hung up.
I thought I’d better thwart any future calls so I took the phone off the hook. It started making very loud cheeping sounds. I put a pillow over it. It continued to cheep just as audibly, like an unhappy giant cricket being suffocated. I looked around for a fan to mask the cheeping but there was none. I dialed 0 and a faraway voice asked me what I wanted. I explained the situation and the faraway person, unconvinced, said they’d tell Ian not to call this extension.
“Thank you very much”, I said, and lay back down.
The phone rang. It was Tim. “Ello, Ian, is that you?”
Well, this search for Ian – or Tim – continued for several more calls, until I, in a fit of what seemed like perfectly justifiable anger, ripped the phone from its wall connection and then slept soundly for two hours.
After filming all day and into the night, I climbed down from my tree, shook Nick’s hand and thanked him for a job well done. I told him of the phone mishap, and offered to pay for any damage. He laughed and said, “Don’t worry about it, all in a day’s work.”
The day after my show in Nashville, a rough cut of the video was flown over express air mail for my approval. I watched it, along with my band, on the tour bus VCR. I had no idea what the message was supposed to be, with all these stranded -after-the-flood people in trees, but it was visually striking.
I submit it here for your viewing pleasure. I apologize for the hat. Don’t know what I was thinking. My wife has said, on more than one occasion “If I had been there, I would have never let you wear that stupid hat.” She was, of course, right. It was a stupid hat. I am not a Greek fisherman. But this was 1989 – the close of the decade of hat-wearing musicians.
To watch the video click HERE.
© 2013 by Grayson Hugh