From Justin: My Favourite Places

Posted on 09/01/2006

I hesitate to say that Paris, Rome, London and New York are my favourite places, because places where you feel at home, or that you belong, are as much in the heart as in an exact location on a map. But, they are my favourite cities and I love spending time in each of them.

New York scared me when I first went there in the 1960’s, but the more I got to know the city, the more I liked it. Now I feel I could actually live there, if I could ever afford it, which is extremely unlikely. On my way home from a US tour I can’t resist at least one day just walking though the streets and parks as well as sampling some of the best food to be found anywhere in the world. Great music is also embedded in the very fabric of the city.

It was probably while working with Dennis Lambert on “This is the Moment” (one of those often forgotten or worse, quite undeservedly ignored, Moodies tracks), that I really started to get the feel of the city, and that kind of addiction to New York has stayed with me and grown ever since.

I was in Paris again for a few days last week, singing a couple of songs on my good friend Alan Simon’s latest album project. I worked with Alan before on ‘Gaia’, ‘Project for the Environment’, and was part of his concert at Midem in Cannes a couple of years ago and then with his band for ‘Art On Ice’ in Zurich. His music always appeals to me and the latest recordings are coming together nicely. I enjoyed every moment of my time with Alan and his team and I was reminded what a strange and beautiful place Paris sometimes is. It always holds the thrilling possibility of an unexpected encounter or a chance meeting.

I had to go to the American Embassy in Paris last year to renew my work visa, and while I was waiting for it to be processed I had a couple of hours to explore the boulevards around the ‘Place de la Concorde’. I was attracted to a small busy restaurant near the Rue Saint Honore and was shown to a table deep inside the room set for one. I ordered and was happily waiting for my food to arrive when the ‘Maitre de’ came and asked me if I would mind company, as the restaurant was almost full. The size of the table made it intimate, to say the least, but as you would have done I’m sure, I said ‘of course, that would be fine’.

I went on to enjoy a lovely meal with a complete stranger and I spent a completely unexpected couple of hours with somebody I would normally never have met. It’s great how life throws people together, and I didn’t even mention I was in a band.

Large parts of our lives are forgotten while others remain crystal clear in our memories for no apparent reason. We remember the light, the smell, and sometimes the tiniest details of a room, or the dust and colours of a country lane. Sometimes it’s just the knowledge that you must return that creates the sharpest of images.

Another UK tour is fast approaching, followed by some gigs scattered around Europe between now and Christmas. Just when I’m in a song-writing groove! It’s so good to have half a dozen new songs waiting in the wings. A plan is forming about how to record them.

This will be the second UK tour for me this year, the first being ‘The War of The Worlds’. I’m certainly getting re-acquainted with the British road system.

The DVD of Jeff Wayne’s stage production comes out soon and Gordy, who has seen and heard some of it, tells me it’s really good. Jeff certainly deserves all his success. The work, time and effort he put into the show was tremendous and I’m looking forward to the next tour with it. Next year, hopefully.

We have a few new people on the road with us this time out. The first few gigs should be interesting, but I know few can resist the family feeling of our tours.

See you!
Love and peace,

Justin