apolla: (Philip)
I have a new (to me) computer for which I bought some speakers which came with a subwoofer. I did the obvious: hopped over to YouTube for some funk music to appreciate said subwoofer. It's not big but it does what I want it to.

I've always been fond of a stonking bassline. I love how they can move me from stillness in a way that few other things can. A nifty drumline might get my fingers or feet tapping, great guitar riffs stick in mysoul forever, but fab basslines move my entire being like nothing else.

So I suppose it's not much surprise that one of my favourite bands was led by the bass guitarist.

Yes, it's Thin Lizzy time again! I wasn't going to post them for awhile, but they've been in the news again.

Bad News: Mitt Romney thought it was acceptable for him to appropriate "The Boys Are Back In Town" during the US Presidential campaign.
Good News: Philomena Lynott is still a fierce old thing who won't take that lying down from gobshites like him. And so has Philo's widow, who actually has the copyright.

Weird News: "Thin Lizzy" are recording again.
Bad News: Philo is still dead.

The Guardian also republished an old interview with Your Man which brought a little sunshine into a stressful day, which featured the song "The Boys Are Back In Town" heavily.

I forget, being a devoted fan, that most people only know Thin Lizzy for that song. I forget because to be honest it's not my favourite. I love and adore it, but it's not my favourite. It's not even my favourite song on Jailbreak because I'm the kind of mad fool who loves strange album cuts like "Angel from the Coast".

Of course, "The Boys Are Back In Town" was my introduction to the group. I couldn't tell you exactly when I first heard it. It was probably some unimportant, unimpressive day during an unimportant, routine journey in the car. My mum would've been driving, I woudl've been in the seat behind her and my brother would've been in the seat behind the passenger. Maybe my dad was there too. The radio was almost always tuned to Capital Gold when I was young, because that's the music my dad loved and my mum disliked least.

Car journeys always seemed to take such a long bloody time back then. I would read, but that made me feel sick. I have so many memories of staring out of the window, as I'm sure many of us do, as unknown and often very dull landscapes would pass by. Memories of journeys in the dark with the orange glow of a town's street lights in the distance or below as our car climbed up a road. The endless line of lights on a motorway, or the eerie blackness of unlit country roads.

There's one time we went on holiday somewhere without my dad but with my granny. We must've got lost or something because it just seemed to take even more than forever and it was so dark and ugh..... all that to end up in a caravan for a few days in a place so unimpressive I don't remember anything but that long journey.

All that kept me going on journeys like those was the music on the radio. It's a double-edged sword: a holiday during the summer of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" was ruined by its constant presence on the radio - we were out of Capital Gold range - and same with the summer of 'Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" by Bryan Adams. Our holiday in Florida was defined by "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow which I swear was playing every single time we got in the damn car and was always followed by "Oh What A Night!"

It's in that realm I would've heard "The Boys Are Back In Town." Probably it was one I sang along with the chorus, like I did for anything which caught my ear. I knew it, is what I'm saying, very well by the time I fell in love with the group.

Philip. I suppose I really fell in love with Philip. Not him exactly, though I adore him. I fell in love with his songs and the beauty of his lyrics. I fell in love with his combination of hard and soft, of tough and romantic. A heavy rock band which could produce such heartrending songs as "Still In Love With You" would always be a winner with one such as me. Hard shell, soft centre. Darkness with just enough light. The rough end of town, but fun.

Philip was a storyteller, above all things. Poetic in it, yes... but first and foremost a storyteller. There's a grand tradition of those in Ireland. Travelling bards, or the folks in town who you could depend on to spin you a great yarn guaranteed to be 99% fantasy (please, let's not call it blarney) and 1% tragic truth. Stories to make you laugh while you're weeping, to rouse your soul as they break your heart.

I do love this song, but it's almost too universal for me to truly devote myself to. It is about anything, therefore can be everything, about anyone therefore about everyone. That is its true genius. Maybe "The Boys" are returning from war, maybe from prison, maybe just from a trip out to the desert or from the big football game. Who knows? They're back, and everything just got interesting because of it.

In the specific version which plays in my head, they're a rock and roll band. Young, impossibly gorgeous, hugely charismatic. incredibly naughty. Thin Lizzy, in other words. Or for me, Shadowlands. They are everything a rock and roll band should be, and they're back to entertain, carouse and leave you wanting more.

I can't tell you that it's my favourite Thin Lizzy song, not even my favourite on Jailbreak. Without it though, I don't think I'd love the band as much as I do. It is their calling card, their mission statement. "The Boys Are Back In Town" is the sound of a group at their best, now that's summer's come. Things may never be as good again (and for Lizzy they weren't, truly) but it's ok because the nights are getting warmer and it won't be long...

Many years ago when I was a callow youth, I wrote a series of probably not very good wish fulfilment short stories based around a nightclub in heaven where all the rockers and rollers hang out. Naturally I went to visit them there. I hung out while the house band played, got a dancing lesson from Gene Kelly, hit on by Errol Flynn (I was young enough for him then). The Works. The name of that club? Dino's. Not just because I love Dean Martin (though I do) but because of this song. Why? The notion of getting to spend time with The My Boys listening to them play, while my heroes and dearest people are around me? That is heaven. Philip wrote it for me, many years ago.



I rather think I love "The Boys Are Back In Town" even more than I thought.




An observation about this series so far: I almost always end up talking about something completely unexpected and unrelated to my intent at the beginning. Hmm.


Part 17 - Nat King Cole - "Mr Cole Won't Rock and Roll"
Part 16 - Rory Gallagher - "A Million Miles Away"
Part 15 - The Shadows - "FBI"
Part 14 - Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina - "I Found A Dream
Part 13 - Kenneth Williams as Ramblin' Syd Rumpo - "The Ballad of the Woggler's Moulie"
Part 12 - Chas and Dave - "Rabbit"
Part 11 - The Beatles - "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You"
Part 10 - Duke Ellington - "The Mooche"
Part 9 - The Doors - "Who Do You Love?" featuring Albert King
Part 8 - Queen - "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"
Part 7 - Thin Lizzy - "Don't Believe A Word"
Part 6 - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - "Monster Mash"
Part 5 - Craig Ferguson - "Doctor Who Cold Opening"
Part 4 - The Bees - "Who Cares What The Question Is?"
Part 3 - Marvin Gaye - "Got To Give It Up"
Part 2 - The Dubliners - "Octopus Jig"
Part 1 - The Allman Brothers Band - "Statesboro Blues"
apolla: (Rory)
I was going to post about a Certain Irish Guitarist but decided to dodge the bullet again. I was going to post some Dean Martin or something.

And then Lou Martin died.

Almost every truly great musical legend worked with other great musicians. They might not be as flashy or as charismatic. They might not be songwriters, but behind practically every single Golden God there is a backing group of brilliance.

Jimi Hendrix had Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell in his Experience.
James Brown had the likes of Alfred Pee Wee Ellis
Freddie Mercury had Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
Elvis had Scotty Moore and Bill Black
Miles Davis... basically just worked with the best.
Philip Lynott had his revolving door of guitarists, but he also had a fantastic constant in drummer Brian Downey.
It's not a coincidence that Clapton did his best work with Bruce & Baker and then with Duane Allman.

Rory Gallagher was no exception. One of the real great guitarists, he was also a charismatic frontman with a decent voice, but even he needed something behind him. He, like the other legends, knew the importance of working with the best.

Lou Martin was a great pianist. He could do blues, boogie-woogie and rock for sure but he wasn't a slacker when it came to classical. This link pretty much proves my point.

Funny thing is, Lou died on 17th August 2012. On 17th August 2008, I walked into the Cork City branch of HMV and bought my very first Rory Gallagher record: The Essential 2-disc compilation. It was raining on and off of course, it was a Sunday and I'd been wandering the town since 8am waiting for things to open. I'd even gone to Mass at the cathedral for something to do.

I wandered, listening to The Dubliners on my iPod. Ronnie Drew had died the day before and I was dealing with it in the only effective way I knew: immersing myself in his voice. I had french toast at a trendy cafe and continued my wander.

Rory Gallagher was a name I knew, but I didn't really know the music. I could've told you he was a blues rock guitarist, a dead Irish one no less. I had one of his songs - "Born on the Wrong Side of Time" on my iPod. The title appealed for obvious reasons. There in his hometown I decided I really should buy some record of his. In HMV I was confronted by a giant poster of Ronnie Drew, of all things.

I'm so glad I was in Ireland that weekend. Ronnie mattered there. Not so much here. 'They' knew how I felt. I was at home, geographically and musically. I couldn't summon the necessary to walk into a pub on my own so I didn't check out any of Cork's famous live music scene. I stayed in, watched the Ronnie Drew documentary on RTE 1 and read the liner notes of my new CD.

I went to Cobh, a pretty little port with a strong feeling of grief sewn into itself thanks to the Titanic, the Lusitania and the dreadful legacy of the famine and emigration. I read the liner notes again.

I got on a train to Dublin, where I ate at Gallagher's Boxty House as usual, ate at O'Neill's as usual and went to see Philip on his birthday, as usual. I stared at the Music Wall of Fame in Temple Bar, caring for the first time about the guitarist with the long brown hair. I nipped up Grafton Street to visit Philip's statue and there got into a conversation with two Dub rock fans about Rory.

It wasn't until several days later, back at work, that I actually listened to the CD. A secret: at first I wasn't all that impressed. I mean it was good but it didn't grab me totally. I liked the second song, "Moonchild", for sure. Then I listened to "Barley And Grape Rag". But I didn't get sucked in immediately. I'd be silly to, right?

According to this very blog, I listened to "Barley and Grape Rag" one hundred and eighty-seven times between late August and the end of 2008. I sang it at the work Christmas gig while wearing a Rory t-shirt. It was awesome.

But I wasn't sucked in. Oh no. I was up all night watching videos on YouTube, but I wasn't sucked in. I literally bought the t-shirt, but I'd have to be really fucking stupid to get obsessed by another dead rock star, right?

By 2008 I'd already carved plenty of other names on my heart. Lennon, naturally. Harrison. The lizardy fellow. Philip. Dean Martin. Valentino. Flynn. You pretty much know them if you've been here before. I'd be really daft to left someone else come along and gouge another scar, right?

I am that fucking stupid. By the time I even noticed, I was much too far gone. I should've noticed when I was on the tube late one night, returning home from being in the Just A Minute audience and I was dancing in my seat to the delta-like sound of "Who's That Coming" and I should've noticed when every visit to HMV began with a trip to the 'G' section of Rock and Pop. I should've noticed when the panic of leaving my gymbag in Starbucks was more to do with losing the newly-purchased Against The Grain CD than my sneakers.

No, I should've known exactly what was going to happen on 17th August 2008. He is a dead Irish rock musician who was fantastically good at his job. King Cnut had better odds against the tide.

Truly though, I didn't quite get it right away. It took a little while for my ears to get attuned to his work. It took even longer for me to beleive that he meant it about not selling out, about being dedicated to the music and even longer than that to believe he wasn't secretly a bastard.

Turns out he was that dedicated to the music and I've still yet to find anyone who has a bad word to say about the man himself.

Four years later, I love that man's music more than I can tell you. That's why it's taken until now for him to be the subject of the challenge, because I can't speak about it. I can't tell you how I love it, only that I do. I can't tell you how deeply it is now scored into my soul, as if forty years had passed with me stood by the side of his stage every night.

I picked one video above all for this post. It is the song which probably ensured a part of my heart will be forever Rory's, because he wrote down my pain and gave it voice:


Rory Gallagher - "A Million Miles Away" - which incidentally features footage of Cork City and some excellent Martin organ.

"There's a song on the lips of everybody/There's a smile all around the room/There's conversation overflowing/So why must I sit here in the gloom?.... I'm a million miles away, I'm a million miles away, sailing like the driftwood on a windy bay."

I have been that bleak, adrift and disconnected. Sometimes I still get close to it. Knowing that one of my heroes was able to write a song which so exactly described the state of my soul worries me: I wouldn't wish it on anyone. That he might have felt the same breaks my heart, and I hope it was one of those occasions where a writer was able to portray a world without inhabiting it.

I have been that bleak, adrift and disconnected and that song was, ironically if you like, an anchor I used to drag myself back to shore. That's one reason I love his music so.

Most of it is Rory's guitar and his voice, his songwriting, his grasp of the genre he loved so much. But he wasn't alone on that stage. First with Taste, then with his various Rory Gallagher line-ups, the classic of which involves Lou Martin's keys.

I can't tell you what I love and why without writing a dissertation, and I already wrote one of those for Jim Morrison. You have to listen to the music itself and decide for yourself. It's between me and the music and it's between you and the music. The contract is personal and non-transferable.

For me, the most succinct I think I can be is this: It is a deep scar on my heart and I wouldn't have it any other way.

*

Part 15 - The Shadows - "FBI"
Part 14 - Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina - "I Found A Dream
Part 13 - Kenneth Williams as Ramblin' Syd Rumpo - "The Ballad of the Woggler's Moulie"
Part 12 - Chas and Dave - "Rabbit"
Part 11 - The Beatles - "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You"
Part 10 - Duke Ellington - "The Mooche"
Part 9 - The Doors - "Who Do You Love?" featuring Albert King
Part 8 - Queen - "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"
Part 7 - Thin Lizzy - "Don't Believe A Word"
Part 6 - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - "Monster Mash"
Part 5 - Craig Ferguson - "Doctor Who Cold Opening"
Part 4 - The Bees - "Who Cares What The Question Is?"
Part 3 - Marvin Gaye - "Got To Give It Up"
Part 2 - The Dubliners - "Octopus Jig"
Part 1 - The Allman Brothers Band - "Statesboro Blues"
apolla: (Smiler)
So far I've posted a variety of dead people's music... and a lil' bit of living people.

There is one Dead Musician who is notable by his absence so far. Today that ends.

I'm going to ask you all to do me a favour: Forget everything you know - or think you know - about The Doors. Forget all the bullshit 'legends' because first, foremost and forever, the Doors were a blues band. Sure, they did some weird things with them, but the Blues were their thing. That's why LA Woman is their greatest achievement...

Anyway, today's track is Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" as performed by the Doors in Vancouver, 6 June 1970 with blues guitar giant Albert King guesting.



I love that they open with a Bo Diddley lick too, because that's one of my favourite sounds in the world. I love "Who Do You Love?" as a track anyway - the Band's version of it in the Last Waltz, Dion's version recently, and of course the original.

What I love about this particular track though, is that I feel it's proof that behind all the hype and legend and Lizard King bullshit, There's this searing King slide guitar - I am an absolute sucker for slide guitar and it is not a coincidence that the three guitarists I love the most were all slide-eriffic (George Harrison, Rory Gallagher, Robby Krieger) - but the rest too. I once wrote that Ray Manzarek's organ sound was "if the River Styx had a soundtrack" because of how unearthly and deathly I always felt from it, and it works for this. I'm not sure a real bass wouldn't sound better, but that's all part of the Doors' weird charm. I love the way drawing the riffs out becomes a hypnotic loop one can really feel... or I can, anyway. But I love the jams on All Things Must Pass so I'm designed that way. I love Jim's howling and screaming because I can feel that he feels the music and is just going with it. (This is where talking about teh Doors starts to sound dickish so I won't continue)...

I know The Doors aren't for everyone and I've a good idea as to why. I even agree with some of the anti-Doors arguments. But I love them, and I love them playing the blues like the good little white middle class boys they were.

And for me no matter where I go, or what I discover, it always comes back to Jim.
apolla: (Rock Chick)
In the days, weeks and years to follow, you'll hear a lot of stories about Amy Winehouse. Most everyone with a half-decent anecdote will inflict it upon the rest of us whether we want to hear it or not. This isn't new, and it's even understandable. Reflected glory (notoriety) is still glory (notoriety) after all. If you're very lucky, some of the stories might even be true.

I'm not going to tell my own Amy Story now, and I'm not going to pontificate about THE DANGERS OF DRUGS or THE DANGERS OF ALCOHOL or ROCK AND ROLL IS EVIL or any of that bollocks. This isn't even entirely about Amy, to be honest.

How many stories have you already read about The 27 Club? How many lazy journalists have drawn lines between Amy and that clutch of poor fuckers who died 1969-71, whose names we all know so well? I have a Google News Alert set up for Jim Morrison, and I get maybe one or two links a day. On Sunday morning I had rather more than that... because his name is being invoked in many of the Amy Stories. There's a thing on the BBC website which looks like it's almost entirely Copy Pasta from Wikipedia.

It's not fully clear what we're supposed to take from these stories. It never has been. Yes, quite a number of notable musicians died when they were 27 – but the moral 'they' want us to learn is unclear. Are we supposed to just take it as a straight-up tragedy of a dead young person? Or as some would say, are we supposed to learn from their mistakes? Are we supposed to condemn them as dirty junkie wastes of humanity? Are we supposed to laud them for living 'on the edge'? I guess it depends on what you're reading.

There are several problems with the live fast, die young myth. First off, it hurts all the people who love you. Second, you can't make any more music. Third, and maybe to me most important: you lose control over your work and self. You can't defend yourself.

I have never been in a physical fight with anyone, but I've come close several times, and most of those times were related to Jim Morrison. Once, there was a guy who told me that the best thing that ever happened to Jim was to die. He really believed it, too. Another time, a couple of years ago, there was a drunken twat at the London Film Festival screening of the latest Doors documentary. He was berating the quiet audience as we left (quiet largely because of what we'd just seen – the agonised and contrary life of a great artist), telling us that we should rip it up because 'Jim would want it' and basically taking only the hedonism from Jim's work and nothing else. I've had many moments of wanting to pummel people but that was the only time I actually considered doing it. All this because if he can't stand up for himself, then I will.

Dead people cannot sue for libel. Anyone can say basically anything they want about that person and they're untouchable. An 'author' in the 1980s accused Errol Flynn of being a Nazi spy during the Spanish Civil War. There was almost nothing to support this, and indeed most of what EF wrote at the time and later suggested he was left-leaning. Accusations like that stick, and even recently I saw an article which dredged it up again. Like Flynn was ever going to take time out of carousing for espionage! I could accuse Jimi Hendrix of selling nuclear weapons to Kafiristan, or say that Janis Joplin was planning to assassinate Richard Nixon, and there's nothing much to be done. Whether people believe it is a different matter, of course. I could say that Brian Jones was one of the most unpleasant human beings ever to make music and... well, that would be true, actually.

The problem is more than just plain ol' libel. The artist in question loses control of their reputation certainly, but they also lose control over the music itself, and how it is regarded. I recall a Popular Culture class in California where we discussed the image of Bob Marley before and after his death. Before his death he was presented (presumably with his consent to an extent) as a rebel, someone politically dangerous to the status quo. A fighter, if you like. Since his death, he has been largely repackaged as a poet, as a gentle thinker type – look at the album art for Legend. The danger has been removed and because he can't argue, it stays like that.

By a weird quirk of fate, I've been looking into Janis Joplin a little this weekend. I'm not a fan because I don't like her voice, although I would be lying if I suggested she wasn't good (same as Amy, actually). Now, I'd forgotten how massive she was back in the second half of the 1960s. Since her death she has been relegated – in the mainstream – to a cautionary tale, to an example of what happens to the wimminz when they try to live like the guys, to just another member of the rock dead. Example: those of you who aren't already Joplin fans, name me five Janis Joplin songs you've heard. In death, she lost control of her image, of her music. She has been somewhat airbrushed out of history – how many documentaries about that period of time in music really deal with her on a musical level? No, she's been half-forgotten as an artist and mostly remembered as a dead junkie bogeyman to scare the kids into behaving themselves.

Jim, on the other hand... actually, it's pretty much the same with him. He was someone who was fucking with the establishment before he died and since his death he has been reduced to just That Poster and a punchline to a joke about a fat guy dead in a bath. His death has given people the freedom to talk shit about him, to adapt him as they want, to lose all perspective. You might be able to tell that this is the one I care about... I still argue that the Doors are still 'dangerous' thanks to the music, but it must also be accepted that in dying, Jim handed over his power to the myth-makers and the detractors in equal measure.

I haven't really even mentioned the control they lose over the music itself. Do you really think Queen would've released Made in Heaven as it was, if Freddie had lived? Course not – there's tracks on that record which only saw the light of day because there wasn't anything else. A lot of it is to do with the record labels and marketing types, but it is also dependent on who gets control of the Estate. Tupac Shakur has had more music released post-mortem than in his lifetime – did he want it released, and in the mix/arrangement he wanted? We can't know. I'm not knocking Donal Gallagher for a second, but I don't think the recently released 'lost' album Notes from San Francisco by his brother, guitar god Rory, would've been the same record if your man had the choice. I mean, the vocals on 'Overnight Bag' are double-tracked! On a Rory Gallagher record! Would he have wanted that? We can't know for certain, although the fact he dropped the record in the bin is a clue... Without new material, the labels and the estates seek out what they can find to release, whether the artist considered it worth releasing or not. It's understandable, but we don't have to like it. We can only wait and see what will happen with Amy's music, depending on who gets control of it and how much unreleased material there is.

Dying ain't much of a living: maybe record sales sky-rocket, but there won't be new music. The Glorious Rock Dead are frozen in time, unable to fight their corner, unable to respond to attacks, unable to tell their adoring worshippers that they're fucking idiots. They hand those who hate them the freedom to tear them down. Sure, they leave behind good-looking corpses (theoretically) and remain forever young and beautiful... but it seems to me that there is more freedom in growing, developing... and even if they can't fully control what is said and thought about them, they can at least respond and defend themselves.

I don't know what the future holds for Winehouse's artistic reputation. As with the others I suspect it will become a tale of two images: super-artist beyond criticism on the one hand, drunk junkie who pissed it all away on the other. Both are true – to an extent – but the image of Amy now rests not with her but with marketing and record label executives. My money is on her being packaged as a 'Tragic Chanteuse' in the Billie Holiday/Edith Piaf mould. I also expect a shit, cookie-cutter biopic within a few years which will basically be La Vie En Rose in the 21st Century, Walk The Line without the happy ending, or The Doors without the American Indian.

There is nothing good about this 'club' of damaged people dying at 27, and the next person who says so about Morrison near me does run a very serious risk of injury. If he can't defend himself against both the haters and the acolytes, I will.

apolla: (Rock Chick)
In the days, weeks and years to follow, you'll hear a lot of stories about Amy Winehouse. Most everyone with a half-decent anecdote will inflict it upon the rest of us whether we want to hear it or not. This isn't new, and it's even understandable. Reflected glory (notoriety) is still glory (notoriety) after all. If you're very lucky, some of the stories might even be true.

I'm not going to tell my own Amy Story now, and I'm not going to pontificate about THE DANGERS OF DRUGS or THE DANGERS OF ALCOHOL or ROCK AND ROLL IS EVIL or any of that bollocks. This isn't even entirely about Amy, to be honest.

How many stories have you already read about The 27 Club? How many lazy journalists have drawn lines between Amy and that clutch of poor fuckers who died 1969-71, whose names we all know so well? I have a Google News Alert set up for Jim Morrison, and I get maybe one or two links a day. On Sunday morning I had rather more than that... because his name is being invoked in many of the Amy Stories. There's a thing on the BBC website which looks like it's almost entirely Copy Pasta from Wikipedia.

It's not fully clear what we're supposed to take from these stories. It never has been. Yes, quite a number of notable musicians died when they were 27 – but the moral they want us to learn is unclear. Are we supposed to just take it as a straight-up tragedy of a dead young person? Or as some would say, are we supposed to learn from their mistakes? Are we supposed to condemn them as dirty junkie wastes of humanity? Are we supposed to laud them for living 'on the edge'? I guess it depends on what you're reading.

There are several problems with the live fast, die young myth. First off, it hurts all the people who love you. Second, you can't make any more music. Third, and to me most important: you lose control over your work and self. You can't defend yourself.

I have never been in a physical fight with anyone, but I've come close several times, and most of the times were related to Jim Morrison. Once, there was a guy who told me that the best thing that ever happened to Jim was to die. He really believed it, too. Another time, a couple of years ago, therewas a drunken twat at the London Film Festival screening of the latest Doors documentary. He was berating the quiet audience as we left (quiet largely because of what we'd just seen – the agonised and contrary life of a great artist), telling us that we should rip it up because 'Jim would want it' and basically taking only the hedonism from Jim's work and nothing else. I've had many moments of wanting to pummel people but that was the only time I actually considered doing it. All this because if he can't stand up for himself, then I will.

Dead people cannot sue for libel. Anyone can say basically anything they want about that person and they're untouchable. An 'author' in the 1980s accused Errol Flynn of being a Nazi spy during the Spanish Civil War. There was almost nothing to support this, and indeed most of what EF wrote at the time and later suggested he was left-leaning. Accusations like that stick, and even recently I saw an article which dredged it up again. Like Flynn was ever going to take time out of carousing for espionage! I could accuse Jimi Hendrix of selling nuclear weapons to Kafiristan, or say that Janis Joplin was planning to assassinate Richard Nixon, and there's nothing much to be done. Whether people believe it is a different matter, of course. I could say that Brian Jones was one of the most unpleasant human beings ever to make music and... well, that would be true, actually.

The problem is more than just plain ol' libel. The artist in question loses control of their reputation certainly, but they also lose control over the music itself, and how it is regarded. I recall a Popular Culture class in California where we discussed the image of Bob Marley before and after his death. Before his death he was presented (presumably with his consent to an extent) as a rebel, someone politically dangerous to the status quo. A fighter, if you like. Since his death, he has been largely repackaged as a poet, as a gentle thinker type – look at the album art for Legend. The danger has been removed and because he can't argue, it stays like that.

By a weird quirk of fate, I've been looking into Janis Joplin a little this weekend. I'm not a fan because I don't like her voice, although I would be lying if I suggested she wasn't good (same as Amy, actually). Now, I'd forgotten how massive she was back in the second half of the 1960s. Since her death she has been relegated – in the mainstream – to a cautionary tale, to an example of what happens to the wimminz when they try to live like the guys, to just another member of the rock dead. Example: those of you who aren't already Joplin fans, name me five Janis Joplin songs you've heard. In death, she lost control of her image, of her music. She has been somewhat airbrushed out of history – how many documentaries about that period of time in music really deal with her on a musical level? No, she's been half-forgotten as an artist and mostly remembered as a dead junkie bogeyman to scare the kids into behaving themselves.

Jim, on the other hand... actually, it's pretty much the same with him. He was someone who was fucking with the establishment before he died and since his death he has been reduced to just That Poster and a punchline to a joke about a fat guy dead in a bath. His death has given people the freedom to talk shit about him, to adapt him as they want, to lose all perspective. You might be able to tell that this is the one I care about... I still argue that the Doors are still 'dangerous' thanks to the music, but it must also be accepted that in dying, Jim handed over his power to the myth-makers and the detractors in equal measure.

I haven't really even mentioned the control they lose over the music itself. Do you really think Queen would've released Made in Heaven as it was, if Freddie had lived? Course not – there's tracks on that record which only saw the light of day because there wasn't anything else. A lot of it is to do with the record labels and marketing types, but it is also dependent on who gets control of the Estate. Tupac Shakur has had more music released post-mortem than in his lifetime – did he want it released, and in the mix/arrangement he wanted? We can't know. I'm not knocking Donal Gallagher, but I don't think the recently released 'lost' album Notes from San Francisco by his brother, guitar god Rory Gallagher, would've been the same record if your man had the choice. I mean, the vocals on 'Overnight Bag' are double-tracked! On a Rory Gallagher record! Would he have wanted that? We can't know, although the fact he dropped the record in the bin is a clue... Without new material, the labels and the estates seek out what they can find to release, whether the artist considered it worth releasing or not. We can only wait and see what will happen with Amy's music, depending on who gets control of it and how much unreleased material there is.

Dying ain't much of a living: maybe your record sales sky-rocket, but there won't be new music. The Glorious Rock Dead are frozen in time, unable to fight their corner, unable to respond to attacks, unable to tell their adoring worshippers that they're fucking idiots. They hand those who hate them the freedom to tear them down. Sure, they leave behind good-looking corpses (theoretically) and remain forever young and beautiful... but it seems to me that there is more freedom in growing, developing... and even if they can't fully control what is said and thought about them, they can at least respond and defend themselves.

I don't know what the future holds for the artistic reputation of Amy Winehouse. As with the others I suspect it will become a tale of two images: super-artist beyond criticism on the one hand, drunk junkie who pissed it all away on the other. Both are true – to an extent – but the image of Amy now rests not with her but with marketing and record label executives. My money is on her being packaged as a 'Tragic Chanteuse' in the Billie Holiday/Edith Piaf mould. I also expect a shit, cookie-cutter biopic within a few years which will basically be La Vie En Rose in the 21st Century, Walk The Line without the happy ending, or The Doors without the American Indian.

There is nothing good about this 'club' of damaged people dying at 27, and the next person who says so about Jim near me does run a very serious risk of injury. If he can't defend himself against both the haters and the acolytes, I will.

Forty Years.....

Sunday, 3 July 2011 15:13
apolla: (Smiler)

Forty years.

I can't really compute it, if I'm honest. I feel like I should be utterly bereft, but I'm not. I mean, Jim Morrison is dead. As of today, he's been dead forty years. That's a middle-aged person ago. I've been a fan long enough that I remember the thirtieth anniversary, and how I felt then. Utterly shite, basically. I probably cried. Hell, I'm almost certain I cried. There were riots in Paris on his twentieth anniversary. The consistently dreadful behaviour of 'fans' nearly got him kicked out of Pere-Lachaise, but I can't imagine today will be all that much of a deal. The rabble-rousers got old and are probably spending their Sundays in garden centres or outlet malls.

As is so often the case, this will be as much about me as Jim. It's the only way I can connect to him, after all. Forty years... I outlived him a couple of years ago, you know. It tore me apart for a few days (or possibly months, or maybe it still does) but I just about got over it. Maybe he's the world's oldest twenty-seven year old and I never quite have to outlive him.

It's not easy being a Doors fan. I think I know at least a little how ELO fans feel when they're met with smirks of derision when they announce that they are, in fact, ELO fans. ELO fans don't even have the advantage of having someone who looks like Jim Morrison out front. Anyway, my point is that a lot of people who have some knowledge of popular culture have a particular view on 'who' Doors fans are. Doors fans are, the generalisation goes, whiny-angsty students who sit in darkened rooms burning incense, or they are pitiful people who wear Jim-like clothes and spout pseudo-Rimbaudian crap. Well, I've done a lot of angsting in darkened rooms but incense gives me a headache and I've never got down with Rimbaud particularly. The worst thing that can be said about Doors fans, or Doorzoids as more than one critic put it, is that they have no sense of perspective: Jim is greatest at everything and nobody else ever did anything nearly as good as he did. Jim is beyond criticism and everyone should live a life like Jim. They are blindly-worshipping followers like those morons in Life of Brian who just repeat everything back to him. Have you heard that girl on the live recording who agrees with everything Jim says, even when he turns on a sixpence and says the opposite of what he'd just said?

In fact, I was at Glastonbury last weekend in the mud-n-sun, and one of the people I was there with told me he spent a portion of his youth trying to be like Jim. I'm paraphrasing, but he said with the weariness of someone who has come out the other side of a troubling obsession: “I acted like a complete twat.”

I myself have spent the last ten or so years battling between using Jim as a Life Lesson and just plain following him down the troubling road to The Mythical Edge (nothing to do with U2). I have never wanted to be Jim, but I have come close to swan-diving off The Mythical Edge to find him. It is no credit to me but I have sat alone, emptying a bottle and calling to the sky for him. He has never come, of course.

He's just that kind of guy, really. A lot of people have probably died trying to be like Jim, just as a lot of people have died trying to be like Keith Richards. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, or maybe it just is. The shame of it is that Jim was always more than just a Hellraising Rock Star. He was incredibly well-read, thoughtful and determined to do more than just basic three-minute love songs. In fact, there's not a single Doors song you could call a straightforward love song. Seriously, find me one.

The Doors have always been both under- and over-rated. While their advocates will never cease listing their strengths and moments of brilliance, they remain on the outskirts of the Rock Pantheon, outsiders even now. Their work is too arty/pretentious, the great songs too long to get much radio play. They exist in a pre-video world so there's not much to show on TV. They're not for the Normal People. I once blogged, a long time ago, how I would not be a Doors fan if I had been beautiful, or popular. The Doors belong to us weirdos and freaks, so they never quite fit into the stereotypical view of the 1960s. Indeed, while everyone in 1967 was all Peace And Love, the Doors were doing The End. See also Love, who like their Elektra stablemates, took psychedelic music and skewed it. This is the dark side of the sun, man, and it doesn't quite fit. Jim makes it into those endless lists of rock stars and stuff because he is seen as a stereotypical rock star. And don't you believe for a second that he didn't encourage it... but it wasn't all he was.

He was more than just the smirking, shirt-allergic Adonis of legend. Seriously man, he was. I'm not a Doors fan because Jim was 'cute' and I've never had a crush on him. All-consuming obsession sure, but not a crush. He was, is, and ever will be, more than that. He is my hero, and I won't ever apologise for it. He was a writer of generally good and occasionally great music. He was more than the punchline to a fucking joke.

I have never wanted to follow him blindly, although maybe sometimes I have. I've seen and oftentimes agreed with criticisms of him, and his work. He did skirt the line between arty and pretentious and sometimes he fell right over it to become mired in self-important wankery. I pity the fools who turned up late to some shows and missed the support act (a small time group called Led Zeppelin) and got instead an incoherent drunken ramble from headliner Jim. You don't have to tell me what a dick he could be: I've read pretty much everything there is to read, and I know. He's still my hero, both because and in spite of his great weaknesses. He's still the guy who gave us 'The End' and 'The Unknown Soldier' and 'Five to One' and 'The Soft Parade'. Sure, he's also the 'genius' behind 'Horse Latitudes', which I don't think was intended as a comedy, but “mute nostril agony” is hilarious. The Doors gave us some practically perfect slices of late-60s rock music: 'Love Me Two Times', 'Love Her Madly', 'Break on Through' and freak anthem 'People Are Strange'. They gave us some extraordinary bits of art-rock too: the seventeen minute, epic 'Celebration of The Lizard', aurally bizarre 'L'America' and the achingly beautiful 'The Crystal Ship'.

Have I mentioned Jim's fantastic, brutal, beautiful voice? Well I should. He could croon like Sinatra but he could also yell and scream with the best of 'em. His voice is like his legend: alternately seductive and violent, alluring and grotesque. Who else could scream at you to WAKE UP and then take you on a journey like that in a Doors concert? For me, Jim's power is not in his face, but in his voice.

A few weeks back, I listened to LA Woman all the way through. Then I did so twice more. The Doors is a great record and the five that follow all have tremendous moments, but LA Woman is an unquestionably remarkable record. Jim's voice is already ravaged, but it's perfect for some dark, terrible blues. 'Been Down So Long' has been my own personal theme tune for years. There's not a duff song anywhere on the record, although 'Riders on the Storm' has always veered dangerously towards cocktail lounge music for my liking – I think it's Ray's organ sound – but it's still a good song. If they'd been able to follow that up, the Doors would likely have regained the ground lost by the Jim's Cock trial.

More woulda-could-shoulda there. I have my dreams of what they and he could've achieved if he'd lived. Some of them are barely even cloud cuckoo land, some of them really are as entrenched in reality as possible. None of them will come true, so I should just put them away. He is dead, after all.

In death, we can take Jim as we need him. I needed a hero to cling onto who would not disappoint me. Even in death, he's managed to do so from time to time, but he's still the guy who turned down car commercials. It's likely that had he lived, he would've sold out as thoroughly as any of the others, but he didn't live to do so, and remains more or less unsullied. He didn't ever make peace with authority and even now remains dangerous, in his way, to society as it currently is. I needed him to be that person, unapologetic for himself. I needed him to be someone I could admire precisely because he never did fit in.

Mind you, seeing Doors CDs being sold in Starbucks took some serious rationalising. It's pretty good in some ways that Himself is dead – I can just blame it all on Father Ray, Robby & John.

Right now, I'm sat in Starbucks on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I'm drinking an iced latte, I'm dressed in a bright yellow sundress and I would honestly describe myself as 'cheerful'. Except for the small detail that Jim Morrison is dead. And you know what? He's been dead for such a long bloody time that it's simply how it is. Of course I'm sad, but if you think I'm going to let this drag me down for my entire damn life, you're more delusional than I am. I am, finally, just about resigned to it.

For the rest of my life and beyond it, I will always believe that a world without Jim in it is worse than one with him in it. I will always believe that he would've become a mighty figure... but I'm not going to shed any tears over it today. He's already had enough of them from me. He would've been a magnificent sight to behold and his work would've been more than just the occasional hint of brilliance, but it didn't happen and until I get my time machine, that's how it's staying.

Today in the sunshine, the shadows are out of sight and it turns out we could survive without him. Jaysus, that should break my heart – but it doesn't. Into the sunshine, indeed.

Forty Years.....

Sunday, 3 July 2011 15:13
apolla: (Smiler)

Forty years.

I can't really compute it, if I'm honest. I feel like I should be utterly bereft, but I'm not. I mean, Jim Morrison is dead. As of today, he's been dead forty years. That's a middle-aged person ago. I've been a fan long enough that I remember the thirtieth anniversary, and how I felt then. Utterly shite, basically. I probably cried. Hell, I'm almost certain I cried. There were riots in Paris on his twentieth anniversary. The consistently dreadful behaviour of 'fans' nearly got him kicked out of Pere-Lachaise, but I can't imagine today will be all that much of a deal. The rabble-rousers got old and are probably spending their Sundays in garden centres or outlet malls.

As is so often the case, this will be as much about me as Jim. It's the only way I can connect to him, after all. Forty years... I outlived him a couple of years ago, you know. It tore me apart for a few days (or possibly months, or maybe it still does) but I just about got over it. Maybe he's the world's oldest twenty-seven year old and I never quite have to outlive him.

It's not easy being a Doors fan. I think I know at least a little how ELO fans feel when they're met with smirks of derision when they announce that they are, in fact, ELO fans. ELO fans don't even have the advantage of having someone who looks like Jim Morrison out front. Anyway, my point is that a lot of people who have some knowledge of popular culture have a particular view on 'who' Doors fans are. Doors fans are, the generalisation goes, whiny-angsty students who sit in darkened rooms burning incense, or they are pitiful people who wear Jim-like clothes and spout pseudo-Rimbaudian crap. Well, I've done a lot of angsting in darkened rooms but incense gives me a headache and I've never got down with Rimbaud particularly. The worst thing that can be said about Doors fans, or Doorzoids as more than one critic put it, is that they have no sense of perspective: Jim is greatest at everything and nobody else ever did anything nearly as good as he did. Jim is beyond criticism and everyone should live a life like Jim. They are blindly-worshipping followers like those morons in Life of Brian who just repeat everything back to him. Have you heard that girl on the live recording who agrees with everything Jim says, even when he turns on a sixpence and says the opposite of what he'd just said?

In fact, I was at Glastonbury last weekend in the mud-n-sun, and one of the people I was there with told me he spent a portion of his youth trying to be like Jim. I'm paraphrasing, but he said with the weariness of someone who has come out the other side of a troubling obsession: “I acted like a complete twat.”

I myself have spent the last ten or so years battling between using Jim as a Life Lesson and just plain following him down the troubling road to The Mythical Edge (nothing to do with U2). I have never wanted to be Jim, but I have come close to swan-diving off The Mythical Edge to find him. It is no credit to me but I have sat alone, emptying a bottle and calling to the sky for him. He has never come, of course.

He's just that kind of guy, really. A lot of people have probably died trying to be like Jim, just as a lot of people have died trying to be like Keith Richards. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, or maybe it just is. The shame of it is that Jim was always more than just a Hellraising Rock Star. He was incredibly well-read, thoughtful and determined to do more than just basic three-minute love songs. In fact, there's not a single Doors song you could call a straightforward love song. Seriously, find me one.

The Doors have always been both under- and over-rated. While their advocates will never cease listing their strengths and moments of brilliance, they remain on the outskirts of the Rock Pantheon, outsiders even now. Their work is too arty/pretentious, the great songs too long to get much radio play. They exist in a pre-video world so there's not much to show on TV. They're not for the Normal People. I once blogged, a long time ago, how I would not be a Doors fan if I had been beautiful, or popular. The Doors belong to us weirdos and freaks, so they never quite fit into the stereotypical view of the 1960s. Indeed, while everyone in 1967 was all Peace And Love, the Doors were doing The End. See also Love, who like their Elektra stablemates, took psychedelic music and skewed it. This is the dark side of the sun, man, and it doesn't quite fit. Jim makes it into those endless lists of rock stars and stuff because he is seen as a stereotypical rock star. And don't you believe for a second that he didn't encourage it... but it wasn't all he was.

He was more than just the smirking, shirt-allergic Adonis of legend. Seriously man, he was. I'm not a Doors fan because Jim was 'cute' and I've never had a crush on him. All-consuming obsession sure, but not a crush. He was, is, and ever will be, more than that. He is my hero, and I won't ever apologise for it. He was a writer of generally good and occasionally great music. He was more than the punchline to a fucking joke.

I have never wanted to follow him blindly, although maybe sometimes I have. I've seen and oftentimes agreed with criticisms of him, and his work. He did skirt the line between arty and pretentious and sometimes he fell right over it to become mired in self-important wankery. I pity the fools who turned up late to some shows and missed the support act (a small time group called Led Zeppelin) and got instead an incoherent drunken ramble from headliner Jim. You don't have to tell me what a dick he could be: I've read pretty much everything there is to read, and I know. He's still my hero, both because and in spite of his great weaknesses. He's still the guy who gave us 'The End' and 'The Unknown Soldier' and 'Five to One' and 'The Soft Parade'. Sure, he's also the 'genius' behind 'Horse Latitudes', which I don't think was intended as a comedy, but “mute nostril agony” is hilarious. The Doors gave us some practically perfect slices of late-60s rock music: 'Love Me Two Times', 'Love Her Madly', 'Break on Through' and freak anthem 'People Are Strange'. They gave us some extraordinary bits of art-rock too: the seventeen minute, epic 'Celebration of The Lizard', aurally bizarre 'L'America' and the achingly beautiful 'The Crystal Ship'.

Have I mentioned Jim's fantastic, brutal, beautiful voice? Well I should. He could croon like Sinatra but he could also yell and scream with the best of 'em. His voice is like his legend: alternately seductive and violent, alluring and grotesque. Who else could scream at you to WAKE UP and then take you on a journey like that in a Doors concert? For me, Jim's power is not in his face, but in his voice.

A few weeks back, I listened to LA Woman all the way through. Then I did so twice more. The Doors is a great record and the five that follow all have tremendous moments, but LA Woman is an unquestionably remarkable record. Jim's voice is already ravaged, but it's perfect for some dark, terrible blues. 'Been Down So Long' has been my own personal theme tune for years. There's not a duff song anywhere on the record, although 'Riders on the Storm' has always veered dangerously towards cocktail lounge music for my liking – I think it's Ray's organ sound – but it's still a good song. If they'd been able to follow that up, the Doors would likely have regained the ground lost by the Jim's Cock trial.

More woulda-could-shoulda there. I have my dreams of what they and he could've achieved if he'd lived. Some of them are barely even cloud cuckoo land, some of them really are as entrenched in reality as possible. None of them will come true, so I should just put them away. He is dead, after all.

In death, we can take Jim as we need him. I needed a hero to cling onto who would not disappoint me. Even in death, he's managed to do so from time to time, but he's still the guy who turned down car commercials. It's likely that had he lived, he would've sold out as thoroughly as any of the others, but he didn't live to do so, and remains more or less unsullied. He didn't ever make peace with authority and even now remains dangerous, in his way, to society as it currently is. I needed him to be that person, unapologetic for himself. I needed him to be someone I could admire precisely because he never did fit in.

Mind you, seeing Doors CDs being sold in Starbucks took some serious rationalising. It's pretty good in some ways that Himself is dead – I can just blame it all on Father Ray, Robby & John.

Right now, I'm sat in Starbucks on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I'm drinking an iced latte, I'm dressed in a bright yellow sundress and I would honestly describe myself as 'cheerful'. Except for the small detail that Jim Morrison is dead. And you know what? He's been dead for such a long bloody time that it's simply how it is. Of course I'm sad, but if you think I'm going to let this drag me down for my entire damn life, you're more delusional than I am. I am, finally, just about resigned to it.

For the rest of my life and beyond it, I will always believe that a world without Jim in it is worse than one with him in it. I will always believe that he would've become a mighty figure... but I'm not going to shed any tears over it today. He's already had enough of them from me. He would've been a magnificent sight to behold and his work would've been more than just the occasional hint of brilliance, but it didn't happen and until I get my time machine, that's how it's staying.

Today in the sunshine, the shadows are out of sight and it turns out we could survive without him. Jaysus, that should break my heart – but it doesn't. Into the sunshine, indeed.

apolla: (Black Rose)
It is twenty past eleven on the night of 4th January 2011. I am sitting in my cold living room, curled up in a duvet and I am watching a DVD called Thin Lizzy – Greatest Hits. At the O2 Arena (the Point last time I was there) in Dublin, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are on stage. At Vicar Street in Dublin, my favourite live music venue ever, the 25th Vibe for Philo is in full-swing. According to the line-up on the website, the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils & Glen Hansard are playing as I type.

Although his name isn't splashed all over the place, Philip Lynott has not been forgotten today.

I've made various ramblings at this time of year for a long time. I recall the 19th being a bit of an epic, and I know exactly where I was for the 20th anniversary: at the front of Vicar Street, at the Vibe. I was either feeling sick, about to be sick or had just been sick (oddly enough, the exact time of emptying my stomach over the barrier has been forgotten) thanks to an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar which forever lost my custom that night.

As is usual for the 4
th January, I've spent the day pissed off. First it was trying to get up for my first workday since Christmas. Then it was morons on the tube, idiots in the street and the VAT increase on frappucinos. Then it was the imminent threat of root canal this evening. Then it was only having part of the root canal done and having to wait until next week for the long-winded bit. Then it was the cold. Then it was CSI: NY. All day, I've been cheesed off like a mouse who has just been told by a doctor to lay off the cheese due to a serious cheese allergy.

The fact is, the 4th January cannot be a happy day for me, and probably many people who ever gave a flying one about Lynott would agree. It is the day we lost him forever. It is the day that his work took on new, deeper, more tragic meanings.

It is the day that hole in the middle of the stage opened up.

Tonight, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are up at the Point. Brian Downey and Scott Gorham are there, the two people I would class as 'Thin Lizzy' after Philip. Darren Wharton is there. Some other musicians are there, plugging the holes. I don't doubt that musically they'll be fine. There are no bad musicians in the line-up, but there is a big fucking hole in the middle of the stage, and ignoring it is like a broken pencil: pointless.

I've seen Thin Lizzy in recent years, before John Sykes left and Downey rejoined. The music wasn't bad, and I consider those evenings well spent, but there is no escaping the massive hole in the middle of the stage

Philip is gone. I've seen and touched the chunk of damp Irish sod covering the hole they put him in.

Yet, here I sit, and looking at the television, it's almost as if I could reach out and touch the shiny red jacket he's wearing in the With Love video, and jaysus, doesn't the smile on him warm my cold, broken heart?

So much has already been said that there seems little more to say... except that seeing the lustrously-barnetted Scott Gorham on lead guitar reminds me of the one sorrow that can never be soothed.

I met Scott Gorham in Starbucks on 26th Feb 2009, Hicks' anniversary. I got to look him in the eye and say thank you. Maybe I'll meet him again in this lifetime, but the important bit is done. I got to say 'you're one of my favourite musicians. Thank you.'

It seems incredibly important to say it. To look into someone's eyes and thank them. It seems the least I can do (actually, the least I can do is buy their music...) and at the same time, it's everything.

Thin Lizzy's music pulled me out of more holes than it put me in. All the sadness, grief, tears and other woe I've felt because Philip is dead are nothing compared to the absolute, pure jubilation his music has given me.

As I've said many times, it was Philip that gave me back Ireland, and I didn't even fully realise how much I needed it. He is my hero, an inspiration, a rock (natch) upon which to lean when I need, and the better part of happiness in my world. I can tell you truthfully that I believe him to be one of the great Irish writers of the late 20th century. I can tell you truthfully that I believe Thin Lizzy to be continually under-rated (partly through their own doing), and that as long as Thin Lizzy's music exists, U2 aren't even the best band from Dublin, never mind in the whole world

Nothing compares to all that, and I'll shed a million more tears before I'll live in a world without him.

I hope the two separate Philo nights are having a grand aul' time. Me, I was feeling like shit, and then I started watching Philip and funnily enough, I started to feel better, a little. And now I've been watching for awhile, I feel a good deal better. The end of the Sarah video still cracks me up, and I will always smile back at that cocky, smug grin plastered on his face throughout Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. I still want sparkly purple trousers like Robbo in the Wild One video. Sure, Still In Love With You makes me want to cry, but that's because it's a sad, sad song. I'm happier now than I was before the DVD started, and that's because of Philo's music.

I will never stop wishing I could look him in the eye and say thank you. I will always wish I could make some kind of difference to how it played out. I will always wish to have been there to see him. I will always believe that a world with Philip Lynott in it is better than one without it, but as long as the music plays, it'll be OK, and OK is all we get.



 









apolla: (Black Rose)
It is twenty past eleven on the night of 4th January 2011. I am sitting in my cold living room, curled up in a duvet and I am watching a DVD called Thin Lizzy – Greatest Hits. At the O2 Arena (the Point last time I was there) in Dublin, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are on stage. At Vicar Street in Dublin, my favourite live music venue ever, the 25th Vibe for Philo is in full-swing. According to the line-up on the website, the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils & Glen Hansard are playing as I type.

Although his name isn't splashed all over the place, Philip Lynott has not been forgotten today.

I've made various ramblings at this time of year for a long time. I recall the 19th being a bit of an epic, and I know exactly where I was for the 20th anniversary: at the front of Vicar Street, at the Vibe. I was either feeling sick, about to be sick or had just been sick (oddly enough, the exact time of emptying my stomach over the barrier has been forgotten) thanks to an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar which forever lost my custom that night.

As is usual for the 4
th January, I've spent the day pissed off. First it was trying to get up for my first workday since Christmas. Then it was morons on the tube, idiots in the street and the VAT increase on frappucinos. Then it was the imminent threat of root canal this evening. Then it was only having part of the root canal done and having to wait until next week for the long-winded bit. Then it was the cold. Then it was CSI: NY. All day, I've been cheesed off like a mouse who has just been told by a doctor to lay off the cheese due to a serious cheese allergy.

The fact is, the 4th January cannot be a happy day for me, and probably many people who ever gave a flying one about Lynott would agree. It is the day we lost him forever. It is the day that his work took on new, deeper, more tragic meanings.

It is the day that hole in the middle of the stage opened up.

Tonight, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are up at the Point. Brian Downey and Scott Gorham are there, the two people I would class as 'Thin Lizzy' after Philip. Darren Wharton is there. Some other musicians are there, plugging the holes. I don't doubt that musically they'll be fine. There are no bad musicians in the line-up, but there is a big fucking hole in the middle of the stage, and ignoring it is like a broken pencil: pointless.

I've seen Thin Lizzy in recent years, before John Sykes left and Downey rejoined. The music wasn't bad, and I consider those evenings well spent, but there is no escaping the massive hole in the middle of the stage

Philip is gone. I've seen and touched the chunk of damp Irish sod covering the hole they put him in.

Yet, here I sit, and looking at the television, it's almost as if I could reach out and touch the shiny red jacket he's wearing in the With Love video, and jaysus, doesn't the smile on him warm my cold, broken heart?

So much has already been said that there seems little more to say... except that seeing the lustrously-barnetted Scott Gorham on lead guitar reminds me of the one sorrow that can never be soothed.

I met Scott Gorham in Starbucks on 26th Feb 2009, Hicks' anniversary. I got to look him in the eye and say thank you. Maybe I'll meet him again in this lifetime, but the important bit is done. I got to say 'you're one of my favourite musicians. Thank you.'

It seems incredibly important to say it. To look into someone's eyes and thank them. It seems the least I can do (actually, the least I can do is buy their music...) and at the same time, it's everything.

Thin Lizzy's music pulled me out of more holes than it put me in. All the sadness, grief, tears and other woe I've felt because Philip is dead are nothing compared to the absolute, pure jubilation his music has given me.

As I've said many times, it was Philip that gave me back Ireland, and I didn't even fully realise how much I needed it. He is my hero, an inspiration, a rock (natch) upon which to lean when I need, and the better part of happiness in my world. I can tell you truthfully that I believe him to be one of the great Irish writers of the late 20th century. I can tell you truthfully that I believe Thin Lizzy to be continually under-rated (partly through their own doing), and that as long as Thin Lizzy's music exists, U2 aren't even the best band from Dublin, never mind in the whole world

Nothing compares to all that, and I'll shed a million more tears before I'll live in a world without him.

I hope the two separate Philo nights are having a grand aul' time. Me, I was feeling like shit, and then I started watching Philip and funnily enough, I started to feel better, a little. And now I've been watching for awhile, I feel a good deal better. The end of the Sarah video still cracks me up, and I will always smile back at that cocky, smug grin plastered on his face throughout Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. I still want sparkly purple trousers like Robbo in the Wild One video. Sure, Still In Love With You makes me want to cry, but that's because it's a sad, sad song. I'm happier now than I was before the DVD started, and that's because of Philo's music.

I will never stop wishing I could look him in the eye and say thank you. I will always wish I could make some kind of difference to how it played out. I will always wish to have been there to see him. I will always believe that a world with Philip Lynott in it is better than one without it, but as long as the music plays, it'll be OK, and OK is all we get.



 









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I have a habit. An irritating habit. I like to share YouTube videos on Facebook on even the smallest pretext. This leads to me basically spamming my own FB profile with videos each time I stop there. So far, I've managed to refrain from sharing The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson every time I burst out laughing.

Lately, I've been profile-spamming with Rory Gallagher videos every so often. Or rather, every time I go to YouTube in search of a Rory video. I'm in the mid-period stage of New Obsession, and it's just as well that YouTube wasn't around when I went through the same with The Beatles, or with Led Zeppelin or with Thin Lizzy or with The Doors, or with Dean Martin.

Amongst the videos I posted the other day was this:


I added the note"I wasn't going to clutter FB with any more tonight but the end of this is astonishing in its grand fabulousness." If you want to accuse me of being over the top, hyperbolic or just plain nuts, that's cool. I happen to think it's a very cool live exploration of the song that reaches a thoroughly satisfactory climax (oh, matron, etc etc) but part of my excitement was bound up in the newness: it was the first time I'd heard it in such an arrangement.

Now one of my friends on Facebook, the Fabulous Marie, clicked 'Like' on a few of the videos and I was glad that someone - anyone - had seen then. I get quite preachy when I fall down the rabbit hole for a musician, I know this. "OMG YOU MUST LISTEN! NO REALLY!". I know, and I'm at least less awful than I used to be (just ask anyone who was around when I fell down the Doors rabbit hole).

I posted a bunch of videos, and also, while I'm at it, the profound FB status message "RANDOM SCOTT GORHAM ON TV!" so it's fair to say I was in a particular frame of mind: the oh my god, rock music is all I care about and all I can think about frame of mind. Haven't been there for a while, and it was fun. So imagine the mixture of emotions the next day when I read an email alert that someone had replied to my posting of the above video.

"It's not as if he's the best or anything - do you just fancy him?"

On the face of it... it's just a slightly stupid, shallow remark. There's more to this than meets the eye, to borrow a phrase from the movie Help! (more on that later).

Let us examine this, because I'm still angry two days later. Leaving aside the quality judgement, because that's not the issue and is always going to be contentious in rock geek circles, the question.... do you just fancy him?

Exsqueeze me, baking powder? (another quote from another rock music movie). What did you just say? It was a boy who said it, for the record, called Adam. I have had several online discussions with him about music, the blues, Clapton and Gallagher. I know he falls on the side of Clapton. I do not. I only know him via my brother, so I can't claim to know him at all well. I can't speak to his motives or meanings behind the remark. I can only speak to how it feels to read such a remark. And I'm fucking well going to speak to it.

How dare you.

I was immediately put in mind of a fascinating feminist post over at Shakesville: The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck. If you, men and women, read nothing else about this post, click the link and read. I was put in mind because the question that came to me as I read the comment from Adam was: Swallow shit, or ruin the afternoon? As the article suggests, moments that wear/cut away at a woman's sense of self, worth, importance have already ruined the proverbial afternoon for them. So fuck it kids, I'm going to ruin the afternoon.

I am sick and tired - oh so weary - of being treated in a particular way for being a rock fan with a cunt. The number of times I've had men (and some women) patronise me, scorn me, outright mock or attack me for it... I took a Pop Music Culture class nearly a decade ago in which I had to stand up for myself - and all the other female rock fans - for wanting to love the music.

So let me ask a question. If a man posted four or five videos of a musician they liked a great deal, would 'do you fancy him' be a question that even occurred to anyone? Rock music is still so skewed towards men. That's fine, as long as they're good at it. I mean come on! My absolute favourite musicians are all men! This may be due to a conspicuous lack of choice in the female rock department.

Who is there? In mainstream rock music, I mean. There are the Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl types who are to be respected and commended, but you can't call it mainstream... Who is there who ROCKS THE FUCK OUT while in possession of a vagina?

You're having trouble, aren't you? Don't worry, you're not the only ones: Rolling Stone's Immortals list has only four women in the top fifty, and Aretha (number nine) is a soul singer, Madonna's (36) a clotheshorse bandwagoner. Only the other two, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith, can even reasonably be considered to share the same space as the guys. I don't say this to deride the Queen or Madge, just to point out that they're not rockers. Janis and Patti are at places 46 and 47 respectively. The bottom fifty has six females/girl groups.

It's not because girls don't like rock music. It's not because they can't play it. It's because they're told they can't, or just plain told not to. I remember why I asked to learn the guitar when I was seven years old. I was watching Top of the Pops (a very long time ago, when I could still find something on there to like). I made the connection between rock music, guitars and cool pretty easily. I was a kid who had her own record player at the age of six and listened to Buddy Holly records. It was 1989. I wanted to play the guitar. The electric guitar like all those cool-as-fuck musicians. Can you imagine the disappointment I had to hide when my mummy took me to the music school and introduced me to my classical guitar teacher? I wanted to ROCK OUT but it had been assumed (I assume in turn) that it would be classical. I turned out to love my lessons and stuck with them from the age of ten to nineteen, and I only stopped them to go to university. (Sidenote: Mr Burden, you're a fucking legend.) But the assumption hurt.

For the record, I'm sitting within two feet of two guitars: a Fender California series electro-acoustic slice of gorgeousness and a gold copy-Strat. There's a bass (Fender jazz copy.) (rarely played) sitting in my spare room.

So anyway, I've been dealing with this shit for twenty years and it still stings. I wouldn't be writing this if Adam's remark didn't hurt a little. How can I explain without seeming like An Irrational Female or A Bitch? I can practically hear the TVTropes names forming. How can I adequately explain the shredding of my heart every time some ignorant tossmonkey suggests that the only reason I could ever love music is because I fancy the musician? My God, it still hurts, every single time, and partly on behalf of the musicians in question. What an insult it is to them to suggest that I could only love them for their face and body? (There is an argument to be made that Robert Plant asked for it).

I suppose it couldn't possibly be because of the music, could it? Or them as humans for being charismatic or intelligent, or funny? It couldn't be because of a MONSTER RIFF or a STONKING BASSLINE or a PROFOUND LYRIC? God, the mere idea of loving the Beatles for the music! Why didn't I think of that before? Whyever would I like Led Zeppelin for Jimmy's fourteen track guitar solos or for Bonzo's extended Moby Dick drum solo? (for the record: I actually love the version of Moby Dick that's in The Song Remains The Same).

I couldn't possibly like Rory Gallagher for his mad guitar skills, could I? Or his often excellent songwriting? There are a couple of his songs that are such excellent examples of their type that I assumed they were covers. 'Goin' To My Hometown' is a particularly excellent example. It couldn't possibly be because he brought an Irish lyricality to the blues and a deep authentic feeling that I have never once believed from Eric Clapton, could it? It couldn't be his dedication to the music, or the simple-but-effective live shows? No, I must fancy him.

A far more stinging and accurate mockery would've been to suggest I only like him for being Irish. It'd be more accurate than 'oooooh, you lurrrrrrve him!' but it'd still be wrong.

Why are women still barred from being considered 'proper' fans of anything? Why are we still having our motives questioned? Are we still tagged as groupies, no matter what we do? Are we all supposed to be crazy fangirls, as if my love of rock music is the same as a tinhat Supernatural fan's love of J2? Even if it is, what would be wrong with that? A guy can own thousands of records and be a fan, a girl could own the same and be tagged as a crazy fangirl.

I appreciate that the screaming girls since the Bobbysoxers have not helped the cause. However, you don't know what it was they loved, and not all fangirls are the same. Twihards right now are not helping, but it's possible - just possible - that they love the books above loving Robert Pattinson. Have you even asked?

Oh hey, Fact Fans! For all the crazy fangirls that clutter the internet and the world, it was a white man who killed John Lennon. To extend this further, a white man killed Jim Morrison, when you think about it.

I sit opposite a rock fan called Phil at work. We routinely drive everyone else mad by bickering, for one thing, and for droning about rock music for another. We also quote A Hard Day's Night and Help! at each other for a good portion of any given day. Swine flu has been particularly good for this: He's a swiiiiiiine. Phil can speak at length about the differences between the stereo and mono mixes of the Beatles records and on Friday spent some time waxing truly lyrical about the new remaster of Abbey Road. He is almost as much of a fan of several other bands. He dislikes my ironic love of Xanadu because that's when he finally gave up on ELO. He's seen Clapton tons of times. I don't believe he's ever been accused of being in love with any of the bands he likes.

Go over to YouTube and read the comments on Rory Gallagher videos:

Do please pardon my language.But Goddamn fuckin amazing ... 5:49 ... with the bass ... and the ... the ... oh god i love it .....  by someone called Brianlovesiobhan on the video above.

ah for feck sake!!!!!!! that was just unreal. Vids of Rory blow me away everytime! thanks a million for sharing! from someone called MonkeyMan198599, video and comment linked in quote.

Now, I can't be sure that these people (there are hundreds of similarly adoring comments on most of RG's videos, but I'm not going to spam you with them now) are men... but I can surmise it. I suppose that they too must fancy Rory? Or am I to understand that only men can be obsessive about music and that women must only be obsessive about musicians?

It's entirely possible for a woman to fall in love with a rock and roll musician. It's just as possible for her not to. It's actually a pretty complex set of emotions for me, so for someone to reduce it to do you just fancy him is infuriating. Even if I did explain, I don't think most people would be interested, which is fair enough, but don't reduce it to the lowest common denominator. I've sat for hours watching old concerts for these people, I've lost days of my life to listening to their records. I'm poor because of them. I've travelled the globe for them, I've stood at their graves. I've danced around the living room alone at 2 o'clock in the morning because of a funky song. I've read books. I've written dissertations and blog posts. I've laughed and I've cried. I've watched great documentaries and shit documentaries. I've defended and attacked them. I've fought their corners. I've sung their songs on stages. I've written songs about them. I've done all this because of the music.

To quote briefly from a long-ago post I made that was nominally about the Phantom of the Opera but was actually about Jim and Me:

It is a handy little extra that Jim Morrison is Adonis. It makes putting pictures of him up on the wall a genuine pleasure. It's always nice to have beautiful things to look at. But you don't get pictures when you're listening to a record. When it's just you and the vinyl, the only thing he has to win you over completely is his voice singing his words. No pout, no smirk or smoulder or trousers. There's none of the slumping onto microphones or falling into a heap. Only a voice.

Would I love Jim Morrison if he were ugly? I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a choice in the matter.

Note the phrase 'would I love' rather than 'would I be in love with'. To me, they're not the same thing. In fact, I believe I use the word 'love' as shorthand a lot of the time, because everyone understands love but they don't necessarily understand the rock fan - musician relationship. 'Love' is an easy way of avoiding exactly what I mean.

To quote briefly from a post I made in July 2007:

Without music I'd be dead. Or at least very, terribly hollow and dead inside. I might still live and breathe, but who would I be? I talk music most of the time, I think music even more. The only things that distract me from music are writing, movies and myself. That's it. There's nothing else.

I'm not saying you can't crush on musicians, can't be in love with them... it's just that it's not why a lot of us women love the music first and foremost and above everything else. To suggest that I could only love the music because of the man makes my stomach twist itself inside out because I love the music so much for itself. Yet, it's hard often to explain adequately how or why a piece of music is so important... but it's relatively easy to talk about people. I have talked about how I love Jim Morrison or any of the others - but it's not a crush. It's not romantic and never was. It was a depth of affection for someone who gave me that music. If Jim hadn't written those songs, I wouldn't give a flying rat's arse about him in or out of a shirt. I love the music, so I love them for the music. That doesn't give them a free pass to make shit music and it doesn't mean that I sit here daydreaming about them.

Wouldn't that be a waste of fucking time in my case, given that most of the bastards are dead?

I don't want to fuck or marry these people. I want to see them live in concert. When I hear the music I love, I feel alive. I feel like there's meaning to the world. I feel like there's wonder and brilliance in the world. I feel like I could fly. My heart soars or dips depending on the song. I get songs stuck in my head. Some songs make my blood run hot, some turn my blood cold. Some songs make me want to die. Others make me want to live. That makes you and me and all the other rock fans pretty much the same, whether we have a cock or a cunt, something else or none of the above. Amazing, right?

I'm going to leave you with a few choice quotes that, depending on your point of view, should leave you squirming and uncomfortable or punching the air triumphantly, mostly from women in music, because the only real difference between the person on stage and the person in the audience is what side of the security guard they can see.

People don't want to see women doing things they don't think women should do. Joan Jett

Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up that's all. Joan Jett.

Aggressive, tough and defiant may describe me, but that leaves the impression I'm mean and I'm not. Joan Jett, again.

I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules.  Joan Jett, once more. Has she had to spend her entire career explaining and defending her choice? (answer: Yes).

As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag. Patti Smith.

No, my work does not reflect my sexual preferences, it reflects the fact that I feel total freedom as an artist.  Patti Smith.

On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.  Janis Joplin

Some nights I look out and want to fuck the whole front row. Robert Plant

The so-called feminist writers were disgusted with me. I did my thing, and so I guess by feminist standards I'm a feminist. That suits me fine.  Chrissie Hynde

I dig music. The fictional musician Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, a film which didn't help the girl-fan (not fangirl) cause but was otherwise OK.

and a final word from one of our sponsors:

You know, people can't fall in love with me just because I'm good at what I do. Robert Plant, 1977 (I'd be interested in the context of this quote if anyone has it).
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I have a habit. An irritating habit. I like to share YouTube videos on Facebook on even the smallest pretext. This leads to me basically spamming my own FB profile with videos each time I stop there. So far, I've managed to refrain from sharing The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson every time I burst out laughing.

Lately, I've been profile-spamming with Rory Gallagher videos every so often. Or rather, every time I go to YouTube in search of a Rory video. I'm in the mid-period stage of New Obsession, and it's just as well that YouTube wasn't around when I went through the same with The Beatles, or with Led Zeppelin or with Thin Lizzy or with The Doors, or with Dean Martin.

Amongst the videos I posted the other day was this:


I added the note"I wasn't going to clutter FB with any more tonight but the end of this is astonishing in its grand fabulousness." If you want to accuse me of being over the top, hyperbolic or just plain nuts, that's cool. I happen to think it's a very cool live exploration of the song that reaches a thoroughly satisfactory climax (oh, matron, etc etc) but part of my excitement was bound up in the newness: it was the first time I'd heard it in such an arrangement.

Now one of my friends on Facebook, the Fabulous Marie, clicked 'Like' on a few of the videos and I was glad that someone - anyone - had seen then. I get quite preachy when I fall down the rabbit hole for a musician, I know this. "OMG YOU MUST LISTEN! NO REALLY!". I know, and I'm at least less awful than I used to be (just ask anyone who was around when I fell down the Doors rabbit hole).

I posted a bunch of videos, and also, while I'm at it, the profound FB status message "RANDOM SCOTT GORHAM ON TV!" so it's fair to say I was in a particular frame of mind: the oh my god, rock music is all I care about and all I can think about frame of mind. Haven't been there for a while, and it was fun. So imagine the mixture of emotions the next day when I read an email alert that someone had replied to my posting of the above video.

"It's not as if he's the best or anything - do you just fancy him?"

On the face of it... it's just a slightly stupid, shallow remark. There's more to this than meets the eye, to borrow a phrase from the movie Help! (more on that later).

Let us examine this, because I'm still angry two days later. Leaving aside the quality judgement, because that's not the issue and is always going to be contentious in rock geek circles, the question.... do you just fancy him?

Exsqueeze me, baking powder? (another quote from another rock music movie). What did you just say? It was a boy who said it, for the record, called Adam. I have had several online discussions with him about music, the blues, Clapton and Gallagher. I know he falls on the side of Clapton. I do not. I only know him via my brother, so I can't claim to know him at all well. I can't speak to his motives or meanings behind the remark. I can only speak to how it feels to read such a remark. And I'm fucking well going to speak to it.

How dare you.

I was immediately put in mind of a fascinating feminist post over at Shakesville: The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck. If you, men and women, read nothing else about this post, click the link and read. I was put in mind because the question that came to me as I read the comment from Adam was: Swallow shit, or ruin the afternoon? As the article suggests, moments that wear/cut away at a woman's sense of self, worth, importance have already ruined the proverbial afternoon for them. So fuck it kids, I'm going to ruin the afternoon.

I am sick and tired - oh so weary - of being treated in a particular way for being a rock fan with a cunt. The number of times I've had men (and some women) patronise me, scorn me, outright mock or attack me for it... I took a Pop Music Culture class nearly a decade ago in which I had to stand up for myself - and all the other female rock fans - for wanting to love the music.

So let me ask a question. If a man posted four or five videos of a musician they liked a great deal, would 'do you fancy him' be a question that even occurred to anyone? Rock music is still so skewed towards men. That's fine, as long as they're good at it. I mean come on! My absolute favourite musicians are all men! This may be due to a conspicuous lack of choice in the female rock department.

Who is there? In mainstream rock music, I mean. There are the Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl types who are to be respected and commended, but you can't call it mainstream... Who is there who ROCKS THE FUCK OUT while in possession of a vagina?

You're having trouble, aren't you? Don't worry, you're not the only ones: Rolling Stone's Immortals list has only four women in the top fifty, and Aretha (number nine) is a soul singer, Madonna's (36) a clotheshorse bandwagoner. Only the other two, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith, can even reasonably be considered to share the same space as the guys. I don't say this to deride the Queen or Madge, just to point out that they're not rockers. Janis and Patti are at places 46 and 47 respectively. The bottom fifty has six females/girl groups.

It's not because girls don't like rock music. It's not because they can't play it. It's because they're told they can't, or just plain told not to. I remember why I asked to learn the guitar when I was seven years old. I was watching Top of the Pops (a very long time ago, when I could still find something on there to like). I made the connection between rock music, guitars and cool pretty easily. I was a kid who had her own record player at the age of six and listened to Buddy Holly records. It was 1989. I wanted to play the guitar. The electric guitar like all those cool-as-fuck musicians. Can you imagine the disappointment I had to hide when my mummy took me to the music school and introduced me to my classical guitar teacher? I wanted to ROCK OUT but it had been assumed (I assume in turn) that it would be classical. I turned out to love my lessons and stuck with them from the age of ten to nineteen, and I only stopped them to go to university. (Sidenote: Mr Burden, you're a fucking legend.) But the assumption hurt.

For the record, I'm sitting within two feet of two guitars: a Fender California series electro-acoustic slice of gorgeousness and a gold copy-Strat. There's a bass (Fender jazz copy.) (rarely played) sitting in my spare room.

So anyway, I've been dealing with this shit for twenty years and it still stings. I wouldn't be writing this if Adam's remark didn't hurt a little. How can I explain without seeming like An Irrational Female or A Bitch? I can practically hear the TVTropes names forming. How can I adequately explain the shredding of my heart every time some ignorant tossmonkey suggests that the only reason I could ever love music is because I fancy the musician? My God, it still hurts, every single time, and partly on behalf of the musicians in question. What an insult it is to them to suggest that I could only love them for their face and body? (There is an argument to be made that Robert Plant asked for it).

I suppose it couldn't possibly be because of the music, could it? Or them as humans for being charismatic or intelligent, or funny? It couldn't be because of a MONSTER RIFF or a STONKING BASSLINE or a PROFOUND LYRIC? God, the mere idea of loving the Beatles for the music! Why didn't I think of that before? Whyever would I like Led Zeppelin for Jimmy's fourteen track guitar solos or for Bonzo's extended Moby Dick drum solo? (for the record: I actually love the version of Moby Dick that's in The Song Remains The Same).

I couldn't possibly like Rory Gallagher for his mad guitar skills, could I? Or his often excellent songwriting? There are a couple of his songs that are such excellent examples of their type that I assumed they were covers. 'Goin' To My Hometown' is a particularly excellent example. It couldn't possibly be because he brought an Irish lyricality to the blues and a deep authentic feeling that I have never once believed from Eric Clapton, could it? It couldn't be his dedication to the music, or the simple-but-effective live shows? No, I must fancy him.

A far more stinging and accurate mockery would've been to suggest I only like him for being Irish. It'd be more accurate than 'oooooh, you lurrrrrrve him!' but it'd still be wrong.

Why are women still barred from being considered 'proper' fans of anything? Why are we still having our motives questioned? Are we still tagged as groupies, no matter what we do? Are we all supposed to be crazy fangirls, as if my love of rock music is the same as a tinhat Supernatural fan's love of J2? Even if it is, what would be wrong with that? A guy can own thousands of records and be a fan, a girl could own the same and be tagged as a crazy fangirl.

I appreciate that the screaming girls since the Bobbysoxers have not helped the cause. However, you don't know what it was they loved, and not all fangirls are the same. Twihards right now are not helping, but it's possible - just possible - that they love the books above loving Robert Pattinson. Have you even asked?

Oh hey, Fact Fans! For all the crazy fangirls that clutter the internet and the world, it was a white man who killed John Lennon. To extend this further, a white man killed Jim Morrison, when you think about it.

I sit opposite a rock fan called Phil at work. We routinely drive everyone else mad by bickering, for one thing, and for droning about rock music for another. We also quote A Hard Day's Night and Help! at each other for a good portion of any given day. Swine flu has been particularly good for this: He's a swiiiiiiine. Phil can speak at length about the differences between the stereo and mono mixes of the Beatles records and on Friday spent some time waxing truly lyrical about the new remaster of Abbey Road. He is almost as much of a fan of several other bands. He dislikes my ironic love of Xanadu because that's when he finally gave up on ELO. He's seen Clapton tons of times. I don't believe he's ever been accused of being in love with any of the bands he likes.

Go over to YouTube and read the comments on Rory Gallagher videos:

Do please pardon my language.But Goddamn fuckin amazing ... 5:49 ... with the bass ... and the ... the ... oh god i love it .....  by someone called Brianlovesiobhan on the video above.

ah for feck sake!!!!!!! that was just unreal. Vids of Rory blow me away everytime! thanks a million for sharing! from someone called MonkeyMan198599, video and comment linked in quote.

Now, I can't be sure that these people (there are hundreds of similarly adoring comments on most of RG's videos, but I'm not going to spam you with them now) are men... but I can surmise it. I suppose that they too must fancy Rory? Or am I to understand that only men can be obsessive about music and that women must only be obsessive about musicians?

It's entirely possible for a woman to fall in love with a rock and roll musician. It's just as possible for her not to. It's actually a pretty complex set of emotions for me, so for someone to reduce it to do you just fancy him is infuriating. Even if I did explain, I don't think most people would be interested, which is fair enough, but don't reduce it to the lowest common denominator. I've sat for hours watching old concerts for these people, I've lost days of my life to listening to their records. I'm poor because of them. I've travelled the globe for them, I've stood at their graves. I've danced around the living room alone at 2 o'clock in the morning because of a funky song. I've read books. I've written dissertations and blog posts. I've laughed and I've cried. I've watched great documentaries and shit documentaries. I've defended and attacked them. I've fought their corners. I've sung their songs on stages. I've written songs about them. I've done all this because of the music.

To quote briefly from a long-ago post I made that was nominally about the Phantom of the Opera but was actually about Jim and Me:

It is a handy little extra that Jim Morrison is Adonis. It makes putting pictures of him up on the wall a genuine pleasure. It's always nice to have beautiful things to look at. But you don't get pictures when you're listening to a record. When it's just you and the vinyl, the only thing he has to win you over completely is his voice singing his words. No pout, no smirk or smoulder or trousers. There's none of the slumping onto microphones or falling into a heap. Only a voice.

Would I love Jim Morrison if he were ugly? I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a choice in the matter.

Note the phrase 'would I love' rather than 'would I be in love with'. To me, they're not the same thing. In fact, I believe I use the word 'love' as shorthand a lot of the time, because everyone understands love but they don't necessarily understand the rock fan - musician relationship. 'Love' is an easy way of avoiding exactly what I mean.

To quote briefly from a post I made in July 2007:

Without music I'd be dead. Or at least very, terribly hollow and dead inside. I might still live and breathe, but who would I be? I talk music most of the time, I think music even more. The only things that distract me from music are writing, movies and myself. That's it. There's nothing else.

I'm not saying you can't crush on musicians, can't be in love with them... it's just that it's not why a lot of us women love the music first and foremost and above everything else. To suggest that I could only love the music because of the man makes my stomach twist itself inside out because I love the music so much for itself. Yet, it's hard often to explain adequately how or why a piece of music is so important... but it's relatively easy to talk about people. I have talked about how I love Jim Morrison or any of the others - but it's not a crush. It's not romantic and never was. It was a depth of affection for someone who gave me that music. If Jim hadn't written those songs, I wouldn't give a flying rat's arse about him in or out of a shirt. I love the music, so I love them for the music. That doesn't give them a free pass to make shit music and it doesn't mean that I sit here daydreaming about them.

Wouldn't that be a waste of fucking time in my case, given that most of the bastards are dead?

I don't want to fuck or marry these people. I want to see them live in concert. When I hear the music I love, I feel alive. I feel like there's meaning to the world. I feel like there's wonder and brilliance in the world. I feel like I could fly. My heart soars or dips depending on the song. I get songs stuck in my head. Some songs make my blood run hot, some turn my blood cold. Some songs make me want to die. Others make me want to live. That makes you and me and all the other rock fans pretty much the same, whether we have a cock or a cunt, something else or none of the above. Amazing, right?

I'm going to leave you with a few choice quotes that, depending on your point of view, should leave you squirming and uncomfortable or punching the air triumphantly, mostly from women in music, because the only real difference between the person on stage and the person in the audience is what side of the security guard they can see.

People don't want to see women doing things they don't think women should do. Joan Jett

Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up that's all. Joan Jett.

Aggressive, tough and defiant may describe me, but that leaves the impression I'm mean and I'm not. Joan Jett, again.

I figured out it was a social thing, what women were allowed to do. At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women's rules.  Joan Jett, once more. Has she had to spend her entire career explaining and defending her choice? (answer: Yes).

As far as I'm concerned, being any gender is a drag. Patti Smith.

No, my work does not reflect my sexual preferences, it reflects the fact that I feel total freedom as an artist.  Patti Smith.

On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.  Janis Joplin

Some nights I look out and want to fuck the whole front row. Robert Plant

The so-called feminist writers were disgusted with me. I did my thing, and so I guess by feminist standards I'm a feminist. That suits me fine.  Chrissie Hynde

I dig music. The fictional musician Russell Hammond in Almost Famous, a film which didn't help the girl-fan (not fangirl) cause but was otherwise OK.

and a final word from one of our sponsors:

You know, people can't fall in love with me just because I'm good at what I do. Robert Plant, 1977 (I'd be interested in the context of this quote if anyone has it).

Shine A Light

Wednesday, 2 April 2008 22:26
apolla: (OTP)
I am just returned from the simulcast of the UK Premiere of the Martin Scorsese film of the Rolling Stones.

As I always seem to do with the Rolling Stones, I find myself somehow underwhelmed. I always am. I don't hate them. I have some of their records. There are some songs that I really loved. Hell, I covered Satisfaction once at an open mic. I introduced it by saying "Let's do this better than they did at the Isle of Wight..." but still. They sucked at the Isle of Wight, by the way. Truly, they did.

The thing is, I was sat there in a cinema full of Stones fans, some going totally crazy and all I could think was: "Yeah, and?"

I suppose it's that I've never in all my life bought into the hype. That WORLD'S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND shit they started when the Beatles broke up.

There are two big questions that nobody sits on the fence for if they love music: Elvis or the Beatles? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Now, we all know that I pick The Beatles each time. I've always found some disdain for the way the Rolling Stones seem to have (or perhaps, those around them, or the fans) sought to boost their reputation by mocking the Beatles. "Yeah, we're the real rockers, we're the tough/hard/dangerous ones!"

I never believed in their myth-making, incessant as it has been. I don't really give a shit what Keith has taken down the years, and although I find it amusing to a point, I have never been able to shake off the feeling that a lot of people died trying to be him. Is that his fault? Well, that's a question for another time...

The big problem for me is Mick Jagger. I mean I find it really hard to like that man. I find it difficult even to watch him as he performs, with all those nonsense moves which, I'm sorry, have only got more ridiculous as he's aged. He's the Paul McCartney of the Stones, the guy who is just begging you to love and adore him and will do anything to achieve it. He's Mr Entertainer, cut from the same cloth as McCartney, as Bruce Forsyth, as Mickey Rooney. In another, earlier world, he would've been a music hall hoofer. In another, later world, he might've been one of those keep fit people on breakfast TV.

You'll observe that I haven't actually said a word about the film yet. It opens well enough with a few choice scenes as regards the set up of the show, and Scorsese's need to see a set-list before the show actually starts.

He is told that the lights will burn Mick if they're on him for more than 15 seconds, or something. He replies:

"We can't set Mick Jagger on fire" which is said with just a hint of a question mark. This is hilarious, of course. Mick shows himself to be a rather snotty sort of character at times.

At this point, I'd like to tell you that I was given a free Shine a Light simulcast t-shirt as I went in, which nearly made me fall over - The Stones never give anything away for free. Hell, a large amount of their website is members only, and that's $99.99.

Anyway, don't get me wrong. I don't hate them, and the music doesn't suck - certainly not like their festival appearance at the Isle of Wight last summer, which was rotten (although most people didn't seem to notice) but it's not... it's not world-shattering. Maybe if I were a real fan I'd be beside myself - I certainly know what it is to get completely wrapped up in a rock film. It's just not that great. At times it's not all that flattering, either. I wonder whether they had any editorial control or whether Scorsese did what he did without their permission (I certainly hope so).

Where was I? I could tell you that it was interesting to see the Clinton party arrive for their meet and greet, and the band's quietly contemptuous but otherwise polite reaction. I could tell you that it was fascinating to see that the majority of the people close to the stage were suspiciously young and New York Trendy. Presumably the middle aged fans were in the back or up on the balcony. I found one young lady with straightened hair and a perfectly flouncy white peasant shirt and fashionably wide black belt to be particularly amusing - while all around her are going mad, she is posing with one hand on her hip and the other rather feebly punching (tapping, actually) the air almost in time to the music. A picture is worth a thousand blagged tickets, no?

Anyway, I've made brief mention of the fact that Mick Jagger is a posing tosser, but that's hardly news. What I found quite interesting was watching Keith. If Mick is McCartney then I suppose that leaves Keith with the don't-care-fuck-off pose John Lennon filled in the Beatles. Make no mistake kiddies, it is an act. He might be better at pretending it's not an act, it might be a different act, but it's an act nonetheless. His schtick is to seem like some haggard old bluesman from a delta somewhere, and to seem uncaring/cool/out of it. It's a fucking act and somehow, at the point he said "It's nice to see you. It's nice to see anybody" I found it distasteful. He does that gag every show, pretty much, the 'oh, I'm lucky to be alive, me' thing. Mick Jagger's an old peacock, but at least he's more honest about it.

Really, I don't hate them. I actually like them a lot. The problem is, I think I like them much, much more than I respect them which is a problem. They've been on the same Greatest Hits tour since about 1981... and I find that at odds with both the idea of 'ROCK AND ROLL' and with musicality. I cannot respect them, and they have yet to give me cause to.

What about the film? Well, I liked it, I really did. There were a few moments that were laugh out loud funny. I liked the choice of archive interviews selected, although I find it somehow distasteful again that when it purports in some ways to be a review of their career the names Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor (to name three) are mentioned nowhere, although they appear very briefly in some of the bits of archive film.

Still, Brian Jones was 90% cunt and 10% tosser, as the story goes.

Thing is, there was nothing much about this film that could only have been done by Martin Scorsese. It's not like back in the days of The Last Waltz when it wasn't really being done. Plenty of shows are filmed now, plenty of shows with roving cameras and cameras behind the band and at the side or below. There was nothing truly out of the ordinary and the ending seemed horribly cliche - a bit like a moment in that Britney video where it's Famous Singer Girl being followed and pawed by hangers on and so on and so forth. This would be fine if it hadn't been made by Scorsese. Wasn't he supposed to be one of the greatest movie directors ever?

The first time I saw The Last Waltz, I stopped the DVD and started it again straight away. I think I watched it a second time all the way through and then a third time skipping through the bits I could live without (Neil Young, obviously).

I would love to love the Rolling Stones. But I don't. I don't respect them enough for that. I might shove Forty Licks and Sticky Fingers on my iPod now if I can find them... but I still have A Bigger Bang waiting to be listened to. It's a band that's been coasting for at least as long as I've been alive, and I find that lazy. Still, Mick's not really much of a singer, Keith's hardly as good a guitarist as legend has it (he really can't play solos in the same manner as say, Clapton or Page.).

What was really cool was seeing that Ronnie Wood, for all his reputation as a jester, really takes the job of playing very seriously. He is also very good at his job.

Charlie Watts is a very cool man also, and the one moment where he looks right in the camera and shrugs with a sigh sums up the whole shebang as far as I'm concerned.

Guest spots by Jack White and Buddy Guy: Cool.
Guest spot by Christina Aguilera: She's a very good singer, but I dislike her music generally. Watching Jagger lech over her was rather distasteful, especially after she left the stage and he basically muttered in that way men sometimes do when they see an exceptionally beautiful woman. Ick. Not because he's old necessarily, but because it's him.

*

The Rolling Stones claim to be the World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band. I would argue that they're not even Britain's greatest rock and roll band. Hell, they're not even the greatest rock and roll band from Britain in the 1960s, the 1970s or the 1980s. Perhaps they're the greatest rock and roll band with members from Dartford. Maybe - I'd have to check Wikipedia for that.

However, it was good to be there for the simulcast amongst Stones fans - it made for a decent atmosphere. Other than that, colour me both underwhelmed and ultimately, sorry, bored.

Shine A Light

Wednesday, 2 April 2008 22:26
apolla: (OTP)
I am just returned from the simulcast of the UK Premiere of the Martin Scorsese film of the Rolling Stones.

As I always seem to do with the Rolling Stones, I find myself somehow underwhelmed. I always am. I don't hate them. I have some of their records. There are some songs that I really loved. Hell, I covered Satisfaction once at an open mic. I introduced it by saying "Let's do this better than they did at the Isle of Wight..." but still. They sucked at the Isle of Wight, by the way. Truly, they did.

The thing is, I was sat there in a cinema full of Stones fans, some going totally crazy and all I could think was: "Yeah, and?"

I suppose it's that I've never in all my life bought into the hype. That WORLD'S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND shit they started when the Beatles broke up.

There are two big questions that nobody sits on the fence for if they love music: Elvis or the Beatles? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Now, we all know that I pick The Beatles each time. I've always found some disdain for the way the Rolling Stones seem to have (or perhaps, those around them, or the fans) sought to boost their reputation by mocking the Beatles. "Yeah, we're the real rockers, we're the tough/hard/dangerous ones!"

I never believed in their myth-making, incessant as it has been. I don't really give a shit what Keith has taken down the years, and although I find it amusing to a point, I have never been able to shake off the feeling that a lot of people died trying to be him. Is that his fault? Well, that's a question for another time...

The big problem for me is Mick Jagger. I mean I find it really hard to like that man. I find it difficult even to watch him as he performs, with all those nonsense moves which, I'm sorry, have only got more ridiculous as he's aged. He's the Paul McCartney of the Stones, the guy who is just begging you to love and adore him and will do anything to achieve it. He's Mr Entertainer, cut from the same cloth as McCartney, as Bruce Forsyth, as Mickey Rooney. In another, earlier world, he would've been a music hall hoofer. In another, later world, he might've been one of those keep fit people on breakfast TV.

You'll observe that I haven't actually said a word about the film yet. It opens well enough with a few choice scenes as regards the set up of the show, and Scorsese's need to see a set-list before the show actually starts.

He is told that the lights will burn Mick if they're on him for more than 15 seconds, or something. He replies:

"We can't set Mick Jagger on fire" which is said with just a hint of a question mark. This is hilarious, of course. Mick shows himself to be a rather snotty sort of character at times.

At this point, I'd like to tell you that I was given a free Shine a Light simulcast t-shirt as I went in, which nearly made me fall over - The Stones never give anything away for free. Hell, a large amount of their website is members only, and that's $99.99.

Anyway, don't get me wrong. I don't hate them, and the music doesn't suck - certainly not like their festival appearance at the Isle of Wight last summer, which was rotten (although most people didn't seem to notice) but it's not... it's not world-shattering. Maybe if I were a real fan I'd be beside myself - I certainly know what it is to get completely wrapped up in a rock film. It's just not that great. At times it's not all that flattering, either. I wonder whether they had any editorial control or whether Scorsese did what he did without their permission (I certainly hope so).

Where was I? I could tell you that it was interesting to see the Clinton party arrive for their meet and greet, and the band's quietly contemptuous but otherwise polite reaction. I could tell you that it was fascinating to see that the majority of the people close to the stage were suspiciously young and New York Trendy. Presumably the middle aged fans were in the back or up on the balcony. I found one young lady with straightened hair and a perfectly flouncy white peasant shirt and fashionably wide black belt to be particularly amusing - while all around her are going mad, she is posing with one hand on her hip and the other rather feebly punching (tapping, actually) the air almost in time to the music. A picture is worth a thousand blagged tickets, no?

Anyway, I've made brief mention of the fact that Mick Jagger is a posing tosser, but that's hardly news. What I found quite interesting was watching Keith. If Mick is McCartney then I suppose that leaves Keith with the don't-care-fuck-off pose John Lennon filled in the Beatles. Make no mistake kiddies, it is an act. He might be better at pretending it's not an act, it might be a different act, but it's an act nonetheless. His schtick is to seem like some haggard old bluesman from a delta somewhere, and to seem uncaring/cool/out of it. It's a fucking act and somehow, at the point he said "It's nice to see you. It's nice to see anybody" I found it distasteful. He does that gag every show, pretty much, the 'oh, I'm lucky to be alive, me' thing. Mick Jagger's an old peacock, but at least he's more honest about it.

Really, I don't hate them. I actually like them a lot. The problem is, I think I like them much, much more than I respect them which is a problem. They've been on the same Greatest Hits tour since about 1981... and I find that at odds with both the idea of 'ROCK AND ROLL' and with musicality. I cannot respect them, and they have yet to give me cause to.

What about the film? Well, I liked it, I really did. There were a few moments that were laugh out loud funny. I liked the choice of archive interviews selected, although I find it somehow distasteful again that when it purports in some ways to be a review of their career the names Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor (to name three) are mentioned nowhere, although they appear very briefly in some of the bits of archive film.

Still, Brian Jones was 90% cunt and 10% tosser, as the story goes.

Thing is, there was nothing much about this film that could only have been done by Martin Scorsese. It's not like back in the days of The Last Waltz when it wasn't really being done. Plenty of shows are filmed now, plenty of shows with roving cameras and cameras behind the band and at the side or below. There was nothing truly out of the ordinary and the ending seemed horribly cliche - a bit like a moment in that Britney video where it's Famous Singer Girl being followed and pawed by hangers on and so on and so forth. This would be fine if it hadn't been made by Scorsese. Wasn't he supposed to be one of the greatest movie directors ever?

The first time I saw The Last Waltz, I stopped the DVD and started it again straight away. I think I watched it a second time all the way through and then a third time skipping through the bits I could live without (Neil Young, obviously).

I would love to love the Rolling Stones. But I don't. I don't respect them enough for that. I might shove Forty Licks and Sticky Fingers on my iPod now if I can find them... but I still have A Bigger Bang waiting to be listened to. It's a band that's been coasting for at least as long as I've been alive, and I find that lazy. Still, Mick's not really much of a singer, Keith's hardly as good a guitarist as legend has it (he really can't play solos in the same manner as say, Clapton or Page.).

What was really cool was seeing that Ronnie Wood, for all his reputation as a jester, really takes the job of playing very seriously. He is also very good at his job.

Charlie Watts is a very cool man also, and the one moment where he looks right in the camera and shrugs with a sigh sums up the whole shebang as far as I'm concerned.

Guest spots by Jack White and Buddy Guy: Cool.
Guest spot by Christina Aguilera: She's a very good singer, but I dislike her music generally. Watching Jagger lech over her was rather distasteful, especially after she left the stage and he basically muttered in that way men sometimes do when they see an exceptionally beautiful woman. Ick. Not because he's old necessarily, but because it's him.

*

The Rolling Stones claim to be the World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band. I would argue that they're not even Britain's greatest rock and roll band. Hell, they're not even the greatest rock and roll band from Britain in the 1960s, the 1970s or the 1980s. Perhaps they're the greatest rock and roll band with members from Dartford. Maybe - I'd have to check Wikipedia for that.

However, it was good to be there for the simulcast amongst Stones fans - it made for a decent atmosphere. Other than that, colour me both underwhelmed and ultimately, sorry, bored.
apolla: (Smiler)
I turned twenty-six the other day. A friend bought me a purple lily which I hope I won't kill as quickly as I tend to kill most plants. Otherwise it was an ordinary day - I went home after work and watched Saved!, stayed up too late watching TV and woke up the next morning more exhausted than I was when I went to sleep.

*

Anyway, I started thinking about something today when the shuffle on my iPod hit some particular tracks. It was very simple: I think I was supposed to have outgrown some stuff by now.

When I say some stuff I mean, as I almost always do, that Morrison bloke. Yes, you know the one. I've often heard it said, seen it written that one is supposed to find the Doors, listen to them and then put them behind you. Like writing one's own poems, like wanting to be in a band, like all those other markers of adolescence. Sixth form poetry, his stuff has been called, with the clear implication that we are meant to leave it behind when we leave behind our youth.

Well now, I figure that if I haven't cut him away yet, I never will.

I walked a good portion of the way home today in the rain. Everything was grey. The sky was grey, the rain was grey, the pavement and roads, the buildings and the light were all grey. The rain was wicked cold and I was tired. Still, I was listening to An American Prayer so I noted the greyness and decided I didn't care much.

I even started composing this post, but it was the usual stuff. You know, "Oh woe!" and "I hate him, I love him, I hate him!" and "He's a twat, he's a genius, he's a cunt, he's fabulous!"

Fact is, I was supposed to have outgrown him and his music by now. I think I was supposed to be a grown up, but I didn't bother with that either.

Then again, I don't think you could call me a typical Doors fan. You know the ones, those muppets who give Doors fans such a bad fucking name. The people who cannot, will not, accept any kind of criticism towards the band no matter how deserved. The people who make themselves look like the Doors. The people who drop acid and smoke dope just to be like Jim. The people who blindly, unquestioningly worship at the candle-strewn altar of His Holiness The Jim. These are the people who scrawl shit over all those graves in Paris who nearly got the man exhumed seven years ago. These are the people who get me funny looks from other people when I say "yeah, I'm a Doors fan." I almost always have to clarify it and I hate having to do that. It's not the band's fault really - I know they despised the blind acolytes even at the time.

There's a great and revealing moment in a live recording:

Jim: I don't know how many of you believe in astrology... I am a sagittarius, the most philosophical of all the signs.
Girl In Audience In Almost Agonised Tones: I know, so am I!
Jim: ... but anyway I don't believe in it.
Girl In Audience In Almost Agonised Tones: I don't either!
Jim: I think it's a bunch of bullshit myself.
Girl In Audience And Everyone Else Who Believed In Astrology Ten Seconds Ago: YEAH!

Now, I don't believe in astrology although I find it interesting occasionally... but nothing could induce me to pretend just so someone would like me, then switch round immediately he said "actually, no."

The funny thing is, though, the Doors don't really belong to the sheep and the lemmings. They don't belong to the people who fit in, or are popular. The Doors are a band of outsiders for outsiders - let's just remember that our boy was considered a freak by many people at school. Most teenagers reading sixteenth century books about witchcraft would probably be thrown into therapy the second they checked the book out of the library these days. Perhaps in another life that twisted slightly differently, Jim would've been the kind of teenager that walked into his school one day and shot a bunch of his classmates...

I've been an outsider for my entire life, from one perspective or another, to one degree or another. When I was sixteen I really wouldn't have minded if I'd died. I felt absolutely alone, absolutely without hope or chance of happiness. Honestly, I occasionally think that I dreamed it, or that my fevered imagination has exaggerated it - but then I come to my senses and know that I was truly, desperately sad. The Beatles did their part - I maintain that John Lennon has, in some important ways, saved my life. But, and this is important, the Doors helped me find the courage to say: "FUCK YOU, WORLD!" and "I AM WHAT I AM AND FUCK YOU I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!"

Or, as he put it: Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

Before the Doors, I wanted people to think I didn't care. After the Doors, I really didn't care. Jim helped me find that - he didn't give it to me, but he helped me find it. It takes a great deal of courage to tell the world to fuck off, and I can't claim that I always feel that way... but it's also hugely emancipating to know that you are your own creation, that you cannot be made to feel bad.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the one who said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." and it's true. I knew that it was true when I was younger, so much younger than today. It was Morrison who pushed me towards withdrawing that consent from most of the world.

It should also be said that the man influenced my own writing. There's a notebook or so full of stuff involving souls and darkness, death and dancing, time and sadness. I can't tell you if any of it's any good... perhaps it's just as sixth form as he was accused of being. Maybe one day I'll find that notebook and share it with you.

It's at this point I should maybe talk about the music. So much mention is made these days of the legend and the myth and the tales of dark deeds done that the music is forgotten. NEWS FLASH: It's really quite good. Some of it's some of the best music you'll ever hear.

Recently I was listening to the very excellent mash-up by a guy called CCC called Cracked Pepper (google for it) which is the entirety of the Sgt Pepper record mashed up with stuff. I got as far as the Within You Without You track and was listening... and I had no idea which songs had been mashed in, but this particular one felt terrifically familiar. I couldn't work it out at first (I'd be rubbish at Intros on Buzzcocks) but it felt like something hardcoded in my head... First, I recognised the bass-line from Fire by Hendrix, but the drums were... I remember I was walking down Goodge Street at about quarter to nine in the morning. As I crossed the street the little Doors switch in my head flipped. I knew it but couldn't think what it was, couldn't get to the bit that would definitely identify it, there was no organ track yet. I had the band, the album but not the track. Silly, right? Bear in mind I didn't know the name of the mash-up track, which would've told me.

Then all of a sudden, from George's dear but slightly reedy voice, it switched: "AND WE'RE ON OUR WAY! NO, WE CAN'T TURN BACK!"

Dear God, the lurch in my stomach when Jim suddenly turned up out of nowhere. The contrast between George (who I love dearly also) and his higher, thinner voice and Jim's big, deep, round voice was so... it would be stupid and cliche to say "oh, it was like coming home", but there was such a sense of absolute familiarity, as if the voice was in fact coming from deep inside my own psyche.

Perhaps at this point it is.

What I really like about listening to music on an iPod or other such personal device, is the way it feels like the music is directly inside your head. There's no air, no space between you and the sound. Now, it might send me deaf before I'm thirty, and I don't listen too loudly all that much... but sometimes all I can do is turn it up so there's nothing but me and them. Might be the Doors, might be Dean or even the aforementioned George, maybe Dylan (buzzsaw with hair, but I love him)... I remember finally being able to really hear the low chanting of "get together one more time" in Five To One by the Doors in this manner.

I really like how it makes Jim's voice so close to me, like it really is all in my head. Perhaps it is, maybe he's a construct from my crazed consciousness like Gene Hunt... I'm getting off the point. The music is really good. It doesn't really belong in any genre from the period in which it was made - it's not hippy-dippy love-and-peace psychedelia, nor is it protest-folk, pop, or even the Velvets. The music doesn't belong anywhere, which renders it somewhat timeless, and therefore perfect for the outsider types. The music doesn't belong, neither do we and so we belong to each other.

The Doors were a big band. They were successful and made a lot of money. They still do, thanks to their avaricious plundering and constant repackaging of their back catalogue... but they never belonged to the happy, contented citizens of the world. The people who really fell in love with them were the ones like me, who were looking for something and found it in Los Angeles, 1967.

Actually, I found it in Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Riders on the Storm was in the intros round as performed by Tony Hadley & Bobby Davro (of all the unlikely combos, right?). Wikipedia, being the giant of information it is, informs me that this episode was first shown on 9th April 1999. I bought a Doors greatest hits on the back of it, as I recall, and it was all downhill from there.

That's not entirely true. I don't remember the first time i heard of the Doors or of their singer. I grew up with rock music so I assume I just picked it up somewhere along the line. When I started reading MOJO magazine, it had pull out photographs in the middle. The first or second issue I got in 1997 (either Lennon or psychedelia, I don't remember which) had that famous photo of Morrison, cruciform. It got put up immediately - I was so keen to pull the thing out that I tore it slightly in the margin. I still have the picture, which still has the chunk torn out.

The odd thing is, 1997 doesn't feel that long ago. 1999 certainly doesn't, yet it feels like I have had that voice in my head for longer than I remember. Maybe I have. Still, I didn't own every single record until I was in California - I went all the way to Fashion Island to the music store there and dropped some mad amount like ninety dollars in one go to complete the set.

I wanted to avoid saying the same old things as before. Since this blog started rather unevenly in late 2002, Mr. Morrison has been a frequent visitor, the same old "I love I hate" stuff as has been going on since whenever. Ask my poor, long suffering friends who had to suffer through the rants, the waxing lyrical and back again in person, on the phone, etc etc.There is one ray of hope for my potential for maturity though, and it's to do with him. For some time now, there has been no "I love I hate". I have truly despised him sometimes. I have truly loved him. I have yearned and sobbed, yelled and screamed. Then for Christmas 2006 I got up on stage at the Borderline in London and sang a version of Light My Fire that was part Julie London and part Doors. That night I'd also bought The Doors by the Doors book.

I have not hated him since. Something about that day had me make my peace with the demon lurking in the back of my brain. Conceivably I learned to empathise with him for the first time. I don't know. Now I can approach him with... serenity. At last, I made my peace with him. I'm sure I'll have days where I hate him again, whether for dying or being an arsehole or being a bit rubbish sometimes, or for lying or dying... but it will have no teeth. I am past the point of wanting to resurrect him so I can smash him in the face. I can think of him and smile now, and I think that's a real accomplishment. Look Ma, all half-growed up - Next, reality! Now I can just listen to the music and feel warmth... and I am so glad for it.

Maybe it's the first step to outgrowing them. Jimself also said: "Hatred is a very underestimated emotion". When the hate is gone, perhaps the fire is gone. I hope I don't leave them behind, because thinking of Morrison with a smile is a new and truly stupendous feeling to have.

I wonder, did I make peace with Morrison or with myself? I shall finish with a line from Marilyn Manson's Rolling Stone piece about Jim for the Legends thing a few years ago. I nodded and agreed with everything he said - as an intelligent and thoughtful man loved by outsiders painted by the rest of the world as a terrible freak who'd bring down the Establishment and corrupt the Youth I suppose he was uniquely placed to comment upon an intelligent and thoughtful man loved by outsiders painted by the rest of the world as a terrible freak who'd bring down the Establishment and corrupt the Youth.

I wish every single mindless Doorzoid would be hit over the head with this until it sunk in:

But it's all just ideas pasted on ideas, faded copies of copies. If you want to be like Jim Morrison, you can't be anything like Jim Morrison. It's about finding your own place in the world.


*

In other news, I believe that, unless Season Nine turns out to be better than Season Eight, I have declared 'Radar Leaving' as the moment MASH jumped the shark. I have also decided that I really love the phrase 'jumped the shark', possibly because I have seen the scene in Happy Days it refers to.

Also: I recommend not putting Creme Eggs in the fridge - the soft centre goes all solid and bizarre.
apolla: (Smiler)
I turned twenty-six the other day. A friend bought me a purple lily which I hope I won't kill as quickly as I tend to kill most plants. Otherwise it was an ordinary day - I went home after work and watched Saved!, stayed up too late watching TV and woke up the next morning more exhausted than I was when I went to sleep.

*

Anyway, I started thinking about something today when the shuffle on my iPod hit some particular tracks. It was very simple: I think I was supposed to have outgrown some stuff by now.

When I say some stuff I mean, as I almost always do, that Morrison bloke. Yes, you know the one. I've often heard it said, seen it written that one is supposed to find the Doors, listen to them and then put them behind you. Like writing one's own poems, like wanting to be in a band, like all those other markers of adolescence. Sixth form poetry, his stuff has been called, with the clear implication that we are meant to leave it behind when we leave behind our youth.

Well now, I figure that if I haven't cut him away yet, I never will.

I walked a good portion of the way home today in the rain. Everything was grey. The sky was grey, the rain was grey, the pavement and roads, the buildings and the light were all grey. The rain was wicked cold and I was tired. Still, I was listening to An American Prayer so I noted the greyness and decided I didn't care much.

I even started composing this post, but it was the usual stuff. You know, "Oh woe!" and "I hate him, I love him, I hate him!" and "He's a twat, he's a genius, he's a cunt, he's fabulous!"

Fact is, I was supposed to have outgrown him and his music by now. I think I was supposed to be a grown up, but I didn't bother with that either.

Then again, I don't think you could call me a typical Doors fan. You know the ones, those muppets who give Doors fans such a bad fucking name. The people who cannot, will not, accept any kind of criticism towards the band no matter how deserved. The people who make themselves look like the Doors. The people who drop acid and smoke dope just to be like Jim. The people who blindly, unquestioningly worship at the candle-strewn altar of His Holiness The Jim. These are the people who scrawl shit over all those graves in Paris who nearly got the man exhumed seven years ago. These are the people who get me funny looks from other people when I say "yeah, I'm a Doors fan." I almost always have to clarify it and I hate having to do that. It's not the band's fault really - I know they despised the blind acolytes even at the time.

There's a great and revealing moment in a live recording:

Jim: I don't know how many of you believe in astrology... I am a sagittarius, the most philosophical of all the signs.
Girl In Audience In Almost Agonised Tones: I know, so am I!
Jim: ... but anyway I don't believe in it.
Girl In Audience In Almost Agonised Tones: I don't either!
Jim: I think it's a bunch of bullshit myself.
Girl In Audience And Everyone Else Who Believed In Astrology Ten Seconds Ago: YEAH!

Now, I don't believe in astrology although I find it interesting occasionally... but nothing could induce me to pretend just so someone would like me, then switch round immediately he said "actually, no."

The funny thing is, though, the Doors don't really belong to the sheep and the lemmings. They don't belong to the people who fit in, or are popular. The Doors are a band of outsiders for outsiders - let's just remember that our boy was considered a freak by many people at school. Most teenagers reading sixteenth century books about witchcraft would probably be thrown into therapy the second they checked the book out of the library these days. Perhaps in another life that twisted slightly differently, Jim would've been the kind of teenager that walked into his school one day and shot a bunch of his classmates...

I've been an outsider for my entire life, from one perspective or another, to one degree or another. When I was sixteen I really wouldn't have minded if I'd died. I felt absolutely alone, absolutely without hope or chance of happiness. Honestly, I occasionally think that I dreamed it, or that my fevered imagination has exaggerated it - but then I come to my senses and know that I was truly, desperately sad. The Beatles did their part - I maintain that John Lennon has, in some important ways, saved my life. But, and this is important, the Doors helped me find the courage to say: "FUCK YOU, WORLD!" and "I AM WHAT I AM AND FUCK YOU I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!"

Or, as he put it: Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

Before the Doors, I wanted people to think I didn't care. After the Doors, I really didn't care. Jim helped me find that - he didn't give it to me, but he helped me find it. It takes a great deal of courage to tell the world to fuck off, and I can't claim that I always feel that way... but it's also hugely emancipating to know that you are your own creation, that you cannot be made to feel bad.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the one who said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." and it's true. I knew that it was true when I was younger, so much younger than today. It was Morrison who pushed me towards withdrawing that consent from most of the world.

It should also be said that the man influenced my own writing. There's a notebook or so full of stuff involving souls and darkness, death and dancing, time and sadness. I can't tell you if any of it's any good... perhaps it's just as sixth form as he was accused of being. Maybe one day I'll find that notebook and share it with you.

It's at this point I should maybe talk about the music. So much mention is made these days of the legend and the myth and the tales of dark deeds done that the music is forgotten. NEWS FLASH: It's really quite good. Some of it's some of the best music you'll ever hear.

Recently I was listening to the very excellent mash-up by a guy called CCC called Cracked Pepper (google for it) which is the entirety of the Sgt Pepper record mashed up with stuff. I got as far as the Within You Without You track and was listening... and I had no idea which songs had been mashed in, but this particular one felt terrifically familiar. I couldn't work it out at first (I'd be rubbish at Intros on Buzzcocks) but it felt like something hardcoded in my head... First, I recognised the bass-line from Fire by Hendrix, but the drums were... I remember I was walking down Goodge Street at about quarter to nine in the morning. As I crossed the street the little Doors switch in my head flipped. I knew it but couldn't think what it was, couldn't get to the bit that would definitely identify it, there was no organ track yet. I had the band, the album but not the track. Silly, right? Bear in mind I didn't know the name of the mash-up track, which would've told me.

Then all of a sudden, from George's dear but slightly reedy voice, it switched: "AND WE'RE ON OUR WAY! NO, WE CAN'T TURN BACK!"

Dear God, the lurch in my stomach when Jim suddenly turned up out of nowhere. The contrast between George (who I love dearly also) and his higher, thinner voice and Jim's big, deep, round voice was so... it would be stupid and cliche to say "oh, it was like coming home", but there was such a sense of absolute familiarity, as if the voice was in fact coming from deep inside my own psyche.

Perhaps at this point it is.

What I really like about listening to music on an iPod or other such personal device, is the way it feels like the music is directly inside your head. There's no air, no space between you and the sound. Now, it might send me deaf before I'm thirty, and I don't listen too loudly all that much... but sometimes all I can do is turn it up so there's nothing but me and them. Might be the Doors, might be Dean or even the aforementioned George, maybe Dylan (buzzsaw with hair, but I love him)... I remember finally being able to really hear the low chanting of "get together one more time" in Five To One by the Doors in this manner.

I really like how it makes Jim's voice so close to me, like it really is all in my head. Perhaps it is, maybe he's a construct from my crazed consciousness like Gene Hunt... I'm getting off the point. The music is really good. It doesn't really belong in any genre from the period in which it was made - it's not hippy-dippy love-and-peace psychedelia, nor is it protest-folk, pop, or even the Velvets. The music doesn't belong anywhere, which renders it somewhat timeless, and therefore perfect for the outsider types. The music doesn't belong, neither do we and so we belong to each other.

The Doors were a big band. They were successful and made a lot of money. They still do, thanks to their avaricious plundering and constant repackaging of their back catalogue... but they never belonged to the happy, contented citizens of the world. The people who really fell in love with them were the ones like me, who were looking for something and found it in Los Angeles, 1967.

Actually, I found it in Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Riders on the Storm was in the intros round as performed by Tony Hadley & Bobby Davro (of all the unlikely combos, right?). Wikipedia, being the giant of information it is, informs me that this episode was first shown on 9th April 1999. I bought a Doors greatest hits on the back of it, as I recall, and it was all downhill from there.

That's not entirely true. I don't remember the first time i heard of the Doors or of their singer. I grew up with rock music so I assume I just picked it up somewhere along the line. When I started reading MOJO magazine, it had pull out photographs in the middle. The first or second issue I got in 1997 (either Lennon or psychedelia, I don't remember which) had that famous photo of Morrison, cruciform. It got put up immediately - I was so keen to pull the thing out that I tore it slightly in the margin. I still have the picture, which still has the chunk torn out.

The odd thing is, 1997 doesn't feel that long ago. 1999 certainly doesn't, yet it feels like I have had that voice in my head for longer than I remember. Maybe I have. Still, I didn't own every single record until I was in California - I went all the way to Fashion Island to the music store there and dropped some mad amount like ninety dollars in one go to complete the set.

I wanted to avoid saying the same old things as before. Since this blog started rather unevenly in late 2002, Mr. Morrison has been a frequent visitor, the same old "I love I hate" stuff as has been going on since whenever. Ask my poor, long suffering friends who had to suffer through the rants, the waxing lyrical and back again in person, on the phone, etc etc.There is one ray of hope for my potential for maturity though, and it's to do with him. For some time now, there has been no "I love I hate". I have truly despised him sometimes. I have truly loved him. I have yearned and sobbed, yelled and screamed. Then for Christmas 2006 I got up on stage at the Borderline in London and sang a version of Light My Fire that was part Julie London and part Doors. That night I'd also bought The Doors by the Doors book.

I have not hated him since. Something about that day had me make my peace with the demon lurking in the back of my brain. Conceivably I learned to empathise with him for the first time. I don't know. Now I can approach him with... serenity. At last, I made my peace with him. I'm sure I'll have days where I hate him again, whether for dying or being an arsehole or being a bit rubbish sometimes, or for lying or dying... but it will have no teeth. I am past the point of wanting to resurrect him so I can smash him in the face. I can think of him and smile now, and I think that's a real accomplishment. Look Ma, all half-growed up - Next, reality! Now I can just listen to the music and feel warmth... and I am so glad for it.

Maybe it's the first step to outgrowing them. Jimself also said: "Hatred is a very underestimated emotion". When the hate is gone, perhaps the fire is gone. I hope I don't leave them behind, because thinking of Morrison with a smile is a new and truly stupendous feeling to have.

I wonder, did I make peace with Morrison or with myself? I shall finish with a line from Marilyn Manson's Rolling Stone piece about Jim for the Legends thing a few years ago. I nodded and agreed with everything he said - as an intelligent and thoughtful man loved by outsiders painted by the rest of the world as a terrible freak who'd bring down the Establishment and corrupt the Youth I suppose he was uniquely placed to comment upon an intelligent and thoughtful man loved by outsiders painted by the rest of the world as a terrible freak who'd bring down the Establishment and corrupt the Youth.

I wish every single mindless Doorzoid would be hit over the head with this until it sunk in:

But it's all just ideas pasted on ideas, faded copies of copies. If you want to be like Jim Morrison, you can't be anything like Jim Morrison. It's about finding your own place in the world.


*

In other news, I believe that, unless Season Nine turns out to be better than Season Eight, I have declared 'Radar Leaving' as the moment MASH jumped the shark. I have also decided that I really love the phrase 'jumped the shark', possibly because I have seen the scene in Happy Days it refers to.

Also: I recommend not putting Creme Eggs in the fridge - the soft centre goes all solid and bizarre.
apolla: (Smiler)
I'm both bored and really trying to avoid ironing, even though I know that doing ironing will allow me to wear my granddad's tie at some point in the future....

So I present to you, hereby and heretofore, an iTunes Shuffle Meme:


In unrelated news: if I were to remove every shred of Jim Morrison-related stuff from my life, do you think I might become a responsible and sane member of society?
apolla: (Smiler)
I'm both bored and really trying to avoid ironing, even though I know that doing ironing will allow me to wear my granddad's tie at some point in the future....

So I present to you, hereby and heretofore, an iTunes Shuffle Meme:


In unrelated news: if I were to remove every shred of Jim Morrison-related stuff from my life, do you think I might become a responsible and sane member of society?
apolla: (Default)
So, Glastonbury.

That's Glastonbury, the festival that was established in 1970 because the hippies thought the other fests were too commercialised....

God, I love irony.

Let me say this: I would not want to go to The Big G as a civilian, paying customer. Not in a trillion years. My production wristband and BAA laminate (more of that later) came in SO handy, not least because we were able to camp backstage away from the thieving scallies. Apparently, the Geldof Girls were in the same field, but I wouldn't recognise them if they presented me with their Blockbuster cards.

The weather on Thursday was OK. I managed to wear shoes, instead of my new wellies (see here)... which was the only time I could do that. I now have thighs of steel and calves of titanium after four days of slogging in the mud. Not just mud but wet mud, sloppy mud, sloshly mud, sticky mud, squishy mud, quicksand mud, mud-and-straw, mud-and-woodchips and very occasionally, grassy mud. By Sunday night, my tent had taken on all the qualities of a waterbed, although I'd like to say that the groundsheet was so excellent that it didn't leak.

Also, because I'd actually taken the trouble to put my tent up properly, it neither leaked nor blew away.

But now to music, because that's nominally why we were all there. That word 'nominally' sounds small, but it's doing an awful lot of work in that sentence. In fact, despite it being the best food on site, I could hardly stand to stay in the Hospitality Bar for long because of the godawful hangers-on, liggers, blaggers, posers and 'I'm dressed for Heat magazine' types.

Full-face make up does not belong at music festivals, you foolish, vapid, vacant bints. Nor does hairspray.

Donny Tourette Syndrome or whatever his name is, is exactly as much of an idiot as you think he is. Possibly more.

Funny thing about Glastonbury is that the less you look out for these famous people, the more you see, especially backstage. There were more than I saw, but I didn't stay around long - I wasn't there to people-watch, I was setlist collecting, you know? My life doesn't begin and end with listing the famous people I met.

By the way, Phill Jupitus is a lovely, kind and funny man. He's great.

I got a free Johnny Clash (not a mistype) 45 from Billy Bragg for donating to Jail Guitar Doors (a great cause, google for it). Have to say I expected neither vinyl records or a raffle when I turned up at the Leftfield Stage on Sunday morning, yet got both.

I spent quite a lot of Friday in the Greenfields and Healing Field on Friday to avoid hanging around the Glade tent, so I spent more money on tarot, palm reading and astrology than I was expecting (or was wise) but it was pretty cool.

Sick of the smell of marijuana smoke, by the way. Fortunately, I didn't work the Dance Village, so didn't have to put up with coked up, ketamine-fuelled DJs, cos I would've just walked away.

The Who seemed really fuckin' lacklustre to me, as if they're just treading musical water and bored, and they're so much better than that - Real Good Looking Boy proved that. Please, my darlings, remember why you do music!

Also sick of hearing people excuse these guys for being a bit shit by saying "oh, they're getting on". THEY'RE NOT THAT FUCKING OLD! I don't expect them to be leaping around. I don't expect Iggy Pop to still be perfectly skinny (and trust me, he aint, but the hair's beautiful). What I DEMAND is that these GIANTS OF MUSICIANS DO THEIR JOBS TO THE BEST OF THEIR ASTOUNDING ABILITIES! Are you telling me that Pete Townshend is no longer able to create decent music because of his age? Keith Richards too, for that matter?

I've got a mental list of bands I need to see before they die. I saw the Not-Doors in 2003 and left pretty much in murderous tears. I saw the remainder of Thin Lizzy in a couple of guises and they were good but not great. I saw the Rolling Stones at the Isle of Wight and Keith Richards was doing his best Bert Weedon in a coma impression. I've now more or less completed the list with the Who, and I left them to it during the encore, and walked back to my tent behind the stage feeling like I wanted to slit my wrists or find a spare TARDIS and fuck off back to 1974.

Glastonbury must've been a sight to see back then. I'd give my right kidney to be at the Isle of Wight in 1970 when my dear Doors were there with Jimi.

I wanted Jim Morrison, and I got Pete Doherty. I wanted The Who and got The What? I wanted... I wanted greatness and instead I got the Killers and the Arctic Monkeys. I'm sure that's good enough for some people, but it's not good enough for me.

It's like... Amy Winehouse is a good singer, especially compared to everyone around at the moment. But put the girl in a room with La Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday or Peggy Lee and she's.... not very much, actually. All these bands at the moment are OK, but they're not great. I didn't see a single act this weekend that made my heart thump or my soul soar.

It is WRONG that the best things I saw all weekend were comedians and Tony Benn. That the music was the least of my weekend proves only that Glastonbury is now the Disneyworld of music festivals - expensive, too big, crushed under its own self-importance and populated with mindless, vacant people. I love Disneyworld, but I'm not sure I respect it. I liked Glastonbury, but I didn't love it and I can't respect it.

It's now something people go to because they're now middle aged and didn't go when they were young, or they go to so they can say 'I went to Glasto, don't you know?' That's OK, but cancel my subscription to the resurrection.
apolla: (Default)
So, Glastonbury.

That's Glastonbury, the festival that was established in 1970 because the hippies thought the other fests were too commercialised....

God, I love irony.

Let me say this: I would not want to go to The Big G as a civilian, paying customer. Not in a trillion years. My production wristband and BAA laminate (more of that later) came in SO handy, not least because we were able to camp backstage away from the thieving scallies. Apparently, the Geldof Girls were in the same field, but I wouldn't recognise them if they presented me with their Blockbuster cards.

The weather on Thursday was OK. I managed to wear shoes, instead of my new wellies (see here)... which was the only time I could do that. I now have thighs of steel and calves of titanium after four days of slogging in the mud. Not just mud but wet mud, sloppy mud, sloshly mud, sticky mud, squishy mud, quicksand mud, mud-and-straw, mud-and-woodchips and very occasionally, grassy mud. By Sunday night, my tent had taken on all the qualities of a waterbed, although I'd like to say that the groundsheet was so excellent that it didn't leak.

Also, because I'd actually taken the trouble to put my tent up properly, it neither leaked nor blew away.

But now to music, because that's nominally why we were all there. That word 'nominally' sounds small, but it's doing an awful lot of work in that sentence. In fact, despite it being the best food on site, I could hardly stand to stay in the Hospitality Bar for long because of the godawful hangers-on, liggers, blaggers, posers and 'I'm dressed for Heat magazine' types.

Full-face make up does not belong at music festivals, you foolish, vapid, vacant bints. Nor does hairspray.

Donny Tourette Syndrome or whatever his name is, is exactly as much of an idiot as you think he is. Possibly more.

Funny thing about Glastonbury is that the less you look out for these famous people, the more you see, especially backstage. There were more than I saw, but I didn't stay around long - I wasn't there to people-watch, I was setlist collecting, you know? My life doesn't begin and end with listing the famous people I met.

By the way, Phill Jupitus is a lovely, kind and funny man. He's great.

I got a free Johnny Clash (not a mistype) 45 from Billy Bragg for donating to Jail Guitar Doors (a great cause, google for it). Have to say I expected neither vinyl records or a raffle when I turned up at the Leftfield Stage on Sunday morning, yet got both.

I spent quite a lot of Friday in the Greenfields and Healing Field on Friday to avoid hanging around the Glade tent, so I spent more money on tarot, palm reading and astrology than I was expecting (or was wise) but it was pretty cool.

Sick of the smell of marijuana smoke, by the way. Fortunately, I didn't work the Dance Village, so didn't have to put up with coked up, ketamine-fuelled DJs, cos I would've just walked away.

The Who seemed really fuckin' lacklustre to me, as if they're just treading musical water and bored, and they're so much better than that - Real Good Looking Boy proved that. Please, my darlings, remember why you do music!

Also sick of hearing people excuse these guys for being a bit shit by saying "oh, they're getting on". THEY'RE NOT THAT FUCKING OLD! I don't expect them to be leaping around. I don't expect Iggy Pop to still be perfectly skinny (and trust me, he aint, but the hair's beautiful). What I DEMAND is that these GIANTS OF MUSICIANS DO THEIR JOBS TO THE BEST OF THEIR ASTOUNDING ABILITIES! Are you telling me that Pete Townshend is no longer able to create decent music because of his age? Keith Richards too, for that matter?

I've got a mental list of bands I need to see before they die. I saw the Not-Doors in 2003 and left pretty much in murderous tears. I saw the remainder of Thin Lizzy in a couple of guises and they were good but not great. I saw the Rolling Stones at the Isle of Wight and Keith Richards was doing his best Bert Weedon in a coma impression. I've now more or less completed the list with the Who, and I left them to it during the encore, and walked back to my tent behind the stage feeling like I wanted to slit my wrists or find a spare TARDIS and fuck off back to 1974.

Glastonbury must've been a sight to see back then. I'd give my right kidney to be at the Isle of Wight in 1970 when my dear Doors were there with Jimi.

I wanted Jim Morrison, and I got Pete Doherty. I wanted The Who and got The What? I wanted... I wanted greatness and instead I got the Killers and the Arctic Monkeys. I'm sure that's good enough for some people, but it's not good enough for me.

It's like... Amy Winehouse is a good singer, especially compared to everyone around at the moment. But put the girl in a room with La Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday or Peggy Lee and she's.... not very much, actually. All these bands at the moment are OK, but they're not great. I didn't see a single act this weekend that made my heart thump or my soul soar.

It is WRONG that the best things I saw all weekend were comedians and Tony Benn. That the music was the least of my weekend proves only that Glastonbury is now the Disneyworld of music festivals - expensive, too big, crushed under its own self-importance and populated with mindless, vacant people. I love Disneyworld, but I'm not sure I respect it. I liked Glastonbury, but I didn't love it and I can't respect it.

It's now something people go to because they're now middle aged and didn't go when they were young, or they go to so they can say 'I went to Glasto, don't you know?' That's OK, but cancel my subscription to the resurrection.
apolla: (Percy)
Robert Plant. That name has stirred a number of emotions within me over the years. First was the vague kind of recognition that I have about a lot of things, and you know, I don't remember the first time I heard of him. Then came idle curiosity- who is this man in this band of whom so much has been said, done and written? Who is this man with the sub-Parton hair and the spray-on jeans?

I can't lie to you: it's not like Led Zeppelin has always been a part of my life. My dad doesn't dislike that kind of music so much as just completely disregard it, so it wasn't on the record player when I was young, unlike Buddy Holly or Elvis. I had to find these guys on my own, and it's funny, but it was less obvious than The Doors were. Huh. Well anyway, I know I had IV with me when I went to California. Within a year, I'd bought a bunch of the other records too- I remember really hearing Houses of the Holy for the first time in Lancaster. Traveling Riverside Blues was one of the first Zep videos I saw on Vh1 Classic, and I loved it. Ironically of course, it's not even something they released at the time. 

As some of you know, I was in love with these guys from the start- there was never a real middle ground between me and The Zep. I believe, in fact, thinking on it, that the great love for Zeppelin began at around the same time this blog caper started. If I'm right. I don't remember what I was listening to that Summer, but I think Zeppelin featured quite strongly. Thin Lizzy got a mention in mid-December 2002 "listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy lately, interspersed with Nat King Cole." Robert got his first, seemingly throwaway mention on 28th December 2002... but sure, don't you know these things are never throwaway with me when it comes to rock and roll: "One of my dreams, my very real dreams is to be a rock musician. I want to be the girl who makes it in the last bastion of masculinity. Of course, I'm not exactly feminine. I want to be Jim and Robert Plant and Phil and John all rolled up into one."

The Zeppelin (and beyond that Robert alone) turned out to be the antibiotic for the Doors infection I had. That nearly destroyed me (and I'm not convinced I'm out the woods even now) but Led Zeppelin (and my actual friends, I hasten to add) pulled me out of the hole. Say what you like about them, but it's hard to be miserable when you listen to Led Zeppelin. Call them crass, sexist or whatever, but they're so rarely depressing... unlike the Doors, who were crass, sexist and depressing for quite a proportion of their recording career.

You know, the first person I noticed in Zeppelin was Jimmy. I thought that it (and by extension I myself) was all about the guitar sound back then, but now I know there's more than that. I'm not about any particular thing any more, although guitars are my great love, because I know that for all the guitar skill in the world, no twenty-minute guitar solo is bearable unless there's a great singer coming up. Actually, I'd ask most guitarists to put a lid on it somewhere around the fifteen minute mark. Less is more, etc etc.

There's one big, glaring difference between Robert Plant and some of the other people who get their mentions here a lot. It's perhaps so glaring that you haven't thought of it, or perhaps you have. It's this: Robert Plant is alive. Imagine the novelty, the sheer scuffing novelty of having a hero that was and remains gloriously, wonderously alive!

It's that novelty, and I maintain that alone, which led to something I have refused to acknowledge openly and publicly until now (except to The Best Friend. She's exempt from the definition of 'public'). I have, in my time, had a monster of a crush on Robert Plant. I mean, one of those all-consuming, can't-sleep can't-eat crushes. One of those childish, girlish live-happily-ever-after fucking crushes. Don't laugh. I know you mostly guessed, because I didn't hide it so much as try to dodge it. I'm sure you mostly find it really funny or whatever. I never did.

I mean come on, try to imagine that there's this voice you can't live without. Really can't stand to be away from it. Plant's voice isn't the only one of those I've got, and he certainly wasn't the first or last or greatest. But for awhile, it caused me genuine anxiety to be away from it, genuine stress. Now try to imagine that you believe yourself in love with the owner of said voice. Done? Right, now imagine that he's thirty-three years older than you are, with children a decade older than you. Now imagine that you know all the shit he's done down the years, apocryphal, seafood-based or otherwise.

Now try and reconcile all of that to the concept 'happy-ever-after' and see what it does to your head. Sure, I had a monster crush on old Perce, but it wasn't out of choice. Even at the time, I was sure it was the novelty of the guy being alive. Then again, that does a disservice to him and to the dead guys, because I don't think I'd be in love with Philip or with Jim if they were alive, at least not in a straightforward romantic sense. It's never been that fucking simple with these people.

I've had crushes in my time. Going back to find my first mention of Percy on LJ, I discovered that back in late 2002, I had apparently had a crush on Josh Hartnett. Not only had I forgotten this, I don't even remember how it felt. It can't have lasted long, although I'm sure there was something in California. I don't remember. My very first crush is currently buggering about with David Gest in the jungle (this very sentence is the kind of thing he'd sue over as well ;) ). It's not like I haven't had crushes in my time: I'm not actually dead inside, I just live as if I were. There's a difference, of course: I'd forgotten about the bloke from the Unwatchable Pearl Harbor... but the day I forget about Robert Plant is the day I enter Hell.

Because no, it wasn't just the novelty. It wasn't based on the fucking trousers, nor the hair, nor the smile. No, these are the things silly girl crushes are made of and those always die. The crush on Percy did, although he's still beautiful, the trousers are still DVT inducing and the smile is still a killer. No, rock loves never die, because rock never dies. As long as you love the music, I'll love the man. It's possible, it's utterly, utterly possible, to look at these people and see their beauty and their charm without falling in love with it. Sure, I did it with Scott Gorham for years, I've done it with Dean Martin and Jimmy Page, with George and John and Ringo and Paul, with all the people you could mention that I have loved and respected. I'll tell you at length why these people are wondrous, why they're worthy of my devotion. Jim Morrison's a special case because he exists on a different, but still non-romantic plane of thought. Philip Lynott too. These guys, by dying, have given me other things, they each exist in my world for reasons apart from everyone else. One is the demon on my left shoulder and the other is the demon on my right, obviously.

I'm getting off the point I came here to make. Nine Lives came out today, which is a boxed set (in time for Christmas! How handy, as if it had been meticulously planned!)  of Robert Plant's solo records, right from Pictures at Eleven to Mighty Rearranger. Sure, I had four or five of them already, but there was a DVD with a documentary and twenty music videos from the last twenty-five years and so I handed over fifty quid without a thought. It's a rock fool thing, OK?

I have been reminded of all the reasons it is so easy to love this guy. He's always been teetering on the line between sublime and ridiculous, and crosses onto either side as often as the other. These videos have been at times, laugh out loud ridiculous, but the music is almost always sublime. He can't dance and never could. The kind of clothes he's worn down the years makes me want to take a machete to his wardrobe and the videos look, on occasion, like they were made by two tone-deaf eight-year-olds with a budget of no more than £5.25 and a packet of Frazzles. His relationship to the truth is a bit ropey- his answers to the Shark Incident question have been different every time he's been asked since it happened. "I honestly don't remember." "Nothing to do with me, honest, Guv." "Oh yeah, that happened, although it weren't me, Guv. Took the wife in to have a look." "Oh, it was Richard Cole and Bonzo, I wasn't there." "It was just Richard Cole. None of us were there." "Oh yeah, we were all there."  Then there's his Q interview awhile back where he swears that he never cheated on his wife throughout his Zeppelin career. Now, the tone of the conversation isn't sufficiently put across, but I don't believe that as far as I can throw Arnie in a Humvee. His arrogance at the height of Zeppelin is almost sickening: "Some days I look out and want to fuck the whole front row." Moreoever, the Golden God moment. And for the love of God, the man has willingly recorded music with Phil Collins, more than once.

Then again, he's always been funny and remarkably self-effacing. In that same Q interview, when asked what he'd like to say of his Eighties output, he replied: "Is 'sorry' enough?" Adorable, innee?

Moreover, he's never rested on the laurels chucked at him in his Led Zeppelin days. Forgive me for now sounding like a sycophantic music magazine article, but he has never stayed still. He's got the music that he's always loved from the fifties, he's always had the blues, but he's found other things to love also. The music has never been quite the same, and it's never been created for the consumption of thousands. Led Zeppelin were a stadium band, but Robert Plant is an act one should see in small places, like Somerset House as the sun sets behind him when the air is heavy with rain that he seems to be keeping at bay with his superpowers. Led Zeppelin were a band to sell millions of records and take over radio. Robert Plant is an act for the believers, for the people who love music, for the people willing to put some effort in. Led Zeppelin are a band to giggle over, to joke about tight trousers and big hair and sharks. Robert Plant is a singer to listen to and take notice of on a higher plane of existence.

Robert Plant is an incredibly well-travelled, intelligent and articulate person who actually thinks about the music he writes and sings... which is why the Small Faces thing was such a fucking disappointment to me... but this box proves that a moment's outright plagiarism (only in my opinion, of couse) has been smashed to pieces by a solo career that, for sheer scope and originality has not been equalled by anyone in rock music who was ever in a band. Not McCartney, nor Harrison, nor Lennon. Not any Stone or Lizzy, nor any Door. I dare you, I challenge you all, to equal it. Let me rephrase that: Plenty of musicians are eclectic, searching for all kinds in all places... but do they sound like him as well?

His voice still makes my soul soar. The 'Going To California' rendition this summer at Somerset House made me weep. A fucking song, one that's never been my favourite, made me weep for the beauty of it. My crush, that silly thing, died out after a few months... but the song remains the same, the voice is still the thing that captures my being and makes it joyful. Jim Morrison is the dark shadow on my soul... and Robert Plant is the light that helps it fade.

I don't care about shit 80s videos, Phil Collins collaborations, curly mullets, whatever... I think that since Bonzo died, Plant has been making the records he wants to make, and I love that. Because it's the music I love, because it's the man I respect and not the other way around, it doesn't end. Crushes end, but it's impossible to fall out of love with the music you adore. I'll love Robert Plant forever, but not in the way most people will assume. It has nothing to do with silver and turquoise jewellery or jeans or hair or legends and myths and the nonsense. It is the music, it is that voice, that scuffing indefinable voice. Once that has you in its grip, you can't fall out of love with it: it will not let you.

He can't dance and has no sense of personal rhythm. He has some of the worst dress sense I've ever seen. These days he has a face like a bag of chamois leathers. But God, I adore that man. It's true: a beautiful voice makes most things seem so trivial, and it makes for a real love that lasts for always.

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