I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel.
A line that resonates more than the whole verse of his Hallelujah. Leonard Cohen, a Canadian singer-songwriter (I always like to acknowledge the well known fact he is Canadian) wrote Chelsea Hotel No.2. It wasn’t the song that drew me to the big NYC- but rather the tragic and romanticized place, arguably romanticized place, of a hotel. Room 100. Right then it may be obvious I am a Sex Pistols fan…or some would say a Sid and Nancy fan. I was very curious about them when I was growing up. EVERYONE stayed there, or so it seemed. Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan, Sid and Nancy….oh, and Cohen…all the heavy weights. Not just rockstars but some of the great writers of our generation and generations past- Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road Again there. Who else? You may have heard of them- Mark Twain and Tennessee Williams. I loved the allure of it all- the desolation, the history, the architecture.
My fondest memory of 2015 was visiting this place. I read literature on address 222 West 23rd Street. Dee Dee Ramone’s Chelsea Horror Hotel had to be my favourite. You see, I love visiting historic sites- my idea of a vacation. I have been fortunate enough to visit Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, and well, even seeing where the old CBGB’s stood (now John Varvatos) could give you the power to reminisce like you were a part of it all. But the Chelsea, was something else. Scaffolding hid a lot of its charm to the passersby- but not me. I could have stayed there for hours. It was like the meeting place of all the intricate, the charming and the creative intellectuals. Everyone who loves music, live music, knows a place like this.
It was an unusually cold day in April, grey clouds hung over the hotel as if all the musicians, writers, and poet’s pain and memories were left there; left with us. Their music, their art, their sadness, their happiness, all here at the Hotel Chelsea. My favourite day of 2015.
As the door to 2015 creaks and comes to the inevitable “click” shut, I hope 2016 opens with no hesitation- no rust, no loose knobs or screws, just flung open to run courageously through. Happy New Year.