who needs artists? .. i think it was bruce springsteen who once said it’s the taxi drivers and the folk working long shifts in a hot kitchens who are the real heroes of this world…and he’s right…without food transport or hospitals, the very fabric of our days fall apart…so y’know it’s easy to perceive of artists as a bunch of superfluous escapists…and i have to be honest,i for one definitely saw music as a form of escape from the hum drum of life,but as a youngster,i had no idea what i was biting off to chew.
it all starts off tickety boo ..pure innocent fun,but then once the songwriting bug kicked in,i became emotionally invested in the work…and then the work became a mirror of my own vanity and a million other conceits…it also became a mirror of how successful or unsuccessful i was becoming …it all gets far too personal…i’ve become precious about it all. after a bunch of years my whole identity got wrapped up in my worth as an artist. there were people telling me i was worth nothing,while others were putting their money where their mouth was, while saying i’m worth a lot….and then they’d change their minds, and i’d be worth nothing again… then some other mister moneybags would come along saying i’m worth something…it’s very strange,and by the time i hit my middle ages,and not commercially successful,no one cared anymore,because the world is quite rightly orientated towards the younger ones. try dealing with that one cuntyhooks.
where do artists go? if they’re artists at all,they’ll hope to never stop..they’ll carry it right up to the grave…sure enough songwriters or singers are only a tiny part of the picture…there’s the painters ,the actors,and my favourite of all,the comedians. for me comedy is one art form the world just doesn’t take seriously enough. it’s effect is so profound…the talent of driving angry, lonely,or suffering folk towards gut busting laughter blows my mind every time .
for a while in my late teens i had a life in working class cabaret clubs in the north and midlands as a disc jockey… the comedians were very different from any other type of entertainer.. singers were mere professionals by comparison..i remember jim davidson in his early twenties high as a kite on speed,unable to comedown after his performance,so he continued to entertain bar staff after closing time until he was surgically removed from the club and returned to his hotel for sleep…god only knows the comedown he felt the next day,while having to pump himself right back up to do it all over again…then there was tommy cooper…he was completely different…he would just arrive..make a beeline for his dressing room…speak to no one,and leave as soon as he was done….exhausted….the work had hollowed and dried him out like a husk.
then there’s the actors…there was an interesting thing about peter sellers…he’d invested himself so strongly in his different characters,that he’d lost total sight of his own core personality..he’d become a blank page in the face of creating all these other funny creations…now that’s what i call sacrifice.
joan rivers…working till the very end…she only went into hospital to get her throat or whatever scraped so she could continue to perform…she died in the name of her work.
leonard cohen who is now eighty years old is an interesting story. he loves the songwriting,but performing was scary to him,so he’d drink bottles of red wine while on stage to calm himself down,and by doing so unwittingly became an alcoholic…so he goes up a mountain and becomes a buddhist in order to find his feet again…when he comes back down from the mountain,he finds his manager has flagrantly stolen his millions and disappeared. leonard then,in order to survive,reluctantly has to take to the road and perform live again,only this time without the red wine to get him through…i’m pretty sure leonard laughs now,and wonders if life is the sick joke that you’re not allowed to get sick of.
true artists offer themselves up like skinned rabbits on a plate..they’ll put it before everything,even when it doesn’t pay…. they’ll embrace dangerous things if they think it might throw up some good work..often they’re not very nice.. y’know…nice… like say the brilliant van morrison isn’t.. the work makes them strange…it gets messy.
i wanted to write a song with a strong tone of sympathy in it for these sort of human beings…i hope you like it..i spend weeks and months honing down a melody and lyric to these trinkets…i can happily waste a complete week searching for a single missing line in a verse or chorus.it is an absolute joy to be doing it.