Chasing Fame or Cheating Fame?


Hello Good People who read this blog...

I am writing because I am about to work on some music projects and I do so reluctantly, due to the amount of work involved, but also because on a subconscious level I am troubled by concepts of “fame” and my relationship with it.

As a creative person, working on “creative projects” involves dealing with other people’s reaction to what I do,and if I ever needed to be successful enough to earn a living from music, a certain amount of compromise and chasing exposure would be required.

It seems that many young people I know are getting into acting, modelling, music, with “fame” as the eventual desired outcome and goal.  As a young person, I also daydreamed that from my music I might be accomplished enough to be famous and in my fantasy to have the respect,  power, and recognition that came with fame.

So I am writing this maybe to try to understand my relationship with fame. I don’t chase fame, I avoid it.

There have been many incidents in my life where it seemed like I was “cheating fame” in the same way people “cheat death”. Maybe I sound crazy but I think that the whole issue of fame and recognition by large numbers of people , is a worthy concept to examine, however clumsily I do this.

In our largely secular society, many seem to aspire to be famous when previously they might have wanted to go to heaven , or  might have wanted a good career and a respectable role within their social group, a happy marriage , a solid home.

It seems to me that chasing fame is a very ” conformist” thing to do, wanting to be accepted by the masses surely means having to “play the game” on some level, follow a passing fashion, please your media patrons. I feel deeply sorry for young people now who chase fame. I think this is a result of the media environment and social codes they grow up with, largely a modern phenomenon from the ever-growing forms of mass media, including my blog!

If you want to get to the truth it’s best to rely on real life experience  than theory, so sorry to bore you again with my life!

As a child I was lucky enough to grow up in Chelsea in the 1960s and 1970s surrounded by famous people. For instance,I remember seeing a Rolls Royce every day with the number plate “BOW 1”  with David or Angela Bowie and sometimes their son, being driven around.  A close relative of mine worked for Bowie and told me a few stories. What struck me the most, was that I was not allowed to know the address of where Bowie lived, he had to change his phone number at least once every six months and this number was also kept strictly secret. On the one hand you have this superstar parading around Chelsea in a Rolls Royce, and on the other you have someone desperately trying to get away from people,not the paparazzi but his fanatical fans.

I grew up in the age of Beatlemania, it was a new religion, there seemed to be a lot less famous people than now, their fame seemed greater and more enduring  because almost everything  in the sixties was groundbreaking.

An  exception to this sense of cultural revolution was the soap opera about a Midlands Motel called “Crossroads”. I think it was mostly acted and broadcast “live” which explains a lot.

I saw actors from Crossroads, my mother’s favourite TV programme, wandering about the King’s Road. I later found out that one of the scriptwriters  was staying in our guest house incognito, he would come and write there,  even his own family did not know where he was disappearing to.

In the supermarket I remember seeing my absolute heroine, Emma Peel, except of course it was the actress Diana Rigg an altogether different person. I so wanted to be “Emma Peel” when I grew up, witty and intelligent, free, and able to karate chop herself out of dangerous situations. As a child I assumed the actress was indeed that person, shopping in Sainsbury’s.

My concept of fame was pretty warped by these and many other events.As a young child, I found the idea of becoming famous exciting, like somehow my innate shyness and all my defects of character, all problems in life, would disappear just by being famous.It seemed entirely possible to become famous in London if you were in the right place, at the right time, doing something creative.

My parents hated the whole thing. My mother would complain that racing police cars had kept her up all night because the Rolling Stones had  another debauched party. My parents respected God, the upper classes,all authority figures, classical music and literature and aspired to be educated and posh. These new TV and music celebrities and the whole new culture with its shocking fashions seemed outrageous to them.

As an adult,I have had famous people around me , including my ex-partner who will read this, who like it or not, had a certain amount of fame, which was never intended.

As a musician “fame” is difficult for me, it is a barrier, it is not something to be aspired to. I aspire to use my creativity to heal my frame of mind, do the best I can, to be innovative, because I love being experimental at times, to express myself honestly, to create things from some compelling intuitive idea, derived from processing everything I hear or think about . I struggle to do anything creative which will eventually be exposed to others and must match certain technical standards, I am not naturally talented. I essentially create stuff for myself first and secondly to reach out to a few others and see if anyone is on my wavelength. However the idea of great success and fame is still there lurking in the background like a bad smell.

What would my life be like if  suddenly my phone was constantly ringing with people wanting to be my friend? What if I wanted to walk around London and be left alone?

This is a mainstream pop tune , but my intuition says it’s the right one for this post, plus I love the production on this track: Maybe Tomorrow by The Stereophonics (2003)

What if I were so successful that other people’s salaries depended on my producing  something that would sell to the greatest amount of people? What if  I got ill from the work schedule and stress? How much would I have to conform and compromise? What if I got bad publicity for something and people started to hate me? I don’t even like going on stage, I like to do a good gig but I don’t like to face a crowd of people.

So fame may be a result of hard work in the arts, of  being a perfectionist and successfully communicating something that needs to be expressed and that will contribute to the evolution of culture. But fame in itself is terrifying to me, even if you do enjoy it, once you are up there and dealing with the stresses, you either have to maintain it all, hopefully without resorting to overwhelming addictions, or choose to go back to obscurity ( if the media will allow it!).

The environment young people are growing up with now is so much crazier than mine.

Anyone can be famous,without even working at it too much, there are more opportunities to be famous than ever before and yet fame seems more transient than ever. What kind of warped morality are young people growing up with?

I don’t think it’s so bad to want to grow up and be a Beatle or Emma Peel, but what if you want to be one of the women on “4 Music” dancing round a pole?

I don’t like the mass media and I hate the music business, but in a recession even I may have to learn to deal with it, in the hope of  getting some kind of exposure to my music and getting paid for it. For me the whole process of writing, composing, lyric writing, recording and sound editing  is a very private and solitary occupation, occasionally involving others if they are on the same wavelength, but the land of mass media and fame is as alien to me as Planet Zog.

I have written so much about myself and my ego, but this was done with the purpose of opening  a dialogue about how fame personally affects us, how it affects those closest to those who  become famous, and how much it can control our choices in life, and the lives of generations to come.

Now I have thought a bit more about fame and my relationship with it , I realise that my true reason for doing music or anything creative has been for my own healing, and sometimes to bond with others, not for money or fame.

Love & Peace

Born2rant

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Too busy living to blog or watch TV, plus a teeny bit about Solfest 2010


Hello Good People who evidently still read this blog…

I keep trying to give up this blog for good but it’s up there in cyberspace without me, just like the millions of  photographs of teenagers on Facebook,  who may at some time, rue the day they allowed photos of, and  information about themselves, to be handed over to various companies and intelligence agencies who rule the net. My blog will outlive my initial enthusiasm for bi-weekly blogging ,and like many a dead rock star’s music, will probably outlive me.

I did go to Solfest this year , and I guess that by the number of hits on the day it ended, many will have to checked in to see if I have done a review like I have done the three previous years.

In a word  “no”, and I’m not really going to. It is still the greatest UK hippie festival that I have experienced this millennium,although a few less punters this year and slightly more zealous security. Well actually, I mean specifically one guy. A young security steward who wore large sunglasses day or night , wore a “security hat”, and obviously took his job extremely seriously. He questioned and scrutinised people at the gates of Solfest as if they were non-EU citizens of “Asian” origin trying to get through passport control at Heathrow. It was only one enthusiastic Nazi  in the whole organisation, but one too many, plus he never seemed to go off duty. Maybe he dreams of being head of all security services one day…in which case, don’t work at a hippie festival, run by hippies.

Backstage the air of hippiedom was also occasionally marred by the odd territorial argument over which loo one could use .One group of people in particular, got hysterical if other members of crew used “their” portaloo and shouted to me “don’t fill our loo up or we can’t use it”, which I found mildly insulting. There was also by the end of the weekend, a row over who could have access to my nearest water supply. Various people started to attach their own personal pipes,to the general standpipe going directly to their tent or caravan, leaving no access to water for the humble camper without extra water-pipe fixtures, and a trickle of water to all trying to get their direct private supply, due to low pressure. It was exemplary of the follies and injustices of  Capitalism, which I hoped to get away from completely during my stay at Solfest. I am hoping that the hippie spirit of sharing resources over and above stupid claims to exclusive access to basic amenities will return next year in the backstage area.

I have not written a review of Solfest, why ? Because I am not often here.

I’ve turned my back on blogging, Myspace, Facebook, hotmail, Googlemail, all mainstream TV news, most TV programmes, and most Radio programmes. I do still use youtube quite a lot, especially if I want to hear music from the other side of the world. I mainly watch TV if I have visitors who want to watch it or if I am just too tired or ill to think of anything else I can do. I read newspapers if I find them lying on the tube, and yet without the internet or the media intruding in my life as much, I am not suffering from any withdrawal symptoms. Quite the opposite, I actually talk to real people face-to-face,  go to real places, and don’t feel like my life is over because my hair is dull or I don’t have a car, or I don’t know what David deCameron said today, and I haven’t suffered any more patriotic military propaganda passing for news on a daily basis.

However I will entwine this rant against second hand communication and experiences with a bit of music from Solfest.

In spite of my previous negative comments, Solfest  is still friendly, creative, and the happiest weekend of the year for me. I always meet great people, have long rambling conversations, dance to loud music even though I feel I am too old to do so, laugh at the inventiveness of fancy dress costumes, discover new  music, see amazing landscapes, feel hopeful that there is a little bit of the year that is not cynical and under surveillance but is creative and flourishing. I love going up north, can’t cope with southern festivals ever since my first Solfest. Ironically it has now become a yearly gathering point for people I know from London, Brighton and South Wales.

Every ageing hippie seems to have their favourite yearly festival, the one where they will see their old friends again and maybe have a little smoke even if they gave up on New Year’s day 2000, laugh like teenagers again, and show their kids how to power generators by pedalling like crazy, how to make things out of wood, and basically introduce them to various degrees of alternative living.

Some of my favourite musicians at Solfest 2010.

Here is John Fairhurst playing sitar music on the guitar. I saw him on the main stage on Saturday, strumming hard and fast, blending slide guitar with flamenco and ragas, very impressive. Unfortunately there is no footage of him playing at Solfest, so here he is playing in 2008 at an album launch party.

John Fairhurst , a sublime creative guitarist. Here he  starts quietly and gradually builds up momentum, then later explodes into a raucous manifestation of  many guitar genres peeping out from one another to say a brief  hello. Are you following me? Good, if not, don’t read any more, have a cup of tea instead.

My favourite Drystone stage act at Solfest was Richard Barry and The Chaps from Manchester. Maybe I am biased, I met Richard at a residential songwriting workshop in 1999. His sense of humour, charm and excellent musicianship make him always worth catching. Yet again, there is no Solfest footage his performance. It was pouring down with rain when he started but he still gathered a crowd, and then the sun came out!

Richard Barry and The Chaps – Please Don’t Ration My Fags.

I spent a lot more time in the Dance Tent than I intended to, especially on Saturday night where I danced to Eat Static, now a solo act, but still doing “his”/ “their” thing, and this guy DJ Adsorb who did an interesting set. Well I enjoyed it but I am frankly not an expert in dance music at all!  I’m more of an acoustic guitar person myself. I just liked Adsorb’s set because there was plenty of variety.

Now maybe it’s because I have never taken the right drugs , or possibly because I haven’t taken the correct amount of drugs, or more likely because I don’t even know by what  acronyms the drugs I’d have to take, and ask for,  from someone  two decades or more younger than me, leads me to find the brain-shaking tones of “doofff-doofff-doofff-da-da-dooff-dooff-doofff etc…” looped for an hour, and somehow so loud that they obliterate any other sounds in the mix…..B.O.R.I.N.G..

However this Solfest having spent much time talking to DJs in the Chill-Out tent who had taken the correct drugs, with their abbreviated names, in the right amounts, to like every type of  Dance Music,  I was  re-assured  that what I was referring to, was music that was  “relentless”.

You can actually pretend to like it, then when in the company of those you truly trust, complain that in fact it was “relentless” possibly shaking your head to demonstrate just how relentless it was.

So now I can blend in with people who know and appreciate all types of dance music by saying  ” God, that was  relentless!” and show the punishment I endured with a little  downwards shake of the head.

But as you can tell I don’t pretend to be anyone but the anonymous person I am pretending to be.

I cannot find much footage of Solfest 2010 itself!

But here is some footage from the Dance tent, I don’t know which DJ this is but I am sure someone will tell me, it could very well be DJ Adsorb, this is then contrasted with the Dogs in Space ( Chill-Out) tent, where you will see a few seconds of an amazing trio driven by the jazz beats of the Van Der Graaf Generator drummer: Guy Evans, along with psychedelic guitarist, Nigel Mazlyn Jones and flautist/guitarist Jim Nield. I caught the end of their set and they created a sound as colourful and ambient as the décor and lightshow of the Dogs in Space tent itself, shame there are only a few seconds of this available to show. I thoroughly enjoyed their mesmerizing set of jazz drumming and psychedelia.

The Damned played but I didn’t go to see them, the youtube clips are pretty poor quality soundwise.

Another act who played twice in the Dogs in Space tent and performed in cafés all over the site were the excellent Marley Chingus, from Liverpool,played rich bebop jazz covers as well as their own compositions, their long-haired and bearded trumpet player was particularly outstanding although all of them are very highly skilled musicians. Again no footage of them at Solfest but here they are with one of their own compositions, no trumpet player but a great sax player instead.

Marley Chingus -Neolithic Chant.

Well I’m off now to make some tea and maybe listen to some music. In the meantime I asked a DJ who came to visit my place last night what his favourite Gong tune was. He told me this one because of the electronics in it, the synths were played  by Tim Blake. It’s a fantabulous track beginning with synths, echo and tabla and building up nicely into a freeform jazz jam with psychedelic lead guitar, slide “glissando” guitar, with other sounds and many instruments thrown in for good measure.

So, I’ll leave you with the brilliant and mind-awakening : Gong – A Sprinkling of Clouds (1974)


Love and Peace to all of you

and remember hippies are cool, superficial people are… well …superficial

Born2rant