“I didn’t know you played piano.”
“It’s been a really long time.” Leon fumbles over the keys, finding chords his fingers have long-since forgotten. “My mother played, and she taught me.”
Rain joins him on the bench. They’re at Urban Renaissance’s underground rehearsal space, but on their own time. “I don’t know much about your family.”
“I don’t know much about yours either. Other than they did drugs.” He starts a simple tune, pulled from the foggy depths of memory, then starts adding a jazz improvisation over the bass line, faltering at first but strengthening as muscle memory returns.
“Hey,” Rain says, bumping him with his shoulder. “You’re not half-bad, old man.”
“I might remind you that you are fucking this old man, so what does that make you?”
“Gold digger. I’m into you for your money and your fame.”
Leon breaks off playing to punch Rain playfully in the bicep. “My mother was a jazz singer,” he says, returning to the keys. “My father split before I was ever born. Probably didn’t want the responsibility of a kid,” he adds, and grimaces at the irony.
“It’s different. You didn’t know.”
“I might have, if I wasn’t a selfish asshole who fucked a girl once and then ran off.”
Rain shrugs. “You can find plenty of regrets if you look hard enough.” He gets up from the bench and starts tuning up his guitar. “My parents weren’t exactly druggies, but it was always… always kinda chaotic. We, we – we started off in one trailer and, and – and then just moved around to, to other ones, and they were – they were gone a lot of the time, and there, there were drugs around a lot. I mean…” He quirks an eyebrow at Leon. “They named us Skye and Rain. I don’t have to tell you they were, were – were hippies.”
“Yeeeah.” Leon turns on the bench to face him. “So who got you into music?”
“They did, actually. Dad was a guitar player, just… just not, not – not a composer. So he had a band and played, y’know, colleges and stuff, but that, that only lasts so long. And then he had a folk act, and Mom sang with him, but….” He shrugs. “And they had all these musician friends too, and I just…” He picks out a few chords. “I picked stuff up. I could figure out just, just about anything someone put in my hands.”
Leon nods. “My step-dad was a drummer, but they actually were pretty good at it and they had me up on the stage ever since I was a little kid. They got me into jazz, and it was New Orleans, so everything is blues, soul, that kind of stuff. And if you speed that up… it’s not a big step from there to disco. So you got Skye into it too?”
“Yeah, kinda. He was always a good singer. But, but – but he just lets me take, take care of everything. Just like when we were kids.” He plucks at the strings again, studying the guitar harder than necessary.
Knowing how quickly Rain can become melancholy, Leon turns back to the keyboard. “So. We’ll get some session musicians for the horns, but we can do it without them for now.” He presses a few keys, and a four-four rhythm with a snare on the backbeat starts up. “We’ll jazz this up too, obviously.”
“Turn it off for a second. I want to bring it in with just the guitar.”
They work through the intro, fourteen measures of guitar feature. Leon records a repeating bass line to underlay it, then brings in synth strings. He sings the horn bit, then he and Rain come in on melody and harmony together.
“No way, no why.” More sung horns, counterpointing the melody. “No care, no cry.” It repeats through the remaining intro lyrics: “No way, no sign. So fair, so fine.”
There’s a synth feature, then a guitar feature in the middle. More horns.
“The way I see it, this relationship ain’t right. The space between us, listen here, listen. Better close it up tonight.”
“Are you sure you’re okay with these lyrics?” Leon says when they break. “They are about a relationship. Which we’re not in.”
Incredibly, the hint of a blush touches Rain’s face. “If this helps Urban Renaissance get a push, then, then – well, then I can come out. So, so, so it – it helps set, set that up.”
“I’m actually teasing you,” Leon says, “but good to know our project is about launching your other career.” He winks to take the sting out of the words.
Rain smiles and rolls his eyes. “Move to the next one?”
“Let’s run this again. We have plenty of time.”
“The Space Between” © Roxy Music 1982. Used without permission.