Don’t You Leave Me Here – My Life
By Wilko Johnson
Little, Brown – £18.99
‘I want her back.’ I could not speak or even think these words without breaking down. I would break down in tears in the street and have to find some corner to hide. A song on the radio would hit me like a blow. I walked through crowded places feeling like a ghost in an unreal world, lost to everything but my sorrow. I thought of her every waking moment and of course she haunted my dreams – sometimes those lucid dreams where you know you are dreaming; then I could really be with her and hold her in my arms for precious moments before
I waked, she fled and day brought back my night.
There are times throughout this provocative and occasionally heartbreaking book, in which Wilko Johnson writes with the most penetrating tenderness (as that depicted above from the book’s seventeenth chapter). The sort of which invariably grips the reader and just won’t let go – because we’ve all been there.
We’ve all broken down in tears on the street; somehow caught in the harrowing slipstream of no longer wanting to continue with this cruel and complex thing we endeavour to call life.
And for such a morass of fraught feeling to be so delicately and densely captured within a book, is wholly commendable; simply because it falls within such (a humanistic) place.
The sort of which, warrants appreciative applause. And respect.
As such, I cannot recommend Wilko Johnson’s Don’t You Leave Me Here – My Life, more highly. It’s real, it’s invigorating, and I should imagine the following excerpt on Glastonbury (on page 207) is excruciatingly spot-on:
”The atmosphere backstage was wretched – the food was as bad as a microwave can warm up, and I swear I waited twenty minutes for a cup of lukewarm coffee that tasted like cardboard. You couldn’t take two paces without somebody hassling you for a pass (Your papers! Your papers!). Two of the festival staff approached me. They said they wanted to deal with my complaint, since I had given the stage manager ‘an emotional mauling.’ They explained how difficult a problem security was, how the vast area of the festival site was a ‘state within a state’ (they got their own Gestapo too), and how it was necessary to do these things to keep order. I listened in disbelief as they expounded this proto-fascism. They were quite unaware of the implications of what they were saying. Did they really believe that I should abandon my civil liberties – liberties that millions had laid down their lives to secure – just for the honour of appearing at this grotesque, overpriced fairground?
Whale-saving Green fascists! I hope they all get eaten by Moby Dick.”
I very much like the fact that Wilko Johnson tells it as it very much needs to be told. Admittedly, I could’ve done with a whole lot more about his former band Doctor Feelgood – his relationship with singer Lee Brilleaux especially – but this book is what it is: tough, heartbreaking, real.
What more could you ask for?