Once, long ago, in the pre-netflix channels surfing days of cable I saw a bit of American Idol, the early try-out portion that’s about laughing at the deluded and talentless. I had this vision of one of these 22 year old toddlers going back to their supportive parents and yelling how could you let me do that then gunning them down with a tek 9. This is why I do not lie to my friends. This is why I’m not supportive. Because you’d be right to make me a gun-crime statistic for setting you up for a public humiliation rather than go a wee bit out of my comfort zone by telling you the truth about your suckage.
I have a perpetual hatred of people being nice to me. I know that sounds odd but it’s so condescending isn’t it? To think that it’s up to you to spare my feelings like I’m a child. Have you heard the phrase Early Success Is A Poor Teacher? I agree, if you never fail or worse people never let you know you’ve failed then you never get better, and I’d rather know if something sucks so I can actually get better rather than have to live in a delicate fantasy world propped up, supported if you will, by nice protective cowards.
It’s not easy or fun, I don’t want anyone to get that impression. There was time in my last band I wrote some lyrics and a vocal melody for part of a song just to be told that my voice wasn’t strong enough and the other guitarist would be singing the lines. Even though it crushed me I sucked it up for the greater good of the band. I didn’t want to be a selfish weak link. Which made it sweeter after a year of vocal lessons and practice when at my last solo show I killed it, knew I killed it, and step off stage to heaps of praise for my improvements vocally. Sometimes you have to have real lows to have real highs.
Now if you expand this out and think of the scene has a whole as one big band we’re not doing anyone any favours by telling everyone they’re equally good. Now I can hear Jim Martin saying that our scene is a family and being inclusive is better than being elitist. I also hear his soothing baritone when I read haiku but that’s another matter. And he’s right, we have to be on guard against elitism and never confuse what’s good with what’s simply popular.
This is why I envy hip hop as a scene. Rivalry and one-upism push everyone to be their best without really saying that one side doesn’t belong, just that this is a struggle not everyone can win. I often think of us broke struggling musicians as like Olympians. In that it’s good they can’t drug test us all. Kidding, I’m the odd one out that I believe in performance enhancing sobriety. Anyway. Like Olympians we struggle at thankless survival jobs and practice constantly for one or two lifetime chances to be remembered. And for every one remembered there’s thousands who went through all the exact same things and missed by seconds or inches or just got unlucky. And yet we couldn’t imagine any other way of living. And you see Olympians who are friends with other competitors in their field and aren’t just being supportive and setting them up for embarrassment.