Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 101: “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.”

Three and a half years ago, I made a big, big mistake and broke a golden rule of mine: to never never never go and see a live concert of a rock/pop music idol I loved (back then) on a revival tour, now.

I have a belief that popular music is at it’s mosty pointy-end for us, between the ages of about 11 and 21, the 15-17 year age marking the epicentre. I don’t know about the yoof of today, but for me and my generation, what music I liked determined who I hung out with, where I went, what I wore and what my drug of choice was.

I was 11 in 1969 and my golden ‘music‘ years lasted through to the age of 21 in 1979; my epicentre was 1973 to 1975 and you know what? I wouldn’t swap my time, that window of music for nuttin’. I caught the end of the 60’s and hung in there with rock music (then called “contemporary” or “progressive”) until those bands lumbered into supergroup, stadium-playing inconsequentiality. The bands I loved peaked, then bloated and gorged themselves on their own magnificence before number-crunching one or two dud albums for the record companies, demanding the birth of punk. Gabba gabba hey hey, hip hip huzzah.

But in the day, I was concert-going at least once a month with like-minded friends; dousing myself in patchouli oil, schlepping about in an ex-RAF greatcoat, cheesecloth shirt, brush-denim loons (pants that flared from the knee down), cheesecloth shirt, suede desert boots and love beads. I liked to think I was very Robert Plant but was, in fact, more Neil from 'The Young Ones'.

The bands that we saw, featured guys who were just that bit older than ourselves (probably in their 20’s): Deep Purple, Free, Genesis, Groundhogs, Uriah Heap, Yes, Rory Gallagher, Hawkwind, Jethro Tull, Bad Company, Status Quo, The Who and the like. Most of those men must be in their 60’s now and are touring.....everywhere! This has to stop.

Led Zeppelin were nothing short of colossi circa ’71 through ’75, but why on earth would you want to go and see them now when, like most of these bands, one of the original line-up is dead (replaced by a son) and those left behind can’t hit the high notes and end on a low note?!

When Roger Daltrey sang, in ‘My Generation’, “...hope I die before I get old...”, no one took him on face value, but the spirit of what he and the other three members of The Who were saying, was “God forgive me if I become old and out of touch like my parents‘ generation”. What the hell are The Who playing at - with the Ox and Moony both gone - belying everything that they stood for, stumbling around on tour, nearly (if not already) septuagenarians? When Daltrey cranks out “...but the kids are alright...” does he mean his grandchildren.....or their grandchildren?

But, against this railing backdrop of mine I too had my momentray lapse of reason. I was too young in the 1960’s to really get The Beach Boys, but in 1974, ten years after it’s release, I bought an LP copy of the seminal and exquisite ‘Pet Sounds’ following a “surfing’ holiday in the UK - I know, sounds bizarre but that’s for another tale. While I’m on the subject, let’s set the record straight here: ‘Pet Sounds’ pre-dated The Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’ by a year and carries no squirmy musical moments like ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’.

‘Pet Sounds’ had a profound effect on me. On that holiday, to quote the cornball words of Bobby Goldsboro from his 1973 hit ‘Summer the First Time’ ”...we sat on the sand and the boy took her hand, but I saw the sun rise as a man” (not for the squeamish, eh??!!). Returning back home from that holiday, to the room I shared with my brother at my parents’s house and my very pedestrian life, I could identify with the lyricism of the ever-awkward Brian Wilson “I keep lookin’ for a place to fit in where I can speak my mind”. I’d play ‘Pet Sounds’ over and over again, indelibly stamping it on my psyche, on my soul like a tattoo only known to me.

So what was I thinking some thirty years on - when a now, near-demented Brian Wilson is wheeled out to do a tour where he would bring ‘Pet Sounds’ to life - and I agree to go with friends who’d bought tickets? It was horrible horrible horrible horrible horrible on many different levels; I cannot and will not repeat the ugly facts here.

I think it’s only now that I can just about listen to ‘Pet Sounds’ and be catapulted back to that holiday rather than that dreadful concert.

Day #101 Tip: Believe in what you believe in
There was yet another pop psychology global-phenomenon-of-a-book that “topped the New York bestsellers list” in 2005, ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell. “Blink’ espouses “trusting your instincts, don’t think - blink” and the author offers this “Blink is all about those moments when we ‘know’ something without really knowing why, and how this ability is one of the most powerful we posess.” It kind of flys in the face of not pre-judging things or people, but there’s room for both and all in life.

Some moments, some characters, some lines of dialogue, some choices in my screenwriting, I know are just right, one or two of them may even contradict the rules of the road that I rely on to guide me, but sometimes you’ve just got to trust and back yourself.

When I turn a trick and write a scene or moment the way that someone else wants me to write it, a way that my gut is telling me is wrong for the script, then I’m selling us all short; doesn’t mean that I get all intransigent and obstreporous, but neither does it mean that I abdicate everything I think I know, ignoring that little voice inside of me that says “don’t do it”.....

.....the same little voice that said “don’t go and see Brian, this won’t turn out well, for either of you”.

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