The tour is going well, the shows have all been ace so far. Last night in Sheffield I had a heated discussion (shall we say) after the show with a punter, and it raised a couple of points that I feel the need to sound off about. I should point out that this isn’t me having a go at the guy in question, we parted on friendly terms, it’s just things I need to get out into the public sphere.
Two separate issues were raised. The first was about signing stuff, poaing for photographs with people after the show and so on. It was suggested that this was an uncool thing to do, fostering the cult of the “star” and all that kinda thing. This is the smaller point, but to restate: one of my least favourite things in the entire universe is the cultural assumption that the people that make music (or films or whatever) are removed from and above the people who consume their art. That’s total fucking bullshit; if you take off the rose-tinted specs, the word “rockstar” is synonymous with “arrogant prick”. It’s not something I ever want to be, and I do my best to be open, approachable and on a level at my shows. Of course, some people want me to sign some stuff, and if it makes them happy then who am I to say no? From past experience, refusing to do so on egalitarian grounds just makes people think you’re up youself, the exact opposite of the desired effect. So yes, I’ll sign stuff after shows if people ask me to, but in return I want people to think of me as a normal human being.
Anyways, at the end of the day that’s a pretty minor, esoteric gripe about my otherwise awesome job. There’s another issue I’m more bothered about, and that’s this: there seems to be a school of thought about me which involves people disliking me because I’m not what they want me to be. Basically, on the back of one song (“Thatcher”) a group of people decided in their minds to put me into a little box marked “protest singer” (or “politico” or whatever; more to the point, marked as the property of the left). I’ve never been in that narrow little fuckfest of a scene, I never wanted to be, and I never will be. I like the song “Thatcher Fucked The Kids”, but it’s a pretty small deal for me, a song about an issue that doesn’t bother me so much any more written a long time ago. But because these people are crying out for someone to come and confirm their opinions (in song) they latched onto me. Then when I produce an album that isn’t “Talking to the Taxman about Poetry Mk II” they get pissed off, and often vitriolicly so.
So let’s state this for the record. I’m not a protest singer. I’m not a politician. I’m a songwriter. But most of all, I’m answerable for my opinions and my lyrics and my thoughts and my actions only to myself. I’m sick of people getting pissed off with me for not being their little pet protest singer, ready to parrot idiotic platitudes about leftism at a moment’s notice. Fuck off.
And there it is. Rant over. Thankfully many many more people are into what I do for the right reasons, i.e. for my music. And to these people, I’m grateful.