I started this blog in August last year (2012) and ever since then I’ve opened it up occasionally, stared at it, and then closed it, without writing a word. Recently I saw people had viewed it and I felt a little bit guilty: they’d bothered to find their way to my blog, only to find the cupboard was bare. I thought ‘something must be done’, so today I just started writing without knowing what I was going to write. That’s still the case. I can tell you I’m at home in Cornwall, that after the last few days of sunshine it’s now blowing a hoolie outside and raining, and that I was forced to light the woodburner as a consequence.
I can also tell you that I saw yet another singer/songwriter on breakfast tv this morning. They always seem to be young, female, attractive, with whispy voices, a record deal and a video to promote.
I get tired of singer/songwriters. There are far too many of them. They seem to be breeding like flies, encouraged by songwriting courses and college courses that are springing up everywhere. I confess that I have taken part in such courses but probably won’t anymore. Most likely because I won’t get invited, having turned up at the last one with a chiller box containing the ingredients for making my vodka cocktail* and for drinking said contents, but also because I’ve stopped believing in their validity. It’s true that many people seem to get a lot out of them, and that they provide a buzz by creating a high energy creative pot from which ideas pour forth and are nurtured, but I’ve also seen another side. Students come mainly from three groups: those who don’t have much of a clue but are willing to have a go, those who are reasonably competent but are unlikely to shake the world, and those who are extremely talented and blow me away with their abilities. The first group will most likely have a good time. The second group may do as well, and it may sharpen their writing, while the third group shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
The second group are the most worrying. Spurred on by encouragement, they can be prone to inflation and may end up believing they’re better than they are. One such example, having been on a course, started offering their own songwriting lessons. That troubled me.
I’m alway mindful of the story of Dylan Thomas, short of money, mostly drunk, yet still fighting against the dying of the light. On a lecture tour of America, to boost his income, on one occasion he staggered (drunk) onto the stage and said: “How many of you here want to be writers?” They all raised their hands. “Well why aren’t you at home writing?!” says he, and staggers off. The harsh reality is that people either have talent or they don’t, and silk purses, etc, etc. When it comes to politics I lean very much to the left but when it comes to creativity I’m afraid I tend to throw democracy out of the window. Once upon a time there were no songwriting courses, or degrees in music production, and yet great songs somehow got written and great records got made, just by people with talent and ability doing what they did best. It’s something worth pondering.
*This is my Vodka Cocktail. It might have already been invented and have a name, but the idea came to me like a song, and then I worked on it. One large glass. Several large ice cubes. Several large glugs of 40% abv Russian Vodka. Several large glugs of Campari. Topped up with fresh orange juice (oh alright: supermarket 100% orange juice, ‘with bits’).