Sunday, August 15, 2010

Do put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Robinson...

Someone asked this afternoon, as I was relaxing over a burger the size of Belgium and gently wrangling a small boy who was as interested in the house labradoodle as he was the feta on my plate, whether I was a full time musician. “Oh lord, no!” I answered, almost indelicately swiftly. “Only my son wants to be in a band” she said “...and I was wondering if you had any advice?”. I think I responded that in order to become a full time musician you need either a very thick hide or an extraordinarily understanding girlfriend – the former so you can deal with the inevitable setbacks and brickbats you are likely to experience while pursuing your muse, and the second in order that you have somewhere to live whilst doing so. Preferably of course, you have both. It is difficult to reflect sensibly on all that when you're settled over a nice Pinot Grigio watching Deep Purple and Cheap Trick on Sky Arts from the comfort of your own armchair but I think it was the Purps' reading of Smoke On The Water that set me off on this train of thought – after all, if I hadn't been in a band I never would have enjoyed the experience of playing that song while simultaneously whispering the words into the ear of our singer and watching the bass player to check on the chords while on stage playing at a wedding reception on a set that (I believe) was used in one of the Harry Potter films. Those are the bits the careers officer doesn't tell you about when you fill in the form. I'm sure Rick Nielsen didn't approach the High School Dean and shyly hand over a piece of paper on which, under, 'ambitions' he had written ”To appear at The Budokan playing a Fats Domino song on a five-necked guitar” (which, of course, if he had've done, would have made a great deal more sense in the long run). Similarly, that tufty-haired drummer-to-be from Clacton who I ended up sharing a hotel in Arras with probably didn't have high on his list of things to do “Seeing if you can walk around the outside of the hotel on the third floor ledge” but that's what he was gifted the opportunity to do through the power of music. Or would have done had we not been there to persuade him otherwise. Borrowing a corkscrew from Robert Plant's road crew, chatting to the drummer from The Minus Three backstage at a festival, nightswimming in a millionaire's pool and watching your lead singer throw up in a French ornamental fountain over the course of a four stage lunch. Rock n' roll you gave me the best years of my life.

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