And if the kids were spreading out horizontally, Leonard would keep himself on the vertical axis, in the gulf, positioned acutely between Creation's need and the poured-down grace of God. "Please make me empty," prayed a voice in his novel Beautiful Losers. "If I'm empty then I can receive, if I can receive it means it comes from somewhere outside of me, if it comes from outside of me I'm not alone!" Women flung themselves at him, ministered to him. He was incurable. Rod's mood, on the other hand, could be mended quite easily. When on-the-road ennui set in with the Faces, the solution was straightforward: mayhem. "Somehow," he musingly recalls in Rod, "one found that nothing passed a dull afternoon in Pittsburgh quite so efficiently as stuffing a lift full of mattresses and sending it down to the lobby."
Here and elsewhere one notes the influence of P.G. Wodehouse — that saint of levity — on Rod's prose. Rock'n'roll debauches are rendered in the spirit of Bertie Wooster on Boat Race Night. Disturbed, for instance, by the large hole that has appeared in Ron Wood's septum, the Faces decide to rethink their policy vis-à-vis drugs. "One idea, clearly, would have been to stop taking cocaine. Another idea, though — and for some reason this seemed to appeal to us . . . more — was to find another way to take it that didn't involve the nose." (Result: homemade capsules taken anally.)
If I had both men in my power, I'd make Leonard do a version of Rod's "Hot Legs," and Rod cover Leonard's "Chelsea Hotel #2." "You told me again you preferred handsome men/But for me you would make an exception." Can't you hear Rod making his rueful way through those lines, wispily stressing the sibilants, nuzzling us with the last soft shreds of his voice? And then Leonard, in the special thrill of his monotony, singing, "Well, you can love me tonight if you want/But in the morning make sure you're gone"? I think it would work. "Chelsea Hotel #2," interestingly, was written about Janis Joplin, who gave Leonard head on the unmade bed, but was too much for Rod: "[She]was always chasing Ronnie and me around the place, trying to shag one or the other of us. . . .We were terrified of her and would hide behind the potted plant in the lobby."
Punk rock was unkind to Rod, and looking back he thinks he can see why. "While punks were dressing in ripped T-shirts and bondage trousers patched with beer towels, you would have found me in my Rudolf Nureyev phase: harem pants, silk slippers, silver clips round the ankles, bit of a sash going on at the waist." The unkindness was merely cultural, though: 1978's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" was a monster hit for Rod, while also setting a new bar, in the video, for what he calls his "buttock work." (The ass, Rod believes, is a "powerfully communicative tool.") After this hot-pink Everest of solo success, Rod has little choice but to ramble genially downhill.