Iggy Pop 1


‘What happened to Zeke ?/
He’s dead on a Jones/
How about Dave ?/
OD’d on alcohol/
Well what’s Rock doin’ ?/
Ah he’s living with his mother/
What about James ?/
He’s goin’ straight”
(Dum Dum Boys)

Iggy Pop’s face doesn’t look as if it’s reaped the benefit of too many Quiet Nights In but yesterday, it seems, was one of them.

“I cooked and invited a friend over to have dinner. I excused myself around midnight cos I had work this morning. Read for a while before bed – a chapter of John Dos Passos. Yeah, ‘The Big Money’. And Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The Modern American Novel’. Really enjoyed what he had to say about the Hemingway hero, and went to sleep and thought about that. And ah, listened to some Benedictine monks singing this 14th century work. I’ve just come back from Budapest. Yup. Ten days. By myself. I’m listening to alot of religious music. I like that.”

It sounds more like A Day In The Life of Sister Wendy than At Home With Iggy Pop.

He seems proud of his routine but almost embarrassed, so sheepish about it, I begin to wonder whether he’s stringing me along; whether he’s suddenly going to shout, ‘you didn’t believe all of that did you ?!’ and roar with laughter. But he lets out a contented sigh and says: “Yup. A quiet life”.

And then he grins.

Iggy’s grin – a wild-eyed, huge-hearted expression of mischief and delight – is the unhinged grin of a crazy man; the grin of a biker in a B-movie or a gringo in a Western who is about to start a bar fight.

The grin confirms the story because it’s the grin of a man who knows: the peace and quiet cannot last.

Of course, the grin says, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, for most of his life, it was NEVER this way, at least not for very long. Not, the grin infers, with Iggy Pop around.

In the rock ‘n’ roll circus, Iggy Pop is The Strong Man; the noble one. The only freak in the show with any real dignity. His talent – his act – is his strength, his will-power and resilience. His dedication to it acknowledges both the profession and his pursuit of it, may be futile, hopelessly old-fashioned and outmoded, but it is pure, and kind of magnificent. You cannot take it away from him.

He has been doing it for 25 years or more, and at last receiving due recognition.

As he says, these days when people stop him at airports or say ‘hi’ to him on the street, it’s usually out of regard for the fact that he is still doing it.

‘People my own age, people I think don’t even know my music, say, ‘Hey Iggy ! Keep it up, don’t give up !’ It’s very strange. All the historical shit that’s coming out these days – documentaries about this, the anniversary of that – people really eat that shit up. They’re like:
‘Oh !!! A historical fucking monument !!!’ ”

Iggy is not just a historical fucking monument, he is a legend, a living legend and a good one at that. He’s probably the only one of all rock’s legendary renegades worthy of the name; the only one who hasn’t become a travesty.

‘Trainspotting’ – the book and the film – recognises this brilliantly.

Iggy is the narrators’ only hero, the one who encapsulated the dirt and debauchery, the glamour and greatness of the life. As they say, by comparison, Lou Reed without the Velvets, just was not worthy.

Iggy Pop is rock ‘n’ roll’s Sinatra, the ladies love him but the bad boys love him too. He’s a real sweetheart but one that’s been there, done it all. Fame never ruined him. Unlike Dylan, The Stones, or Lou Reed, Iggy never got intellectual or turned hippy. He stayed unfettered, identified with the underground. From glam rock and art-rock, through thrash metal, grunge and punk, he remained a constant, an icon of wild American cool.

Unlike Morrison, Hendrix or Kurt Cobain, Iggy carried on living the life. He kept on. He didn’t just fade away or disappear up his own arse (Hello Lou Reed.) He never lived off his own legend or simply take the piss. (Come on down, John Lydon.) He strived to do more and never let us down. He did not do Live Aid – would never have been invited.

Iggy lived through them all. He endured. He not only survived, he lasted.

All of which confirms what Iggy devotees knew all along: that he was not play-acting, not posing, like any or all of the above.

Even he is amazed that he made it.
“I was lucky to get through all that shit. Somehow, some-how, I didn’t get killed. I don’t know how the fuck that happened. That frightens me now…. Did it frighten me then ? (Pauses) No.”

HE IS NOT BIG ON SMALL TALK, Iggy, but there is always, inevitably, a considerable amount of drug talk.

I once asked him about drugs – which drugs, specifically – and without hesitating, he launched into a list: “PCP, DMT, MDA, MDMA, LSD, meth-amphetamine, ‘ludes, pot, cocaine and heroin. Injected, smoked, inhaled and eaten. Uppers, downers, valium, haldo-lithium….”

Pretty specific. He was just grinning. Insanely.

“Haldo-lithium, they give to schizophrenics. The doctor said, ‘don’t take more than the dose. You’ll get muscular stiffness’, and I didn’t believe him ! One made me feel good. Two, my neck seized up for TWELVE HOURS !! It was horrible. It hurt too !”

He looked indignant, sorry for himself. Like a big soft dog who’d been stung by a wasp.

“Any others ?”, I asked him – as if I was asking if there was anything else he wanted taken into consideration.

Of course there was more. (Even his loosely-narrated autobiography is called ‘I Need More’). But not The Usual Substances. In his heyday/nadir, Iggy was abusing narcotics with an abandon and style that put losers like Kurt Cobain into perspective.

Iggy should – LITERALLY – not have lived to tell us what they were like.
“Around 1980, this house doctor at the Munich Hilton gave me these pills that were a form of steroid. He said, ‘we give these to people who are on their last legs – to make them feel good. To take them out, to death !”

He roared with laughter. Another time, the boredom, the anger, the manic self-destruction, had him hook himself up to an electric transformer and “put two wires to my temples. Yeah ! Don’t try this at home. Hahahaha. There were all these blue flashes shooting off my head. My friends were standing round going, ‘are you high, Iggy ? Should we try it’. I’m going (blinks, dazed) ‘well I see colours and shit. Fuck !’ ”

Oh Iggy. Extraordinary Iggy – always looking for the extraordinary, something more. Something new.
“I was so desperate to get a buzz once… I’d heard you could smoke spiders-webs. So we ended up in this basement, collecting them and stuffing them into this hash pipe. Yeah they were raw. You mean you’re meant to cut them ?! Hahaha.”

Did it work ? I asked, trying not to sound curious.
“Aw, it just burned your throat really badly,” he said with the disappointment of a child who feels he has just been cheated.

“WELL, gee. Hereeeeee we are ! ” shouts Iggy Pop, sounding uncannily like Jack Nicholson circa ‘The Shining’.
“Another middle-aged old fart ! ”

I look around and realise the person he’s talking about is… him.

Watching him walk across Tompkins Square Park, where the playground is better known for kids dealing crack cocaine than playing on the swings, near his home in Alphabet City, New York, he does not look it.

True, at 48, the deep cracked wrinkles in his face and hands give him an air of weathered wisdom. And his thin, round spectacles give him a fairly studious aspect, like some acid-fried American college professor, especially when he’s discussing his passion for John Coltrane or the people of Croatia.

But as he walks into Doc Holliday’s Bar, you would hardly say he looked middle-aged.

With his bulging eyes, distorted features and dusty coat, there is something unreal about Iggy Pop, like one of the cowboy-vampires in ‘Near Dark’, or something from the sequel to ‘The Crow’, which he has just finished filming.

His enormous, excited face seems to be caving in at the sides; like a peanut. His wild eyes comprise equal parts unease and intensity. His neck seems as if it is made of stallion’s muscle.

Living in a neighbourhood like his, he’s always received a certain amount of street hassle. Drug hassle. The drug scum coming up to him all the time. Not because they think he’s a customer, a user, a junkie, but because they think he’s a drug-dealer.
“I can live with that heh-heh-heh !” Iggy roars.

Though he’s cut everything out now, he is smoking again.
“During ‘The Crow’ movie, I smoked, like, a stack,” he grimaces.
“Why ? Because, you know, you’re sleepin’ in a hotel in Hollywood and hanging out on the set for 15 hours of purgatory every fucken day. Going to the Viper Room every night. Generally hanging out with scum.”

Most of all, what blows his self-image as a boring old fart is his long, untamed mane of dyed silver-blonde hair (with centre parting); like a Wayne’s World wig.

“Yessir !” he announces to the bar. “There it is ! The Hair Is Blonde ! Goin’ out ALOT more now, yes indeed. As soon as the record was done. ‘Right ! Lets dye our hair !”

Before he arrived, I had, in fact, been listening to Iggy’s new album – ominously, but aptly, entitled ‘Naughty Little Doggie’.

One song in particular is hard to miss: ‘Pussy Walk’, a dirty Cramps’ styled beat over which Iggy struts and raps about finding himself “walking down 14th Street. It was a beautiful summer day, the sun was shining…”

So far so good…
“And I found myself surrounded by Latin-American and dark women. And as I looked at their ankles, and their knees and their thighs and the curve of their body, and their mysterious eyes…. (Deep breathe) I couldn’t help but think about their pussies.”

Oh Iggy.
“And I asked myself. Can your pussy walk ? Can your pussy talk ? Can your pussy smile ? Can your pussy frown ? Can your pussy love ? Can your pussy shove ? Can your pussy dance ? Can your pussy prance ?

Iggy grins. A grin that says, sheepishly, “well… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I tell him he is flagrantly disgracing himself; defying respectability by being wilfully juvenile.
“Yeah I know. There’s no metaphor involved. I hate middle-aged metaphor lyrics. It’s totally ad-libbed cos otherwise it gets too actorly, self-conscious. Second time I ever sang it, is what’s on the record.”

So much for the quiet life.

IGGY POP WAS BORN James Jewell Osterburg, an only child brought up mostly in a series of Trailer Parks near Ann Arbour, Michigan. Between the age of 8-13, he will tell you beaming sweetly, he and his parents lived in the exact same model trailer as the one in the Lucille Ball/Dezi Arnaz film, ‘The Long, Long Trailer’.

“My dad (an English teacher) couldn’t stand that buddy-buddy suburbs shit, watering the lawn, talking the guy next door. I’m kinda cantankerous too. Born on the cusp of Aries and Taurus: stubborn, miserable, never satisfied. My father was very highly-strung. Very shy man. A disciplinarian. Kept his army haircut, made ME get these military haircuts, quarter-inch all round, bought my clothes. Didn’t drink. Didn’t smoke or cuss or fool around with women.”

Iggy was reacting of course, rebelling, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t love his Dad. He still tries to get over to see him once or twice a year to play golf. (Once a decent 7 handicap, Iggy would describe his periods of cold turkey as “my Methadone-Golf-Valium treatment.”)

“I always kept in touch yeah. I remember I rang ‘em up from Germany in the middle of the fucken night once, rambling incoherently. I was practically an alcoholic. Awful…. My Dad just went, ‘you’re boring’ and slammed the phone down. Hahahaha. He’s a good dude my Dad.”

Iggy always had two sides to him: he is totally lovable but grouchy; gregarious but isolated; reckless but shy: mood-swings he attributes, not to his drug intake, but to his upbringing – too much solitude and “wild space around.” Too much imagination.

“My life as a child was very sheltered. It was an incredibly isolated environment. I never met kids who lived in houses. I never felt like the other kids anyway. I felt weird. I was smarter than most of them – quicker verbally. I never looked quite right.”

He was moody, gloomy, always brooding. Downcast and outcast.
“We lived near this gravel pit. I never knew when I was a kid why I always felt so melancholy. But it was because I was looking at this fucking slag heap every day…. Even later on, I hardly hung out with anybody, even the guys in my group. I’d spend time in my room or walking round the streets, thinking. I was always thinking, ‘what is this band ABOUT ? What should these lyrics be ?’’

Iggy/Iggy’s stage-act was always about anger, about (not) being accepted, the release of everything inside. He was just DRIVEN to doing it all.

“A large part of me remains like this kid listening really close to some of this shit and going, ‘I like this and I like this. This is shit, and I hate it and I wanna blow it up.’ A lot of Mishima in me – ‘Confessions of a Mask’. The DAY I was out of school: platinum hair, shoulder length as soon as possible. Wrecking cars, breaking into house, drugs… the wildest thing.”

The wildest thing. That was Iggy. In the BBC’s forthcoming series Dancing In The Street’ – about the history of rock ‘n’ roll – ‘David Bowie lets slips that ‘Jean Genie’ was all about Iggy, before backtracking that it was about “somebody like Iggy.” As if there was such a thing.

Bowie stayed with Iggy from 1970 onwards. Having asked to produce ‘Raw Power’, the seminal Iggy & The Stooges album back in ‘73, Bowie eventually did The Stooges Part Two twenty years later himself with Tin Machine.

It was clear that what the great chameleon wanted all along was to be Iggy, not Ziggy. In the same programme, Bowie recalls with some embarrassment the time he was about to jump into audience, before realising ‘Oh no, Iggy’s already done that !”

Iggy had got into music drumming with The Iguanas (hence the nickname), even backed local Motown bands like The Shangri-Las, The 4 Tops and The Marvelletes.

Inspired by the rich baritone croon of Morrison and the noise being made in Detroit by the likes of MC5, The Stooges were the perfect release for Iggy’s peculiar form of passionate mania and mayhem.

“We were not what you might call five well-adjusted young guys,” smiles Iggy, who had by this time become “a louse-ridden delinquent… I was crazed.”

“The music was mainly about being loud, loud and annoying. The more annoying the better. The added element was to find something monolithic. Simple. Metallic. Loud. Like a big machine.”

Iggy would listen to the crashing clank of the Ford plant drill press knocking out fenders and think, “Wow, those are sounds even we could master.”

When he describes The Stooges first gig in 1968, it is with terrible, tender, clarity; with the sort of startled vulnerability that‘s always shone through even his most depraved scenes and made everyone love him.

“Everybody just left !” he moans. “They were embarrassed. Afterwards, my friends came up and put their arms round me and asked me if I had mental problems.”

In the film, ‘Performance’, Jagger’s character declares, “the only performance that makes it, that really makes it, is the one that ends in madness.” Iggy certainly gave it a good go. He became the most extraordinary, most extraordinarily physical, performer of the times. He still can be.

Before going on stage, he would take “a couple of grammes of biker speed, a few tabs of acid, and as much grass as possible” – which might begin to explain his outfits – “things like, an aluminium Afro wig, white face, and a maternity smock I was sporting with my golf shoes.”

Swiftly stripped to the waist, with his formidable muscle-bound torso and American Indian mane, he looked like a centaur, dancing, contorting, like a spirit.

He would hurl himself violently at the floor, like a child throwing tantrums; lash out or leap at the audience; nick his flesh open with jagged drumsticks.

He became famous/infamous for rolling round on broken glass, smearing his body in peanut butter, slashing himself, just to get a response; get out what was inside.

“When I used to pick fights with the audience, I’d always pick people much bigger than me, so that I’d lose,” he explains. “Even if I hurt somebody’s feelings, I get very upset.”

The record of the last-ever Stooges’ gig, ‘Metallic K.O.’, shows Iggy out cold on stage – “lying in state” – after a local Hells Angel got on stage and punched him out, as part of an initiation ceremony.

“We used to play for the lowest common denominator, all the fucking boneheads and the most sexually-aggressive girls in the town. Behind THEM was anyone who was just interested in mental aberration. Alot of disaffected High School kids, mentally deranged people. Guys who had just come back from Vietnam really dug us…”

Offstage, Iggy’s behaviour wasn’t much better. He once described this time in his life to me with the poignantly clinical assessment, “my whole orientation for years was entirely uncompromising.”

He has stories of robberies, assaults, drug deals; how guns were pulled on him on a bad debt. He was (falsely) arrested for murder. Life was an endless intake of chemicals.

But, contrary to what you would assume, Iggy always cared. He cared desperately about everything – about The Stooges, about music, about whether he lived or die. It just didn’t look that way at the time.
“God, I cared intensely. I felt I had a chance to do work which would justify the fact that I was alive. Make me feel great to be alive instead of feeling shitty about it.”

He wasn’t even having a good time.
“I was having a bad time. Things weren’t going well.”

By now, he was doing alot of heroin (alot of everything but specifically alot of heroin).
“I really, really regret all that. My career suffered because of it. I became painfully slow. It would take months to get a TITLE. I have a feeling heroin destroyed our band… There are things I don’t remember. I used to reach blackout point really easily and still be walking around. I’d wake up with bumps on the head, blood on my shirt and something green coming out of my penis.”

Oh Iggy.

At times, the only thing as extreme as Iggy’s abandon seems to be the frailty it left him with.

“I have a terrible tendency to panic,’ he once said to me. “I spent most of the 80s, most of my LIFE, riding around in somebody else’s car, in possession of, or ingested of, something illegal, on my way from something illegal, to something illegal with many illegal things happening all around me.”

He looked at me, a living corpse, fear hanging in his eyes; damage.
“It’s terrible really. Scary…. Most people haven’t scared themselves since high school. I’m still scared, MOST of the time.”

A FEW YEARS BACK, when I first met Iggy Pop, even though he would admit, “alot of things go wrong with me. Physically and mentally, I have definite limitations. I treat myself as if I’m fragile. I think I am”, Iggy seemed fairly good-humoured about the days of his debauchery, and their legacy.

“I’m sure there’s some damage. On the other hand… I don’t know anybody who HASN’T got some damage, hahaha.”

He would talk about the cocaine and the cocaine consequences, bemoan the fact he had to wear glasses now, “which is a drag”.

Then he would grin the grin.
“But hey ! Alot of people have to wear glasses anyway. And they ain’t even seen anything of life. Hell, I’ll even do a line of coke once in a while. It’s like, wwwoooooo ! The Wild One ! I couldn’t even get through half a gramme. I’m a shadow of my former self, haha !”

One drug-hazed incident in particular left him seriously shaken. He had no idea who he was and his vision started spinning – “like when the vertical hold goes on your TV.” People were crowding round him but he couldn’t see them.

“I’m glad I got though all that bad shit. I’ve earned my fucking medal you know. Now leave me alone.”

Even the strong man can break.

By 1975, with his managerial and legal problems mounting, and his stability straying, Iggy disappeared.

In lieu of a jail sentence for various petty misdemeanours, he ended up in a neuropsychiatric institute, “full of people who’d got there without the help of drugs”.

Enter David Bowie. Bowie took him away, out of LA, and under his wing – taking him on tour with him and eventually, in 1977, to Berlin where he produced Iggy’s greatest record, ‘‘The Idiot’ and in the same year (amazingly), ‘Lust For Life’.

“Bowie was kooky,” Iggy says, eagerly. “That’s the kind of person I tend to hang around with. I learned alot from Bowie, about hard work and applied strategy. I felt like one defeated hick. Above all, he’s a fucken cool musician.”

‘Dancing In The Street’ puts Iggy’s recovery, his determination and his lack of indulgence and compromise into stark focus.

Lou Reed is sipping carrot juice, the ultimate New York intellectual; he and The Doors’ Ray Manzanerak waffle on pompously like muso academics. Bowie, in his coiffeured blonde hair and blue suit is merely ridiculous (“one was borrowing heavily from the American system at this time”).

Iggy, appearing amongst them like a gate-crasher, shows them all up; shows how safe they became.

“Bowie, Morrison and Lou Reed are three heavy dudes, who in one way or another, I look up to artistically, and try to learn from anytime I can – even if I think a particular thing they’re doing is shit. Those are some big boys. I did feel an affinity with them yes, an emotional affinity. A hard affinity. I felt they were out there yes, dealing with society in a harsh way. And I admired that.”

Appropriately, the most daring and exhilarating moments in the film of ‘Trainspotting’ take place to the strains of ‘Lust For Life’.
The film totally captures the essence of why the track (still) retains its sex and swagger and wildness; why Iggy remained the most loved icon of the drug underground.

Over the music, Renton, the film’s junkie hero sums up the smack scene thus:
“People think it’s all about misery and desperation and death and all that shite… but what they forget is the pleasure of it. Take the best orgasm you ever had, multiply it by a thousand and you’re still nowhere near it.”

In Britain at least, ‘Lust For Life’ and ‘The Idiot’ always were the most popular soundtracks to the smack scene, ideal. With or without the heroin, they sound like a kind of drugged celebration, a celebration of drugs and the drug life.

This is ironic given that, by this time, Iggy and Bowie were both (for them) relatively clean, indulging only in what Iggy calls “sporadic coke outbursts, alcohol binges and those little blue pills heh-heh-heh”.

‘Lust For Life’ was fuelled by a diet of “German beer, red wine, brown bread, cocaine and German sausage.”

Maybe it became the ultimate heroin album because it sounds so euphoric and depraved (Bowie’s backing vocals are totally debauched). Everything feels sexy, lewd, but cold (“That’s what you get out on the edge/Some weird sin”), like the smack.

Everything feels a little too loose. Like the drug, the words feel acutely emotional and meaningful.

“I see the bright and hollow sky/Over the city’s ripped backside/And everything looks good tonight…. Everything was made for you and me.”

‘The Idiot’ is the sound of the coming down: bleak, strung out and twisted. Songs like ‘Dum Dum Boys’ (about the demise of The Stooges scene) and ‘Sister Midnight’ are dark and alienated, coiled.

“Calling Sister Midnight/Can you hear at all/Calling Sister Midnight/I’m a breakage inside…”

‘‘Bowie and I really just brought the best out of each other. ‘Funtime’ was originally sung more like the Boy George version. More rock ‘n’ roll. And Bowie just said, ‘sing it more like Mae West’. “Hey I’ve been down in the lab’…”

“ ‘Mass Production’, he just said, ‘I want you to write a song about mass production’ cos I would always talk to him about how much I admired the beauty of the American industrial culture, that was rotting away where I grew up. Like the beautiful smoke stacks and factories, whole cities devoted to factories. Hence the line in ‘Jean Genie’ “loves chimney stacks.” ‘Nightclubbing’ was my comment on what it was like hanging out with him every night:
“We’re nightclubbing/we’re what’s happening’

Between 1979 and ‘82, Iggy’s output – including the massively under-rated ‘New Values’ – was blighted by record company ineptitude and mis-management, and by 1983, he was broke and ill, inflicting more and more damage on himself as the booze, cocaine and the lust for life got the better of him again.

He revived though after meeting his wife, Suchi, on a Japanese tour, and saw his finances restored when Bowie covered ‘China Girl’, paying $ 750,000 straight to the IRS.

Typically, he followed his most commercial record, ‘Blah Blah Blah’ with his grouchiest, most folksy, confessional phase, ‘Brick By Brick’ and ‘American Caesar’.

‘Naughty Little Doggie’ is another twist away from the pigeon-holes; ten tracks of mostly no-nonsense cranked-out, cranky, old style rock ‘n’ roll. A crashing, gloriously trashy, two fingers to expectation and respectability.

“When the title came into my head, I thought, ‘oh no, they’re gonna hang me up for this. At my age it’s meant to be something like ‘The Gravity & Meaning of My Butt’ (a more Lou Reed title). It’s a cheap and nasty fast food record. The heart of the record took a week to record.”

This is a record he could not make in New York.
“Too many germs of like, ‘oooh is that really cool’, intellectualising it. So I made it out in the valley (California). I wanted to make it somewhere where people were not so bright.”

I suppose, if you were Iggy Pop, at the grand old age of 48, the best way to celebrate your survival would be exactly this: to regress; just stop caring and relish the chance of being able to piss everybody off so easily and irresponsibly.

‘Naughty Little Doggie’ is almost Stooge-like, announcing that he hasn’t changed, just adapted.

He says he has never conquered his fear of ‘‘regular people”. Some days, he even feels America is “one step away from rounding up people like me” – not something that is likely to keep Lou Reed, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, or Mick Jagger, awake at night.

“I was fortunate my success has been limited and come late in my life. I can do shit now, I could never do before. If it had come too young, I’d have been burnt out at 24. Too much money. I didn’t really want all that. I just wanted it to be good. That was consuming me all the fucken time.”

Ultimately nothing side-tracked him, de-railed him from his drive, not the drugs or (even more tempting) the chance of compromising his way to commercial success, “magpie-ing” as he calls it. “Becoming one of the limousine guys.”

“That’s not the choice I was making. I never thought it would suit me. I’m still learning to play guitar. I want to make music all by myself, music that I think is good. That’s a really important, key, deal to me.”

He also wants to do some “Sinatra-style stuff”, playing in late-night piano lounges.
“I should be able to do that,” he says, gritting his teeth, gripping his fist. “I need to be alot better at this shit. The rock shit could still rock more. It could still be a fuck of alot better. A FUCK OF ALOT BETTER. There’s alot of kinds of singing that I can’t do. But I’m gonna.”

Apart from the sequel to ‘The Crow’, he has a scene-stealing cameo (as a transvestite cowboy) in the new Jim Jarmusch movie, ‘Dead Man’ and a part in ‘Atolladero’, “a kind of avant-garde gay Spanish Western. Really low budget. Almost exactly the same part as ‘The Crow’ basically: I play a psycho killer ! We shot it on a NATO training ground in Northern Spain. Really beautiful, giant, giant pasture, where all you ever see are bulls, and shepherds with the flocks.”

He grins.
“And the latest fighters going overhead practising strafing and dropping bombs on everyone.”

THE JUKEBOX at Doc Holliday’s is playing The Stones singing ‘‘What a drag it is gettin’ old”. Iggy, it’s true, has never seemed happier, calmer, more absorbed by a more normal routine.

He is notably more sober, more sombre about his past than the last time we met. Perhaps being renowned for so many excesses, so long ago, has begun to pall.

“My main experience,” he says at one point, without prompting, “is this: when you start taking drugs, it doesn’t matter which kind. I was able to take them for a certain amount of time and hold it together somewhat. But there does come a time when, little by little, your whole body and mind will split apart, and dissolve into a little puddle of piss. If I took anything with you now, in half an hour, believe me, this would not be a pretty sight.”

He was not even smiling now. I offer no argument but he continues, insisting, as if he thinks someone (me ? him ?) is trying to persuade him.

“I can’t. I CANNOT. I no longer have the capacity. I am a burnt French fry.”

His drive and dedication to what he’s been doing all the years will not stop though, even though he says, “I have normal bits, and bits that are never going to be normal. I don’t worry about that. I still feel like a guy making some good stuff but one who’s always in danger of having the rug pulled away from under me.”

I remember he once summed up his problems now, saying he felt “like a light with a loose wire – one you have to jiggle to make it work.”

Whatever happens now, history will show, Iggy Pop has been a great light.

It is still shining bright.