Lail Arad's Tour Diary, Part IV: Homeward Bound

Lail Arad
Lail Arad, one of our new favorite singer-songwriters, is a London-based gal who sings lovely-folky songs with funny names like "Everyone Is Moving to Berlin" (listen to it here) and "The Pay You Have to Price." She first came to our attention through her dad, the legendary designer/artist/architect Ron Arad, an old friend of PAPER editor Kim Hastreiter, and we are newly obsessed. Her debut album Someone New is out this month, and she'll be regaling us with her tales from the road here on Here's her fourth (and final) installment.

There we were sitting eating dinner at long tables set up in the venue in Clermont-Ferrand (literally in the venue, in front of the stage where the audience would soon stand). The in-house food is always a real perk in France, but after eight hours of travel, I was counting down the days to my own bed. "Homeward Bound" floated into my head. I'd thought of the song a few times during the tour, sitting at various railroad stations -- but I'd never really thought it through. I still related to it as my 11-year-old self, soaking up Simon & Garfunkel for the first time. I always knew it was a traveling song, but it never quite made sense to me -- if he wishes he were homeward bound, why doesn't he just go home? And there at the dinner table -- a revelation! This is a touring song, plain and simple! It's not even cryptic -- it's literal, specific, perfect. How had I never realized this before?! "Tonight I'll sing my songs again, I'll say the words and pretend..."

And here I am on the Eurostar, headed from Paris to London, actually homeward bound. The passengers on a Sunday are very different to the mid-week business commuters I'm used to: tourist groups, happy families, not-so-happy families, romantic couples coming home from their Parisian mini-breaks asking me if I don't mind switching seats. (I don't mind.) I wonder which category I fall into -- I still can't quite see this two-week tour as a work trip. Hard work, yes, but work? If it's business, it's a funny business. Security certainly thought so; my suitcase stuffed with CDs, my guitar looking like a ticking bomb on the x-ray screen full of wires and batteries, broken drum sticks, a metal kazoo stand... I'm a fully-armed terrorist.

The final show last night was a good note to end on (excuse the pun). My microphone stand didn't break in half in the middle of the set, nobody's strapless dress fell off, the audience seemed to understand my English and my French (though one woman did ask me afterward if I spoke English...??) I sang my songs again, said the words, and didn't feel I was pretending... it felt wonderful. In fact I often find when I'm exhausted, lonely, or somehow at the end of my tether, that the best shows come out. And on that note, I'd like to thank Tom Wolfe for keeping me company during hours of waiting and travel with the joyful page-turner that is The Bonfire Of The Vanities. The best part is that I ripped the book in half and removed the hardback cover before I left (to make it lighter) -- so I still have the other half waiting for me at home!

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