Wit, poet and sex-symbol Loudon Wainwright III went on tour this summer. The diary he kept reveals a man with a lot more than music on his mind
Friday I flew into Albuquerque (betcha can't pronounce it) New Mexico, rented a car at the airport and drove an hour north to Santa Fe for the first gig of my Western swing '95. America's South-west has a mysterious beauty about it and people from all over flock to Santa Fe, drawn there by a mysterious, powerful, and ancient Native American spiritual vibration. Once in town they immediately purchase ostentatious turquoise- studded bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and bolo ties, in addition to more practical items, such as feather headdresses and tomahawks.

For years, the Hopi and Navajo tribes have managed to survive on this bartering with the white man, but recently casino gambling has been legalised on some of the reservations, and Indians are now looking forward to a more substantial payback from their pale-face brothers and sisters. Sadly, suckers come in all colours and the redman himself seems to have a propensity for the slots and tables.

My show that night in Santa Fe went remarkably well considering my jet- lag - three encores.

Sunday Flew up to Salt Lake City to perform at a big outdoor Bluegrass and Folk Festival and, amazingly, I did not make a single Mormon joke during my show or, for that matter, during the entire 24 hours I was in the state. I did ask the audience about Donny and Marie Osmond's whereabouts, but hey, I was genuinely curious. Toward the end of the performance I was joined on-stage (second or third encore - I can't remember) by the legendary five-string banjo player Bill Keith. Bill played on my huge hit record of 1972 "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road". We did that one and my brand new follow-up hit "I Wish I Was a Lesbian", which is featured on my new Virgin CD, Grown Man. The crowd went bananas.

Monday I got to San Francisco, having missed by one day the memorial service in Golden Gate Park for the recently deceased Grateful Dead (sorry to be redundant) lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia. Of course the entire city was in mourning and the Haight Ashbury district was absolutely clogged with sad young dirty bedraggled second-generation hippies, all looking like extras from The Life of Brian. I myself had "tripped" down Haight Street almost 30 years earlier, tie-dyed, bare footed and beatific. I think I was on my way to the Free Clinic on Clayton Street for some broken glass removal and a hepatitis shot. Those weren't the days, my friend.

Naturally, at my show that night, for one of my encores, I dedicated "The Acid Song" to Jerry.

Tuesday Drove to Nevada City, California, an old mining town two and a half hours north-east of San Francisco. In Santa Fe, it's Indian gear. Nevada City offers you the prospector look - boots, hats, shovels, pick-axes and, of course, T-shirts. It bothered me that Nevada City is miles from the actual Nevada state border until I remembered that in Nevada there's a town called Virginia City.

My gig that night was held in the old Miners' Foundry and it was a wild one, Young nubile women threw lingerie on stage while older gals pelted me with jelly beans. It was Loudo-mania.

Thursday The last stop on my wild Western swing was Los Angeles - home to Hollywood Stars, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the La Brea Tar Pits, Disneyland, and the OJ Simpson trial - that book-spawning, tedious and yet completely compelling spectacle.

When I got to LA, the town was in an uproar. There was fear that the presiding judge, Japanese-American Lance Ito, would have to remove himself from the case because of tape-recorded evidence in which the police detective Mark Fuhrman apparently disparages Judge Ito's wife, herself a cop on the LAPD. Fortunately, by Friday, things were sorted out. Judge Ito remained in charge. I say "fortunately" because if he had left it would have ruined the chances for my brand new topical song about the trial. Here's a smidgen of the chorus:

Oh there's white folks, black folks, brown folks

At the bar and on the stand

And on the bench in glasses, there's the bearded yellow man

Go ahead - accuse me of playing the race card.

Friday Last gig of the week at a club in Santa Monica called McCabes. Lots of encores, standing ovations, and underwear everywhere.

Saturday Flew home to New York and boy, was I glad to be home! I dropped my bags, grabbed a friendly frostie from the fridge, and plopped down in front of the TV.