Lynne Rossi Ruelan:  FacesFanFile

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Lynne Rossi Ruelan's FanFile

Ian 'Mac' McLagan in Philadelphia, P.A. - October 16, 2000

by Lynne Rossi Ruelan

  David Lindley 1989 Ian Mclagan with El-Rayo-X, 1989 David Lindley



     I'm on cloud nine!  I just got back from one of the best evenings I've ever had.  I'd kind of lost touch with my musical heyday, back in high school.  Junior high was where I first discovered Small Faces, Faces, and Mac.   Despite still loving the same music, it's slipped away through the years... particularly since my favorite bands are no longer together and I'm out of the loop on what's happening now.

     I was reunited with Ian McLagan's music via the Internet.  I first heard that he'd written his rock-n-roll autobiography when I was vacationing in Hawaii this past summer.  Once back home, I did a search on google.com for "Ian McLagan" and over 3,000 hits appeared!  Ian's website, Macspages.com, was at the top of the list.  There I discovered his book, All the Rage, and current CD, Best of British.  I was blown away to learn he would soon be appearing at my local HMV in Philadelphia for a book reading and CD promotion gig.

     All of this news led me back to my music collection.  I sorted through old boxes of LPs and memorabilia.  I listened to a lot of the old tunes I hadn't heard in years due to the CD revolution.  I found photos from the summer of 1989 when I met Mac for the first time at a gig when he was touring with David Lindley and El Rayo-X.  I never expected to have the chance to meet up again 11 years later.

     As my friend and I walked into HMV the day of Mac's   appearance, I saw the small stage area in the back set up with a keyboard & microphone.  This was really it!  The store looped Best of British continuously over the PA, so I became more familiar with Mac's newest songs.  Then came the moment of truth... I could just make out the gray spiky hair poking above the CD racks near the front of the store.  My friend had to persuade me to walk over and seize the moment... and I'm glad I did, because Mac is one of the most down-to-earth and welcoming people you could ever meet.  We looked at Small Faces and Faces CDs and discussed the unauthorized and bootleg labels.  In fact, HMV had two illegal Small Faces CDs that Mac would later bring to their attention.  We laughed about hiding other artist's CDs behind Best of British so it would be more prominent.  Of course we couldn't resist hiding Rod Stewart's CDs behind Al Stewart's (and I thought I was the only one who rearranged the CD racks).  This was a great moment with no one else around.   My friend said we looked like old pals talking and laughing in the distance.  It felt that way, too.

     It was a very intimate gathering of fans for the event.   Mac's performance was absolutely amazing!    As he sang and read stories from the book, passersby became intrigued and started to mosey on over to the stage area to join the audience.  He played acoustic piano versions of Best of British, She Stole It!, Warm Rain, Hello Old Friend, and an additional song not on the album.  It felt like having my own private serenade with my favorite musician...this is the stuff dreams are made of.   Think about this:  how often are you disappointed in a huge venue where the connection between artist and fans is minimal?  I tried to take in every moment and truly savor it, because this was a rare opportunity.

     Mac shared excerpts from the book such as the influence of Booker T & The MGs song, Green Onions; being a fan of the early Stones; The Muleskinners (i.e., quitting that band and the luck of being invited to join the Small Faces); and touring with The Stones, Faces, and Bob Dylan.  He told the story of when Dylan thought Mac had called him "moronic" and fretted about it for days before finally confronting Mac, only to discover that Mac had called
him "Byronic" (a reference to Bob's "Lord Byron" style of dress).   All I can say is this...get All the Rage if you haven't already.  Only Mac can tell those stories with the true spirit of the moment.  I didn't want that book to end, thinking I'd go through withdrawal without a sequel or film adaptation.

     Mac initiated a question-and-answer session, but only a few people were courageous enough to speak up.  I was so in awe that I couldn't think of one thing myself!  Mac met with everyone individually to talk, take photos, and sign autographs.  I told Mac that I felt like he described in All the Rage when he was in the elevator with Muhammad Ali, speechless.  He immediately put me at ease with a sweet hug and kiss on the cheek.  When we took photos
together, I remembered Mac's advice from his book:  There's a photo of Mac and Charlie Watts in which Mac advises, "Rule one: If you're going to be photographed with someone famous, get on his right side so that the credit line reads 'Ian McLagan and Charlie Watts', and not the other way around!"  Of course, Mac was on Charlie's right in the photo!  With that thought in my mind, I tried to determine which side to stand on.  I was so excited, I didn't know right from left, or even Mac's rule for that matter.  Right away, he joked with me and
we were physically competing with each other to get on the right side.  I think he won.  But somehow, when the pictures were developed, I ended up on the right side after all.  It was a good laugh!

     Mac mentioned to me that he would gig that night with Billy Bragg and the Blokes, at the TLA in Philadelphia.  What a perfect ending to a great day.   I had to confide in him that I wasn't familiar with Billy's music.  Mac explained that he's very political and also a sort of comedian, too.  Obviously, I went to the gig.  Kevin So, the opening act, was very entertaining.  It was just him and a guitar - that's it.  He was a humorous songwriter.  He had witty songs that had us cracking up.  Songs with names like "Porn Star" with lyrics about 'having no job and being a loser so I guess I'll be a porn star'...with that funky porn soundtrack music.  You had to be there.  His serious yet humorous accounts of Asian Americans had my husband and I in hysterics.  My husband is Filipino and we could relate to the themes in the music.

Mac and Lynne, 1989 (pre-Mac's photo rule) Lindley, obviously on a different level than Lynne

      
Mac was dead on...Billy is quite the political activist and comedian.  I was really enthralled by Bragg's words.  He talked longer than any musician I've ever heard between each and every song.  But he was quite captivating and I hung on his every word.  I have to admit some of the political figures and issues were over my head, though.  Billy has a nice following and mix of people that knew every word to his songs.  It was a bit strange to be the only person
(or so it seemed) that was brand new to the Billy Bragg experience.  I really enjoyed the song list from the Mermaid Avenue CD (on which Billy composed music to Woody Guthrie's poems).  I can't remember exact wording to Billy's jokes, but he remarked on anything and everything, such as English food (ice cream in the US being superior), McDonalds (he said it would be called just Donald's in England).  Bill described how prescription drug commercials make everything seem so wonderful till they give the warnings at the end (e.g., May cause...a whole slew of side effects).  Then Bill did a parody of a McDonalds commercial:  it ended with the warning, "May cause massive deforestation." 

      Billy introduced Mac as their bona-fide rock star from the Small Faces and Faces.  The band seemed to be having a great time together.  At one point the Blokes carried Mac off the stage.  Mac waved "hello" to us...it's hard to communicate from the stage unless you can lip-read like Pete Townshend.

     It was a nice time had by all, but I was so thankful that I had my own mini-gig earlier in the day.  It was great to see Mac with the Blokes, as they were fantastic, but it's not the same as listening to Mac perform his own songs.  Mac signed my Best of British disc, and I'm afraid I'm wearing it out.  I'm hooked, and I'm looking forward to a Bump Band gig in the very near
future.

                   

Ian  McLagan 1989 (L-R) Lynne with unknown fan, 2000 Tottenham wins
 


 


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