Sunday, 5 October 2008

Started out with nothing

I liked Seasick Steve’s song title I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left. Partly because it’s amusing and partly because it’s economical: it tells you everything you need to know about the man - his image and his music. Which mean you don’t actually have to listen to him.

We’re watching him on TV, and Partner (who is a guitarist) says: the blues is much more interesting to play than it is to listen to.

When you think about it, that probably applies to most music. Jazz? Definitely. Folk? Often. Rock? If it’s guitar solos or drum solos, almost certainly- although, at its best, I still think it’s the type of music most likely to excite and entrance the people listening as well as the people playing it.

Actually, you can probably apply the theory to most kinds of artistic activity. Lots of people paint but it doesn’t mean their paintings are any good. Lots of people write poetry but 99 per cent is crap. (OK, lots of people write blogs as well... I’m not sure I like where this is going.)

Over the years, I’ve been the bored recipient of a lot of mediocre music, writing, exhibitions, theatre, television and film. The great thing is that it hasn’t stopped me continuing to search out all these things. Even in the cultural desert I now call home, there’s not a week goes by that I don’t come across something that makes me want to shout: take notice of this, someone here has a vision. And it’s in those moments of discovery that I’m happiest, because just for a while I can forget I’m supposed to be a middle-aged cynic.

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