In which singer Ian
Astbury realizes the third time’s the charm.




It was on The Bowery in New York. It was early evening, and I was
running down the street to meet some friends at a bar when this cab went by. It
must’ve been doing about 60 miles an hour, and it hit this woman in front of
me. She went up in the air, came down, hit the road, and he drove over her. It
broke her head open like a melon.


I’ve been run over as a kid – twice. So I remember the
impact. It happened in slow motion. I actually hit the car, then hit the
sidewalk. I was sittin’ in a pool of my own blood, not fully realizing what had


So as this woman was flyin’ through the air like a rag doll,
I was reliving the memory of when I was hit by a car at speed. Then it was
like, “Oh… my god.”


The people around were in absolute shock. Everybody was
frozen. The car eventually ground to a sliding, skidding halt, sideways. At
this point, the body was lying in the street. There was blood everywhere. And I
was just in complete shock; I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.


I was just so incredibly overwhelmed and in shock. My
response was to keep running around the corner on Crosby Street, where I ran
into these guys that were in a fistfight -a full-on, no-holds-barred fistfight
– right there in the street. I wasn’t looking where I was going, so I ran right
into the middle of this fight.


One guy was all bloodied up, a total disaster. He just
stared at me. The other guy tried to grab me. I was out of there.


Again, I was running. I ran into the bar where my friends
were and just sat down and put my head in my hands. My friends asked, “Are you
cool? Are you okay? What’s up?” I said I couldn’t speak about it. They had just
started drinking, so they had business to get on with. They went on with their
conversation. It was 7:30 p.m.
in New York
and everyone’s getting ready for the evening, everyone’s spirits are up, and I
was just in a completely separate state, an alternate reality.


I couldn’t explain for at least half an hour what I’d just
been through. It was incredibly surreal. After about three cigarettes and a
couple of beers, I was able to articulate it.


It was like a film. I was detached from it, but so much a
part of it. I have total recall of it, and it plays again in my head every now
and then.


I’d already been hit twice. My outcome was a lot better; I
didn’t break any bones. I just had big gashes in me and I couldn’t walk
properly for about six weeks. And actually, it really affected my body later in
life. It damaged my hip pretty badly and I had to have surgery. 


But on that day in New
York, if I’d stepped off the curb five seconds
earlier, that could have been me.


Ian Astbury is the lead singer of The Cult, whose ninth studio album Choice
of Weapon is out now on Cooking Vinyl. (A
print version of this story appears in the BLURT #12.)






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