Bruce Springsteen will never be the same again. Nor will Tom Waits. Meatloaf. Bob Seger. Neil Young, The Doors. I always listened to those artists with John by my side. Even when he was miles away. He wasn’t really. Not when the songs were playing.

John loved songs. They cut to the heart of things. They lay something bare. Much like John’s legendary sense of humour.

Many years ago, John and I went to see Tom Waits at the London Dominion. Good seats, close to the front. One of the songs affected us both greatly. Up until that point, we’d both thought of BURMA SHAVE as a good, but minor song. Tom sang it differently that night. He told us it was about the billboard ads he’d seen on the side of the highway advertising a men’s shaving foam called Burma Shave. But as a child, Tom had looked at the signs from his father’s car as they travelled and imagined they were advertising some magical, mythical town up ahead. A town where good things happened. John and I talked about that performance for many years. And how potent it had been. It was like a touchstone. We’d just look at each other and say “Burma Shave,” and knew what it meant.

Often I would text John on the way home from work just to let him know what I was listening to. I’d tell him I was listening to Gates Of The West and how The Clash still meant just as much to me now as they ever did, if not more. And we’d be off on a long exchange of texts that lasted the whole journey home.

Once, from Annecy in France, I sent him a text message essay on Bruce’s missing lyric in the acoustic version of Born In The USA where the narrator becomes frustrated about the death of his brother and can’t sing the next line and so he just lets the line go. And how that silence was perhaps the most powerful thing Bruce ever did because of the weight of all the other words in all the other songs. I was meant to be working but I had to send the text because I was burning to share the thought with John. He knew that our lives are measured and mapped in songs. The songs we listen to, the songs we love.

Who are we going to share those songs with now?

We’ll still share them with you, John.

The morning John died, Robin sent me a text saying “John Boy has started his journey, watch out for a new star tonight.”

I’m going to name that star Burma Shave.

Thank you, John. For everything. For all the songs. For all the time. For all the life and the laughter. Travel safely and Godspeed.