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I am your weakness, I am your protector,

but who will protect you from me?

- Maria Mena, "This Too Shall Pass"

 

- - -

 

"You came."

She seems surprised, as if she didn't expect to see him again. As if she expected him to give up on her and storm off.

"You thought I'd let my fiancée run off to London without a goodbye?" he asks irritably.

Truth be told, he wanted to. There's this voice in his head telling him to just disappear, just ignore her phone calls and drink and imagine her worrying about him. Just let her wonder.

But another voice told him to come here to her house and kiss her and wish her luck, because once she lands in London, he might never get another chance.

"I thought you might not want to see me." She peers up at him with those blue eyes that make him feel like every word he says has meaning, and it's too much. It's too much, too fast.

"Come on, Jude. I've always wanted to see you get out of here and be the rock star you were born to be. Just kind of always thought I'd be right there with you."

"That's the problem," she sighs. "I was never really sure you wanted to be."

It's all your fault.

But I'm trying. Can't she see how hard I'm trying?

"Well, now you know! I swear to you, Jude, the thought of losing you has made me realize--"

"I know, Tommy. Baby, I know." Her voice is low and soothing. She talks to him like that often nowadays, doesn't escalate when his words get heated. She's learning how to handle him, and it irks him. He hates that he has to be handled, like a child.

And worse, it scares him. At least if she's yelling at him, that means she feels something. He doesn't know what to make of this quiet calmness.

"But all this time," she continues, "I've been trying so hard to hold onto you, I forgot how to do things on my own. So when suddenly you weren't there anymore, I screwed up. Big time. I need to learn how to do things without you, Tommy."

"What can I do to convince you I won't leave you like that again?"

She links her fingers with his. "I don't need you to hold my hand all the time. I need to know that I won't fall apart if you ever let go."

"Why can't you just believe me?" He twists out of her grip. "I've waited so long for you--" he starts to fire back, but she stops him.

"No, babe." Now she just sounds sad. "I've waited all these years for you. You've only ever tried to run away. So now I need you to be the one who waits for a little while. Okay?"

He'll get mad about this conversation later. He'll drink and get defensive and think up a thousand reasons why he is the wronged party here, and he'll hurl them at the sky and, as usual, he'll receive no response.

But right now, she's boarding a plane soon, and there's no time for an argument, and all she's asking for is a little while. He can do that, can't he? He can be mature. If he gives her a little time, she'll come right back to him and everything will be like it was before.

"Okay," he says. "Part of marriage is compromise, right? I can wait."

"Okay." She sounds reluctant, like there's something else she wants to tell him, but Sadie calls her name from downstairs and she says, "That's my limo. Gotta go. You should sneak out the back so the paparazzi don't see you, okay?" and then, with a kiss on the cheek, she's gone.

 

-

 

EXCLUSIVE TO ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Jude Harrison's Big Move

 

She was dropped by her Instant Star record label, G Major, following the disastrous sales of her universally panned third album, My Turn. But now, Canadian rocker Jude Harrison is back with a vengeance. A stripped down rerelease, My Return, has earned the best reviews of her career and, thanks to the media frenzy surrounding her basement ordeal with a dangerously obsessed fan, record sales.

Now free from G Major and the last vestiges of her old Instant Star image, Harrison has signed with London label Bermanzi Records and has just begun work on her fourth album. She talks to us about the big move (both geographically and professionally), her plans for the new album, and how the craziest year of her life has changed her.

 

The switch from G Major to Bermanzi must take a lot of adjustment. What's that been like for you?

It's been great! I mean, G Major was my home for my entire career. I miss everything about it; I was friends with everyone there. I miss, you know, the familiarity of it. The ugly carpet, the way the recording booths smelled - even Darius Mills, who was good to me while I was there. But Bermanzi is giving me the artistic freedom I always dreamed of, and they've been so supportive. It's actually a dream come true for me.

 

Bermanzi also has a more rock focus, as opposed to G Major's pop and hip-hop leanings. Is that what you mean about having more artistic freedom at Bermanzi?

I don't think G Major ever gave me too hard a time about my style of music, although I do think Darius had to make a little adjustment when singer-songwriters kept winning Instant Star instead of hip-hop artists. (Laughs.) The people I worked with at G Major certainly knew how to create an amazing rock album. I came to them when I was so young, and I thought I knew everything. But they proved me wrong, and I'm better for it. But at Bermanzi, it's a whole different feel. They really get what I'm trying to do with my music.

 

You sound like you still have a lot of fondness for your old label.

I don't know if it's fondness for the label, so much as for the people I worked with. But honestly, what I've got going on right now - I'm so psyched for it. The new album is gonna have a harder rock feel, and it's gonna be more personal. My music is always personal, but with this one, I'm gonna get to say some things that I've never really been able to get off my chest before.

 

I imagine you have a lot of things to get off your chest. You've had a very strange year.

I have! That's part of why moving to London has been so great for me. For the first time I get to just leave all my baggage behind and remake myself. It's an awesome feeling. I'm proud of my past and how I got through it - I love the basement song, for example - but I needed to get away from it all and focus on myself. When you're still going to the places where all that stuff happened, still seeing the people who experienced it with you... it's hard to move on. To clear your head. So a lot of my current writing process is about purging all that and figuring out where I want to go with my life.

 

Speaking of old friends, your old bandmate Vince Spiederman of the Spiederman Mind Explosion is making waves in North America right now with his indie debut and a lawsuit from his hit reality show. Do you have any advice for him?

(Laughs.)   Spied's doing fine. We don't talk a lot because we're both so busy, but Spied can handle anything. And he and Karma are sticking together through it all, which I think is really great.

 

And what about your own personal life? There's been a lot of talk about whether your old producer and on again, off again boyfriend Tom Quincy has accompanied you to London. Care to comment?

I came to London by myself. But I still love Tommy. I'll always love Tommy.

 

-

 

"In that interview you made it sound like we're broken up."

"What, did you want me to tell the press that we're engaged?"

"Oh, are we still? I couldn't tell. You've barely called since you've been there, and now you're basically telling everybody we're broken up."

"Tommy. Babe, don't be like that. Look, I can have Sadie put together a press release saying that we're still together. If it means that much to you--"

"Our engagement should mean that much to you too, Jude."

"It does. Okay? It does."

You hear that? She's getting tired of you nagging her all the time. She's gonna drop you, you know. It's just a matter of time.

Why can't you just be happy for her?

 

-

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ms. Harrison would like to clarify statements made in this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly. Ms. Harrison and her former co-producer Tom Quincy are still in a relationship despite Ms. Harrison's recent move to the United Kingdom to focus on her music. Mr. Quincy did not accompany Ms. Harrison because his producing contract with G Major Records requires him to remain in Toronto.

 

-

 

It's different this time.

He didn't think it would be. Truth be told, he thought, She'll change her mind and ask me to join her in a few months, tops. She'll the one to worry about here, not me. I'll be fine. I've been fine without her before.

But you haven't really, have you?

And this time it's worse.

He misses her every second of every day, but that's not new. What's new is the part where he can't stop thinking about what she's doing in London, what her new music sounds like, whether she's flirting with some other guy, whether she's thinking about him or writing about him or hovering over the "dial" button like he does ten times a day.

He can't understand why this time it's so hard for him to let her go.

"Why do you always find it so easy to throw us away?" she asked a long time ago.

Apparently, you're asking the wrong guy.

 

-

 

Two weeks. It's been two weeks since they last spoke.

She'll call eventually. She always caves first. She'll call because she misses him.

Stop testing her. If you want to call her, call her. Don't wait for her to call you out of some bullshit need to know if she misses you or not.

Shut up.

"Tommy? Dude, earth to Tommy Q."

He glances over at Kwest. "What is it, man? I'm working."

"Um, you've been listening to that mix over and over for the past two hours without changing anything."

"Oh. Yeah. It's good."

"You done with it, then?"

"Not yet. I'm thinking I'll ask Jude about it first."

There's something Tommy doesn't like about the look on Kwest's face. He doesn't like being looked at like he's crazy.

"Jude? What does she have to do with this? She doesn't even like Milo."

"You know, but as a second opinion."

"I'm a second opinion," Kwest points out.

"A third opinion, then!" Tommy snaps. "Just leave it. Next time we talk, I'll--"

"When was the last time you talked?"

Tommy rounds on him. "She's busy, okay?"

Kwest shakes his head slowly.

"You're a mess, man. You're ignoring all your commitments. You aren't putting 100% into your work, and that's the one thing you've never let slide. I've seen you at your lowest, but I've never seen you like this. I know you and Jude got problems, but come on, Tommy. You gotta stop living your life just waiting for her to come back."

"I'm not--"

"Because what if she never comes back? You gotta think about that, man."

Then Kwest is gone.

 

-

 

He caves first.

"Jude?"

"Yeah?"

"You're coming back to me when the album's done, right?"

"I don't... What? Tommy, you haven't called me in weeks, and now you want me to come back?"

Something sinks in the bottom of his stomach.

"You were never going to come back, were you?"

"I don't know! I don't have plans beyond this album. You know that."

Be calm. Be rational. If you fly off the handle, then you're not good enough for her.

"Gee, stupid me. I thought we had plans to get married!"

She's quiet for a moment. "That's not fair, Tommy."

Of course I'm not good enough. I'll never be good enough.

"What's not fair? You told me to wait for you, and now you're not coming back? Why exactly am I waiting here for you if you're done with me?"

"No, Tommy," she says. "I meant that you're not being fair to yourself."

 

-

 

Celebrity Sightings

Canadian songstress Jude Harrison stepped out over the weekend with labelmate Johnny Bales. She and Johnny hit several of the city's hottest celebrity spots, where onlookers described them as seeming "incredibly close." Jude has a history of collaborating with fellow musicians, both professionally and romantically. Most recently she was linked to her longtime producer Tom Quincy, aka Tommy Q of 90's boy band fame. 

 

-

 

Tommy Who?

While the official word is that rocker Jude Harrison is still going strong with producer boyfriend Tommy Q, sources close to the pair say that the relationship has soured. "They barely talk anymore," says a friend of Jude's. "Tommy's had a problem with Jude's move to London since day one, but she's stopped caring what he thinks. She's been living it up, hitting the town with other young musicians and having the time of her life. If they're still together, it's only in Tommy's mind."

 

-

 

Blind Item

Which Canadian import has been getting super cuddly with a collaborator, only to shut him down when things started to get hot and heavy? The poor bloke stormed out of the studio in heartbreak, scrapped the song the two were recording for the naughty girl's fourth album, and swore never to work with her again.

 

-

 

< From Jude >

< 1:47 PM >

You know none of it's true, Tommy. You know.

 

< From Tommy >

< 2:10 PM >

Not even the scrapped song?

 

< From Jude >

< 2:11 PM >

He tried to kiss me out of nowhere. I pushed him away and he freaked out. That's it. I'm the one who scrapped the song and kicked him out of the studio.

 

< From Jude >

< 2:15 PM >

Come on Tommy. You of all people know how the tabloids spin things.

 

< From Jude >

< 2:25 PM >

I'm actually not even doing anything scandalous out here! I go to a lot of shows - the music, Tommy, the music scene here is amazing - but between that and the studio I don't even have time to party. I don't know where the papers get this stuff.

 

< From Jude >

< 2:32 PM >

I did go to the London Zoo once. Now that got pretty wild.

 

< From Jude >

< 2:33 PM >

Get it? Wild?

 

< From Jude >

< 2:38 PM >

Please, Tommy.

 

-

 

He's figured it out.

It's different this time because before, even when he felt like the lowest scum of the earth, he always knew she was out there somewhere, still believing in him.

It made him pity her for her error in judgment.

It made him despise her for refusing to just leave him alone.

It made him want to abandon her so she could never be hurt by him. So she'd learn to mistrust people, because that was the only way for her to really be safe.

But it also gave him a reason to never sink so low that he couldn't climb his way back up to her.

This time, she's the one who left. This time, he isn't sure if she's coming back. This time, he could actually lose her. Might have already lost her.

He's never been more scared in his life.

 

-

 

Fancy club lighting doesn't look so fancy on an empty dance floor. Dance music only grates on the nerves when there's no actual dancing to be done. And the only people who spend Christmas Eve in a swanky bar are lonely businessmen who have forgotten how to connect with other human beings, and lonely middle-aged women who used to be married to men like that.

These are things Tommy is learning. Although, to be fair, he probably won't remember them in the morning.

Jude's been calling all day. Even now, it's got to be some ungodly hour in London, but she keeps calling. He just he keeps pressing "ignore," but it's getting harder and harder to see which button that is.

He suddenly has this mental image of himself accidentally pressing the wrong button. The phone would accidentally pick up and he wouldn't notice, but she would hear that horrible dance music and, eventually, his slurry voice asking for another shot.

She would be so disappointed in him. It would be the ultimate proof that he's not up to this, that he can't hack it without her. That she was the only thing helping him pass for a decent human being.

Part of him thinks, Good. Let her hear.

But he drops a few bills on the bar, struggles into his jacket, and stumbles out onto the cold sidewalk anyway.

When he wakes the next morning, hungover but in one piece, he thinks sentimentally, Hey. At least you'll never be without her now. Even if she never comes back, she'll always be the best voice inside your head, saving you over and over again.

But then he thinks, That voice isn't her. It's you. You just never heard it until she forced you to.

 

-

 

< From Tommy >

< 10:31 PM >

Sorry about last night. Need time to figure something out. Call you.

 

-

 

"I'm gonna finish Frozen."

Silence from the other end of the line.

"Oh," she manages eventually. "Without... um, without me?"

"Yeah."

The pauses between them now are an alien thing. They've always been talking or singing or playing to each other. Or yelling.

Never just digesting each other's words. Never this silence.

He clears his throat. "I know we wanted to do it together, but I... Shit, Jude. You say you haven't created anything without my input in a long time. And the same goes for me, without you. I want to try this on my own."

"I understand, Tommy. I do, I just... Frozen was supposed to be our thing."

"I know. But now I need it to be my thing."

"Is this some kind of petty revenge for me leaving?"

"Of course not! What, you're the only one who gets to do things on your own? "

"No, but this is different! When I got Frozen back for you, all I wanted was for us to be partners on it."

"Oh. See, I thought you got it back for me, not for you."

"I did, Tommy, but... Since I was sixteen, I've been waiting for you to be ready to work on Frozen -  just one more thing I've been waiting for you to be ready for -  and now that you are, you're telling me you don't need me?"

"I'm telling you I need you too much!" he bursts out.

A beat. "What?"

"With you gone, the music is the one reason I have to get out of bed in the morning."

When she speaks, her voice is softer than he remembers hearing in a long time. "That's how I felt when you went gallivanting off to New Brunswick. It's what caused me to ruin my album."

I'm sorry , he wants to say. So he does. He says it, finally.

"I'm sorry, Jude. For all of it. It just... it sucks."

That gets a snort out of her. "It does."

They're both quiet for a long moment.

"We can't keep doing this, Tommy. I can't keep freaking out every time you do something that I can't be a part of."

"And I can't keep feeling like I'm worthless without you around to remind me that I'm not."

"Then maybe..." She trails off, and for a few seconds he just listens to the sound of her breath thousands of miles away. "Maybe it's time to let go of the things we wanted when I was sixteen."

"Maybe so."

She's on the verge of tears; he can hear the tremor in her voice. He wonders if she can hear his.

"It's gonna take a long time," she warns. "I don't know when I'll be ready to come back. I've wanted to tell you that for a while now, but I didn't know how."

He tamps down the inner voice that says, See? She doesn't want to come back to you. "I'll have to work on Frozen in my spare time, and I'm gonna have to make so many changes... It won't be quick, either."

"We're really doing this?" she asks, and she sounds for all the world like a fifteen-year-old begging him for reassurance.

He squeezes his eyes shut against that image. "Yeah. We are."

"Okay," she says. "Okay."

 

-

 

NBR:   Nana's Basement Records is stoked to announce the most recent addition to its roster: @TomQuincy in a triumphant return to the mic!

 

NBR:   Look for more info soon about @TomQuincy's exciting solo album!

 

MusicGeek105:   OH MY GOD, @TomQuincy is making a solo album! IT'S ALL I'VE EVER WANTED IN LIIIIIIFE! AHHHHH!

 

Judefan1992:   Isn't NBR run by some of @JudeHMusic's old friends? Guess she and @TomQuincy are still together after all. Yay! =)

 

MusicGeek105:   @Judefan1992 Unless she abandoned them for London, too, and now they're all gonna make an "I hate Jude" album together.

 

Judefan1992:   @MusicGeek105 Can we not start another Jude fans vs. Tommy Q fans flame war over this news, please?

 

MusicGeek105:   @Judefan1992 Stop shipping people you don't even know and we'll talk.

 

Spiederwife:   Here we go again... #Jude Harrison #Tommy Q #drama

 

JudeIsMyHomegirl:   @Spiederwife Back to where we've never been...

 

smokefromyourfire:   @Spiederwife BACK TO WHERE WE'VE NEVER BEEN

 

MyTurningCurve:   @Spiederwife Twitter singalong! "Back to where we've never been!"

 

-

 

< From Jude >

< 5:12 PM >

NBR? Really?

 

< From Tommy >

< 5:15 PM >

What? You're the only one who gets to try out a new label?

 

< From Jude >

< 5:17 PM >

Touché. Don't kill Jamie please.

 

< From Tommy >

< 5:19 PM >

I think my best work is born of aggression.

 

-

 

"Ground rules," Jamie says with an air of authority, and Tommy's trying really hard not to punch the self-important little twerp in the face.

"Okay..."

"No talking about Jude. I don't know what the hell is going on between you two these days, and I don't care. But if she's telling me things she isn't telling you or vice versa, neither one of us needs to know."

"I am gonna be singing about her, you know. Probably a lot."

"Remind me again why I signed you?"

"Because you're broke."

Jamie sighs. "Right. Okay, well, if a song is about Jude, I don't want to know that either. In your very, very special case, I'm not in the least bit interested in what drives my artist, thanks."

"Jamie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The look of distaste on Jamie's face is almost worth the prospect of being called "Jamie's artist" for the forseeable future.

 

-

 

"Ground rules," she says in a voice that means she's probably got an actual, physical list in her hands.

"Déjà vu much?" he mutters.

"What?"

"Nothing. Continue."

"Okay... If we're gonna do this whole separation thing right, we're gonna need some rules, otherwise we'll just go back to our old pattern of biting each other's heads off and then destroying things to get out our frustration."

"Is that what we're calling it? A 'separation?'"

"I don't know. A hiatus, a cooling-off period, time apart..."

"A waiting game..."

"That describes our entire relationship, Tommy."

"Ouch."

"Okay. Rule one: No talking about each other's music, no matter how much we beg each other for details."

"Agreed. The music is sacred."

"Not sacred, just... fragile. Or something."

"Gotcha."

"Rule two: No frantically calling or texting. Let's try to employ our mobile devices like normal people. And that goes for all situations. Even if you get mad and hang up and I don't hear from you for weeks."

"Which I will probably do."

"Which you will definitely do. Continuing on: No calling each other every day. We talk when one of us needs to, or when we haven't checked in for a few days. We're busy adults, and we have to act like it."

"Yes ma'am."

"But Tommy, for the record?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm gonna miss hearing your voice."

 

-

 

The first time he storms furiously out of Nana's basement, Jamie doesn't bother to go after him.

The second time, he hears Zeppelin admonishing Jamie as he leaves, "Go after him!" and Jamie's disgusted response: "He's gotta deal with his own issues. He can't keep expecting people to baby him because he's such a freaking tortured soul."

The third time, Jamie bravely blocks his exit. Zeppelin, bless her heart, stands behind Jamie like she's ready to catch him if Tommy punches him to the ground, and it just pisses Tommy off because why can't he and Jude be as easy as those two geeky soulmates?

"You've gotta quit it," Jamie declares. 

"Or what?" Tommy lashes back.

"Or I'll drop you. Simple as that." He's serious. He's actually fucking serious, and that's what makes Tommy listen, at least a little bit; he can't help respecting somebody who's willing to eject a potential cash cow to protect the integrity of the label.

"Look," Jamie continues, "I know I said I don't want to know what your songs are about. I still don't. But I can tell they're not real. You're holding something back. And dude, you've got issues. If you can't deal with them now - through this album, through Jude's absence - then I don't think you'll ever be able to."

"What do you want from me, huh?" Tommy shouts, throwing his arms wide.

"I want you to rewrite these songs! They're not personal enough, and it shows."

And that. That's really the final straw.

Jamie's unknowingly just echoed the first criticism Tommy ever gave Jude, and all Tommy can do is laugh.

 

-

 

She calls him in the middle of the night, London time, her voice raw.

"I can't do it. I can't," every other word a sob.

"What? Jude, shh, talk to me."

"It's too much. I'm here and I'm alone, Tommy, I'm all alone and nothing is familiar and everybody wants something from me, and I can't do it alone, Tommy, I can't."

He thinks he can feel his heart physically crack open and bleed, because he knows this feeling, all of it. It's what he's always hoped to protect her from, and for a few seconds all he can do is try to catch his breath because the knowledge that he failed, that she's going through this partially because of him, that he's hurt her again makes it hard to breathe.

"Tommy? Are you there?"

"Yeah, Jude. Yeah, I'm here."

"What do I do?"

He wishes he had an answer. "You close your eyes and breathe deep, and then you keep going."

"That's it? That's all you've got?"

"That's all there is. Remember that it's about you and the music, and everything else is secondary."

"I wish you were here," she sniffles.

"Me too, girl."

"I hate this!"

"Shh, me too. Shh."

He can hear her biting her lip. "Come out here, then! I've changed my mind. I want you to come be with me."

"Jude, I--"

"Come on! You can finish Frozen here. We'll finish it together! And you can sing on my album and we'll, we'll write together again! I miss you, Tommy, and I know you miss--"

"Jude."

"Yeah?"

"We can't. You know we can't."

Even her breath is trembling. "I'm so sick of hearing you say that."

"I've only ever wanted to protect you, Jude. But right now, the best thing I can do for you is not protect you."

She half-sobs, "Why does it have to be so hard, Tommy?"

He rests his head in his palm and squeezes his eyes shut. Every fiber of his being is screaming at him to go to her, to protect her, but for once he's going to do this right.

"Jude, go lie down."

"What?"

"Go lie down. Keep the phone on, and talk to me. Okay?"

"But--"

"Just talk. I'll be here until you fall asleep." And he does, until the sun comes up at his end of the world.

When her voice finally trails off, he whispers into the phone line, "I love you, Jude."

 

-

 

< From Jude >

< 3:36 PM >

I love you too, Tommy.

 

-

 

"How's the album coming?"

"You know you're not allowed to ask me that."

She groans. "I know, I know, but just a little hint? Come on!"

"It's going fine," he assures her.

"'Fine?' That's all I get? I must be slipping. Even Jamie won't give me any details."

"Hey, no fair asking Jamie!"

"I have to call him every now and then just to make sure you haven't murdered him. But don't worry, he doesn't like talking about you."

"I don't like talking about him, either. I see his face enough as it is. I want you to tell me about your album."

"It's, um. It's finished, actually."

Oh.

"Uh, that's great! Wow. When?"

"A few weeks ago. I just... didn't want to say anything yet. I mean, there's this part of me that wants to tell you everything. And then there's this part of me that likes you not knowing anything more than everybody else does. Does that make sense?"

"It... yeah. It does. This is the first one that's just yours. You wanna keep it that way until it's released."

"Yeah." She sounds pleasantly surprised. "Yeah, exactly."

"I feel the same way about Frozen."

"Tommy." Her voice sounds suddenly anxious.

"Yes?"

"We're changing. Both of us. Do you feel it?"

"Yeah," he replies somberly. "That's the whole point of this exercise, though, right?"

"But what if we become completely different people? What if we don't even recognize each other when this is all over?"

"I hope I do become somebody different. I want to be--"

"Don't say 'deserving of me,' because you are already."

"Actually, I was gonna say 'I want to believe that I'm deserving of you."

"Oh." There's a smile in her voice. "Well. I want that, too."

 

-

 

"Welcome back to the show! We're here with rock star Jude Harrison, who's just been telling us all about her newest album, Take Four. Now Jude, this is your fourth album, correct?"

"My fourth if you don't count my remix album, yeah."

"What's the significance of the title?"

"Well, each of my albums is kind of about trying again. Part of me still can't believe I actually get to make a second, a third, a fourth album, so each time it's like, I have to be better than what came before. So all their titles kind of reflect that feeling of always trying to improve and never feeling like I'm quite finished: Learning Curve, My Turn, and now Take Four."

"Is the new album any good?"

"I sure hope so! No, really, I honestly think it's my best so far. Making it was such a daunting task, and I really didn't think I could top my last one - the remixed version, I mean - but I did."

"You moved to London to record this album too, didn't you?"

"I did!"

"What's that been like for you?"

"It's been less crazy than I thought it would be. I kind of imagined, you know, moving to a new country, out on my own, I'd get into some crazy shenanigans. But really, ever since I got here it's been mostly about the music. I've grown a lot as an artist and as a person, just from being on my own for the first time. I've learned a lot about myself. Part of that, I guess, is learning that I'm a more boring rock star than I thought I was!"

"And you got to work with some really amazing people on this record."

"I did, yeah, but most of what ended up on the album is just mine. It's the most personal album I've ever made."

"Can we expect any songs about Tommy Q?"

"Well, I wouldn't say a lot of it's about him, per se... but it's influenced by him. This album is about all the things that have gone on in the past year - in the past few years, really. And he's been a huge part of my life, so of course everything I write is influenced by him in some way. But my songs are usually about me, about my reactions to whatever's going on, not about other people, exactly."

"Whatever it's about, it's sure to be amazing. When we come back, Jude Harrison performs live for us right here in the studio!"


-

 

Jude Harrison - "Time Apart"

 

I must be crazy to want this

'cause you are the boy of my dreams.

But we're prone to ruin the good things,

cautious 'round balance, it seems.

 

I know with me it's different, the rules don't apply,

but I need some distance to step out of line.

 

So grant me this wish, and meet me back here in a year;

if we still exist, I can let go of my fear -

fear of normalcy, fear of the solid walls of our future

and let go of our past.

 

-

 

Her album sounds to him like the most beautiful, painful thing he's ever heard.

He listens to it all the way through and then sits in silence for the better part of an hour. Gets up, pours himself a drink, and sits down to listen to it again.

 

-

 

"So? What do you think?" She's nervous, but not nervous about her work. She knows the album is great.

She's nervous about his reaction.

"It's your best. It's better than anything I could ever pull out of you. You did a brilliant job and I'm...I'm so proud, Jude. I'm so proud."

"Thanks." Still nervous. "And...?"

"Just..." He wills his voice not to crack. "Just promise me that when we're good again, you'll tell me everything that these songs are about, okay?"

"If you want to hear it."

"I will. I do. It's... It's shaken some stuff loose, and I can't talk about it now. But there's so much there that I never even knew you thought, and I want to know those things. So someday, yeah?"

"Yeah. Someday." The nervousness is gone now. He can hear her smiling, and he thinks about how loving someone is like being blind. When you can't see them anymore, you learn to tell everything you need to know just from the sound of their voice. "I'd like that too, " she says, and he can tell that she means it.

 

-


The first time he breaks down in the studio, Jamie is rendered mute and still as a statue. 

Zeppelin cries too, for no reason.

Tommy storms out. Again.

 

The second time, Jamie recovers his composure quickly enough to flip his speaker on and order, "Use it, Quincy."

Tommy refuses, because that would mean he'd acquiesced to Jamie's demand, but he locks that nub of emotion away and brings it back out later, when he's alone. He writes a song alone in his apartment and plays it over and over and over, until he's absolutely sure he can sing it without a single tremor.

(I'm gonna miss hearing your voice, she said, but he doesn't miss hers, because he hears it every damn time he writes down a lyric.)

The next week, he plays it in the studio and Jamie grins as if he wrote the damn thing himself.

 

The third time, Jamie doesn't bother to say anything and Tommy keeps playing right through it, lets the music and the feeling take him, and he writes a new song right there in the sound booth.

Zeppelin cries. Again.

 

-

 

< From Tommy >

< 4:35 PM >

I need some space to finish Frozen. I know you're going on tour and you might want to talk, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but - I need you to do it without me.

 

< From Jude >

< 4:41 PM >

Okay um... why?

 

< From Tommy >

< 4:45 PM >

There are things I can't tell you in person Jude. Things I can't say, but I can put them to music. So I'm going to do that, and maybe then it will all make sense. But I need a clear head, and talking to you just makes me wonder what you'll think about it when you hear it. Whether you'll hate it and hate me or not understand at all, and it makes me want to just scrap everything. So I need some time. Is that okay?

 

< From Jude >

< 4:53 PM >

Yeah. Of course. 

 

< From Jude >

< 4:55 PM >

And Tommy? I'm proud of you.

 

< From Tommy >

< 4:59 PM >

Don't tell me that yet.

 

-

 

He still watches concert videos of her on YouTube, late at night when there are too many lyrics in his head and not enough melody.

Old habits die hard.

 

-

 

Jude Harrison: "Taker" live at Privatclub Berlin

1,219 views

 

So awesomeeeee! I can't wait for her to come to Oslo. 4 more days!

isingmylullaby                4 days ago                    

 

Is Tommy Q on tour with her? Does anybody know?

JommyFan13                 3 days ago

 

@JommyFan13 Tommy's working on his own album in Toronto. Cann't waaaaiiiiiitt! :D

sometimesistare              3 days ago

 

shes gettin fat

maxabillion2                  1 day ago

 

@maxabillion2 I will find you and cut your dick off if you ever talk about her that way again.

ViperDuTois                  1 hour ago                                    

 

-

 

To: jharrison@brecords.com
From: tom.quincy@gmajor.com
Subject: Breaking radio silence

Jude -

The album's not finished yet. For it to be complete, I need something from you. I know you're on tour and you're exhausted, but please just think about it.

I want you to record Frozen. Not the original or the rewrite you did when you were sixteen. A new version.

I'll send you the demo and you can just mess around with it. Change it however you like. Record something and send it back to me, if you feel like it.

Please.

T

 


To: tom.quincy@gmajor.com
From: jharrison@brecords.com
Subject: Re: Breaking radio silence

What happened to letting go of what we wanted when I was sixteen?

 


To: jharrison@brecords.com
From: tom.quincy@gmajor.com
Subject: Re: Breaking radio silence

We can't let go of everything from that time. I loved you when you were sixteen. I'm not letting go of that.

There's a version of Frozen that's mine now, and there's a version that's yours. It's both of ours. If I just record my version, it'll only be half a song. For it to be on the album, it needs to tell the full story. Not just my side.

So I want you to record it how you hear it in your head, and then I'll add my voice to that.

 


To: tom.quincy@gmajor.com
From: jharrison@brecords.com
Subject: Re: Breaking radio silence

So... like a duet from far away?

 


To: jharrison@brecords.com
From: tom.quincy@gmajor.com
Subject: Re: Breaking radio silence

Isn't that what all of this is, after all?

 

-


ViperDuTois -

This is a courtesy note to tell you that your YouTube account has been terminated for the following reason or reasons: violently threatening fellow users.

Have a good day.     

 

-


"Welcome back to the show! Our next guest is Tom Quincy, otherwise known as Little Tommy Q from the smash boy band Boyz Attack! He's spent the last few years since the band's breakup focusing on producing, but he's back now in a big way. His first solo album drops tomorrow, and it's got the industry absolutely buzzing.

Tommy, what can you tell us about the new album?"

"I'm really proud of it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I've honestly never been prouder of anything else in my life."

"You recorded this on Nana's Basement Records, which is kind of becoming the hottest indie label in town. What can you tell us about it?"

"The people there are old friends and they really know what they're doing. A big record label, they'll tell you what you want to hear to keep you happy, and then they'll turn around and do whatever they want with you. Whatever will turn a profit. But NBR wasn't afraid to kick my ass and get the best out of me. So I hate them now. But I owe them."

"And we understand that there's a duet with Jude Harrison on the album as well, yes?"

"Yeah, there is."

"Did you and she record it together?"

"No. She recorded her part in London, and I recorded mine here. And then we put it together, and it just became something beyond what I'd ever imagined it could be. I actually wrote a version of that song when I was Jude's age, so it's come a long way."

"It seems to tell the story of a man who loves somebody but can't open up to her, and how both of them struggle with that. Is that based on personal experience?"

"If you're asking whether it's about Jude and me, I'm not gonna go there. Our relationship is private. But everything we write - both of us, separately or together - is personal. We wouldn't be very good songwriters if we avoided that. That's part of why it's taken me so long to finally record this. Before now, I just wasn't ready."

"What made you ready?"

"Some people in my life made me realize it was time for me to go there, even if I didn't want to. Something had to change."

"If it was a difficult process, you don't seem to have held much back. On one song, called 'Guilt,' you directly reference your mother and a former lover and talk about your guilt for, presuably, bringing suffering to them. On another one you describe feeling like two different people: a self-destructive boy and, quote, 'a seeming success, fraudulence beneath a sheen of excess.' Is it correct to assume that these songs are all about your own experiences?"

"Like I said, it's all personal."

"Surprisingly so - and rather dark, too. There's a lot about internal demons on there, a lot of facing unpleasant truths about yourself. I think people will be very surprised to hear all that coming from a - no offense - playboy former pop star."

"Yeah, I mean... yeah. People always think they know who you really are, especially when you've got a little bit of fame. And the way other people see you can actually replace the image you have of yourself. When that happens, it takes somebody really special to see through that and... well, to kick your ass until you wake up enough to see what's really there instead of what people keep telling you."

"Well, all that ass-kicking clearly worked because the album is beautiful and haunting and you did a really great job with it. Tom Quincy, ladies and gentlemen! Look for his album Frozen in stores tomorrow!"

The crowd cheers - for him - and he waves to them as he saunters off the set. He catches the eyes of girls who were surely Boyz Attack fans, but others, too: guys who surely spent the 90's making fun of Boyz Attack, and people of various ages who don't seem to have ever been in Boyz Attack's targeted demographic. 

He also catches a few unamused stares - probably big fans of Jude, he thinks, and he can't blame them for their skepticism.

He tells her so as soon as he's out of the audience's view, catching her around the waist.

"I think there are some of your fans in the audience."

"Yeah, I noticed. The ones glaring daggers at you?"

"Yep. Wanna go surprise 'em?"

She grabs his hand and pulls him toward the building's exit. "Nah. I've had enough of people knowing my every move for a while. Let's not be rock stars today."

"Fine by me," he grins.

"Anyway, we have a plane to catch."

He holds onto her hand as tightly as he can.

 

-

 

Her London apartment is hers. That's all he can think when he looks around. It's pure Jude, from the guitar in the corner (he feels an odd rush of fondness looking at that old guitar) to the pile of dirty jeans next to her bed to the scent of her hanging in the air. She's never had a place that was completely hers before. It's both familiar and unknown, like the encouraging press of her hand against his back. Like the new way she wears her eyeliner now and the red-brown tint of her hair and the way her mouth quirks up when she looks at him, as if she'd almost forgotten something and, looking at him, she's glad she remembered.

She pulls him down onto the couch with her and places his arms around her waist where she wants them. She'd never have done that before, he thinks.

There are so many things that are new. But that's okay, because there are so many more things that he knew even before they got together, will know no matter what happens now. The weight of her, the shape of her in his hands. The way their foreheads are magnets, always finding their way to press together in comfort and in pain.

His body missed hers. His stomach missed the dig of her hipbone and his chest missed her fingertips and his ankles missed her cold toes.

He almost forgot about all these things, but his body didn't. When she lies spooned against him, there are clothes and words unsaid and feelings unknown between them, but his body recognizes hers anyway.

"We have a lot to talk about already," he murmurs into her hair. "You sure you want to listen to this right now?"

"Yeah. I'm sure," she affirms. "We have time."

She's right. Of course she is.

So for once he listens to her, closes his eyes, and gives her the remote control to the stereo system containing an advance copy of Frozen. Lets it all slip out of his hands, fills them with hers instead, and waits for the music to start.

 

 

-

 

LES CHÊNES CHRONICLE

Hometown Hero Wins Grammy Honour

 

The most talked-about victory at last night's Grammy Awards ceremony was that of Les Chênes' own Tom Quincy and his longtime musical partner Jude Harrison in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category for their smash hit duet "Frozen." The duo were also nominated in the Song of the Year category as co-writers. The win represents a major breakthrough for the uber-indie recording label on which the song was released, Nana's Basement Records out of Toronto. Mr. Quincy will soon embark on a North American tour, with a special performance at the Les Chênes Civic Center to be announced. It has been reported that Ms. Harrison, currently signed to Bermanzi Records in London, will accompany him on tour, as the two are rumored to be engaged. Residents of Les Chênes will remember the couple's memorable performance at the local Acadian Festival in 2008. This paper would like to extend congratulations to Mr. Quincy and Ms. Harrison, and to urge readers not to delay in buying tickets for Mr. Quincy's tour, as dates are said to be selling out rapidly.