Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dave Davies Breaks My Heart (Again): Satsang 1

So we did it. Went on the Satsang Weekend. It took a huge leap of faith. Like the jump that Robert Redford and Paul Newman make in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Well maybe not as risky as that. It was billed as the opportunity of a lifetime but I’m the sort of person who, when opportunity knocks at the door, crouches down behind the sofa until it goes away again. At one point during the preliminaries, I thought I was joining the FBI or something; the payment method that my bank told me was unsafe and would cost me £30 (luckily the bank proposed an alternative that worked), the security, the ID laminates, the whole clandestine nature of the affair seemed so outlandish but in a way, this somehow only served to make the prospect more intriguing. It was all so Secret Squirrel. Although I did wonder what might be coming next: Fingerprints? Retinal scans? The absolute secrecy, need-to-knowness was possibly a little excessive considering that, if I’d told my friends that I was going to a satsang weekend at Dave Davies’s house, they wouldn’t have said, ‘Oh my God, you know where Dave Davies lives?’, they would have asked ‘Who’s Dave Davies?’ and possibly, ‘What’s satsang?’ I did wonder what sort of people had been invited to Dave and Kate’s before that they felt the need to make us sign a declaration that we would abide by a daunting list of ‘terms and conditions’ and just as it was nerve-wracking for us to put our trust in people we had never met, I kept thinking it can't be easy to invite all these strangers, possibly stalkers, to your house so it was probably even more nerve-wracking for them. Still, it was a little ironic given Dave’s rep as a rule-breaker. When I told my friends I didn’t know where I was going and wasn’t allowed to know, they were sure I would be inducted into a cult and they would have to break me out and then spend a long time deprogramming me. Still, I’d never been in a cult before so was willing to take my chances. After all, you only live once. My worry was that it all seemed like it might be a bit ‘Abandon cynicism, all ye who enter here’, which is a hard thing for me to do. With the added pressure of breathing and meditation, two things I don’t excel at.

So what was it like? Although it wasn’t exactly what we were promised or what we expected, because of Dave, who and how he is, it was so much more. He didn’t only open his house to us; he opened his heart and soul. He’s a sweetheart; totally unguarded, so open that he releases some conduit of emotion in me so that I spend much of the weekend in tears. This is partly because of bad news that I had before I went away but it’s something more. Dave really touches me and affects me somehow so that I feel what he’s feeling, so that each time he cries or his voice breaks, I’m already in tears but I can't know what he’s thinking about. It’s very strange. At one point he talks about being in love – I think he must imagine I’m in the middle of or at the end of a tragic love affair because I keep bursting into tears. I feel there’s some emotional connection, elemental and beyond words, and maybe only momentary. But Dave   probably has this effect on many people and has learnt to go with it.

I’ve never cried so much or been hugged so much in my whole life although my life has not been high on the hugs front anyway. It’s cathartic. The other members of the group are really supportive and kind and I hope that many of us will keep in touch. There is healing from the professionals Dave has enlisted but it’s therapeutic just to be in the group, to accept its and Dave’s kindness.

It’s interesting to hear some of Dave’s ideas, reassuringly eclectic, especially for someone like me, a Brideshead Revisited type of Catholic, more interested in the superstitious, personality-based side of religion, whose own brand of beliefs is a bit like a Woolworth’s pick and mix, with bits of everything all jumbled up, there’s nothing like variety, my ultimate faith lying in St Anthony, and Dave’s credo, which is based on love, should be our ideal although some things are a little harder to accept (like dolphins coming from another planet). Having recently had what faith I had shaken by an event that belies any concept of karma (and not for the first time), it was surprisingly moving to be with people who still believed in something, who could conceive that their positive energy could affect the universe, that we could pool our spiritual resources and make a difference. Dave is very anti intermediaries (priests and so on) but he can be my intermediary any day. Dave notwithstanding though, a couple of days after the weekend, I hedged my bets and bought medals of the saints from Buckfast Abbey and celebrated the Equinox at some stone rows on Dartmoor with a Druidess.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not quite ready to canonize Dave yet because I just read an interview with Ray where the interviewer was ‘kind’ enough to point out all the cruel things that Dave had recently said about him. Ray said that he wouldn’t read the article because it would only upset him. It reminds me of my sister and I. I once said that she has empathy for every living creature except me. I know circumspection’s not in your nature but have a heart, babe. He may be all those things but if you prick him, doth he not bleed?

And am I the only one who was a bit disappointed that the talking stick never said anything?

But, let’s be honest here. I didn’t even know what satsang was so I’m not really here for that even though it was intriguing and I found it really affected me. (Or was it just Dave?) Primarily, I’m here for the music.

The gigs in the evening are amazing and the band are great. More than intimate – we’re practically standing on top of them. Dave might forget the words or even the chords occasionally but the emotion and the passion and the humour shine through any minor restarts. He really gives of himself when he performs. He might have managed to get through ‘Flowers in the Rain’ the second night without crying but I didn’t and L* knew I wouldn’t. It gets me every time. I don't think about myself – it’s imagining what he’s feeling that upsets me so much. Empathy. Kurt Cobain was right about that. Still, Dave manages to slip easily between joking and intensity.

But we danced, we sang along, we had a blast. As a relatively new fan, it was the first time I had heard ‘Are You Ready, Girl?’, ‘Rock You , Rock Me’, ‘The Lie’ and ‘Get Back in the Line’. Wow. How lucky am I?

It was incredibly uplifting to hear Dave sing ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’, a pivotal track for me and a major factor in the reasons for me being here at all, and have everyone sing along. I could forget my disappointment in karma and experience unadulterated joy. And he danced with me! Well, sort of.

So many things that I wish I’d asked or said, like ‘Dave. Did you ever know all the words to ‘Village Green Preservation Society'?’

And maybe next time I’ll get up the courage to request some songs. I was dying to hear ‘Run’, ‘Mindless Child of Motherhood’, ‘Lost in Your Arms’, ‘Love Gets You’, but angsted too long over whether there was some particular reason he didn’t play them any more.

Despite everything, the expense and the extreme secrecy, I ask a friend if she’d do it again and she says ‘In a heartbeat’ and I would too. Of course it’s Dave that does it; he still has it, whatever it is. He really touches me. Ok, he looks older but he has that indefinable something; you can see and hear the sixteen-year-old he was in him still, that love of life. Great to see him so well recovered from his stroke. If he toured, wouldn’t we all go? Looking forward to hearing the new album.

Dave, Don’t Stop Breaking My Heart.

1 comment:

    God save the Kinks!