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Perhaps the most unusual thing I can tell you about myself is that once during a German book tour for a book that didn’t exist I not only presented a bilingual reading from the evaporated manuscript but sang a couple songs while strumming a warped, untuneable and bedazzled acoustic guitar handed to me on the stage of an underground punk club in Frankfurt where the previous evening’s guest artist had been Lemmy Kilmister, who some of you more ardent headbangers will recognize as the lead singer of the English heavy metal band Motörhead.

Well isn’t that something, as my mother would say.

In fact, the preceding snippet of a synopsis doesn’t begin to convey the convoluted weirdness of my one and only European book tour. It is a story to be told in chapters. Maybe someday.

We did get paid up front, so there’s that.

I regret to inform you that in the time since I rocked Germany, Lemmy Kilmister has — as one of his song titles would have it — been “Killed by Death,” but his music lives on and will in fact rattle your brain. I cultivate a rustic and reflective image and in fact just today I read three poems, attended a literary festival, and picked a tulip, but I am a cosmopolitan fellow, open to a wide range of cultural experiences, and when it comes to chores, Motörhead’s cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash” really helps pull the weeds, although before you crank the boom box you’re going to want to make sure neither the vicar nor the children are within earshot. Certainly the chickens will be alarmed.

Lemmy is one of those folks of whom I like to say, “I’m glad he lived that way so I don’t have to.” You could say he was fully invested in his art, going to daily extremes to cultivate an image thematically consistent with Motörhead’s greatest hit, “Ace of Spades,” a lullaby in the way a high-speed car crash is a drive in the country.

Lemmy’s art required some real bad habits, which eventually caught up with him, although even as his health failed he kept at the bad habits with, as he said at the time, “dogged insolence in the face of mounting opposition to the contrary,” and now you know he was a man of eloquence.

“I don’t do regrets,” quoth Mister Kilmister as he approached the terminal off-ramp, and I can go along with that as long as we agree that doing regrets is not the same as having regrets. Because I have a prickly little passel of ’em, and while there’s no use in wallowing, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the hurt so we don’t hurt again.

“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it?” said Lemmy. “I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”

It has been good, Lemmy, and thank you for the reminder. Rest in noise. We’ll always have Frankfurt.

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An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio” (tentshowradio.com). Read more from Michael Perry at www.sneezingcow.com.

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