...is to make you an artist - only a mediocre one". I'll always remember that quote. It comes from Bowie's epic 1980 NME interview with Angus MacKinnon. Here was an artist not only at the absolute pinnacle of his musical powers - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) is a stunning piece of work [how many artists in today's stodgy pop climate could bring so much from the margins of pop culture into the very heart of the mainstream and still sound as daring as that music does], but also still basking in the critical afterglow of his Broadway success in The Elephant Man. So *that's* mediocrity...
To the rest of us mere mortals, it's ultimately encouraging to hear an artist as committed to adventure complaining of the "ball and chain of middle class morality" that's holding him back, or expressing his artistic insecurities with such candour. For younger readers (if there are any of you, indeed, if any of you can *actually* read...) it might be worth having a look at the article linked above, if only for a peak into a world where an organ (and I use the term advisedly) such as NME could function as so confessional a space within the huckstering world of pop promotion. Imagine, for a start, any of today's career-attenuated, 4-wheel-drive worshipping musicians having anything worthwhile to confess in the first place, let alone so public a booth and a confessor with and within which to share it. The NME, like so much of the spikey, bottom-up culture with which I grew up, is long dead now. A less glamourous, less informative, less avidly read Smash Hits for those carefully dishevelled metrosex-rugged indie kids to pose with in their builders crack revealing, ready ripped jeans before their band hitches a Toyota or Vodaphone advert-muzak gig that will save them having to "sell out" by donning a suit to coin it in the city.
But there is hope, I guess, of the featherless, Emily Dickinson/Woody Allen kind. For all the dissing in these quarters, I think the Munterspace arena, if nothing else, allows for the kind of grass roots democracy that we fondly recall of the punk movement. If anything, the way that the download is transforming music consumption could see a revolution within the pop culture that is far more extreme and lasting than punk ever was. Because here, at last, is a means to do away with the big corporations altogether - even the little labels and distributors may ultimately be on their last legs. Because now, *anyone* can build up a following, large and trendseeking (Klaxons, e.g. 2,000,000 visits - many, I'm guessing courtesy of the Grauniad guide cover) or small and devoted* (Your Humble Scribe e.g. - c.9,000 visits in three months or so) and not only have a direct means of advertising their wares/performances etc., but also (if they wish) communicate directly with the people who, in years gone by, would have been huddled around the stage door hoping to feel the hem of their idol's garment.
I think this is a *fabulous* development and whilst the johnny-come-lately, middle class, "our-kids-are-organic-and-biodegradable" toss bags at the Grauniad will *always* latch onto the exciting stuff *just* as it's beginning to lose it's intimacy and freshness and become yawnsville, so there will always be something extraordinary peeping through the soil, dazzling us with it's freshness before the cold hands of the industry and the mass media rip them up and away with them to the hothouse. It's a very exciting time - we could be living through the pop music equivalent of the Gothenburg Press, but, as yet, still blinded as we are by the glare and blare of the meretricious colour supplement charade that passes for critical journalism at the moment you wouldn't know it.
I've rather strayed from my original purpose here somewhat, which was to say how *absolutely* and *totally* demoralised I feel right now, but there has been a catharsis of sorts in the writing of this, so I suppose it's worth carrying on a bit longer...
Reader's (that's singular, btw) choice for tomorrow's post:
a) Johnny Dee is a cunt for not plugging the Swipe Show.
b) Johnny Dee is a cunt for *repeatedly* not plugging the Swipe Show.
c) Johnny Dee is a cunt. He just *is*.
The choice is yours, baggiebird,
L.U.V. on y'all,
*yes, I am *of* *course* kidding...
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