Here, in the UK, we have had a long period of hot, dry weather. For 26 consecutive days a temperature of 30℃ or more has been recorded. In most of the country there has been little or no rain for about three months. The reservoirs are severely depleted and the farmers are struggling to grow their crops and feed their animals. The famously green landscape of England has turned straw-bale yellow and parched-earth brown. Our trusty umbrellas and kagoules have been replaced with parasols and sun-block; and our prayers have been for cooling, thirst-quenching rain.
A fall of rain?
That must have been another of your dreams,
A dream of mad man moon.
Was the life-giving rain I remember just a dream? Or was it, perhaps, a delusion induced by heat-stroke? No, Crotchety Man has been careful to avoid the sizzling rays of the noon-day sun and a cheap plastic bottle of expensive water has travelled everywhere with him. The heat sapped his strength but his brain did not melt. Those memories of thunderclouds and rain, though difficult to believe now, were real enough.
. . .
The last exceptionally long hot period in these parts was in 1976. Crotchety Man was spending his first summer of full-time employment perspiring over a computer keyboard in poorly ventilated offices by the banks of the river Thames. Keith Moon, meanwhile, was passing out on stage during The Who‘s U.S. tour suffering from the effects of alcohol and drug addiction. And, that summer, a Tony Banks track called Mad Man Moon appeared on the Genesis album, A Trick of the Tail.
The lyrics speak of a river that ran dry, of deserts and mirages, a valley of shadowless death, and a dream about a mad man called Moon. But, curiously, the song was recorded in the autumn of 1975, well before the heatwave of ’76. The mad man might have been Keith (“The Loon”) Moon because the drummer collapsed on stage in 1973 during the Quadrophenia tour, but that could just be another coincidence.
Mad Man Moon is, essentially, a piano piece with a dreamy, floating-in-the-air feel to it. It has a pleasing melody that suits Phil Collins’ voice and the other instruments support the theme without adding competing musical ideas. It sounds simple, but satisfyingly complete; easy on the ear but not too light and fluffy. It is one of Crotchety Man’s favourite Genesis tracks whatever the weather.
This year’s toasted skin season came to an end in Crotchety Land two days ago. The heat dissipated, the clouds gathered and a gentle rain dropped like mercy from the heavens. The lawns are turning green again, the hard-baked earth is softening and we’ll soon be able to put the sun cream back in the cupboard until next year. Perhaps we’ll have another season of long hot summer nights in which to remember Genesis at the peak of their creativity and a drummer who lived up to his band’s wish for his (and my) generation:
I hope I die before I get old.