Saturday, 23 June 2007

Fame, Infamy, Success, Obscurity, Life

I was a musician, or so I thought. I dont fully know how it happened, I guess the path found me and I took to it young. By the time I woke up, I was halfway along the precipice carrying a guitar plectrum, a bottle of whisky and looking for signs of a nearby coke dealer. That was the mark. You didnt even have to make music, you just had to act like you knew what being rock and roll was all about. I think I pulled that off well enough.

But where it all goes wrong, is the day it dawns on you that you really actually want to make it in the business. Then whatever feeble talent you were clinging to in life suddenly becomes all you have to work with. Then, being rock and roll matters a lot less than making it. At least it does when you are hungry, lonely and utterly dispossessed. This is the moment you become nothing less than a prostitute. You get on the game, you try to sell what you have, you start to go crazy. It isnt enough anymore to lie in the sun, carefree and happy, not a thought in the world, no money, no love, no home, no job. These things are no longer a freedom, but rather something you fear.

Sane men return to the fold at this point. They give up, call it all a 'phase they went through', marry the first girl they can find that will have them, squeeze out some pups and struggle in a 9 to 5 until death comes to save them from the dishonour of failure. Some even make it, buy houses in expensive locations, mingle with friends at hi-falutin parties, go home, eat well, watch TV, work hard, for all I know they even get some enjoyment out of life, they sure seem to be smiling in the brochures I see of perfect lives, of perfect people.

A real select few actually make it in the industry. You may see them on large posters, on videos, in music stores, in limousines, at parties, in the newspapers, on the stage, but these people are no longer artists, they are business men and women. You have to be if you wish to remain in the industry, remain a part of it.

I was 37 before I really came to accept that there was no such thing as 'making it.' The whole illusion was a sham, a lie, a fucking farce of grandiose proportion. I dont know the exact moment it hit me, but I know I was K.O'd when it did. I guess I staggered about the ring for a couple of years after that. Punch drunk and hearing echoes of promises of success, dreams of riches, fame, infamy. Pretty lies finding my ears and dragging my attention out of the numbness for a moment. Whenever I came to, invariably I was alone in a place I didnt recognise. I was in shock. Here I was on a journey to nowhere. The tough thing was, I had been born to do it, really there was nothing else I could do.

So I took to writing, journals mainly, diaries of my thoughts. It passed the time and made me feel like I was serving some kind of purpose on the planet. Then it started all over again. I started thinking I could make it as a writer. I dont know what got into me but I sent some stuff off to publishers, and excitedly awaited the return post. Sure enough it came but it was hardly surprising that it would prove to be a dead end. I should have known. I guess I was more deluded than I thought. Still just a naive kid at 40.

Death was a craggy faced hag with long dirty fingernails and a smell of fish about her. I knew this because I had seen her face over, and over again on the nights the whisky took me down or the cocaine badger gave me a hearty kicking. I could hear her wings beating about my head, cold shivers rattled my soul. I was close enough to know that it was over. I considered suicide, not in any normal way, just by maybe pushing it with any of the poisons one night, and seeing what lay over the edge. It wasnt far away, and it was easy to find. Any night. You just had to look for it and be willing to go there. Anyone could do it. But maybe that was too easy. Maybe the pain wasnt really painful enough, the loneliness wasnt quite lonely enough, the shit wasnt quite shitty enough. I didnt dare believe it was my own strength of spirit that stopped me, I know that would have been a lie; I was nothing more than a weak spirited artist, that is what made us artists after all.

So I stuck it out. Cleaned up a bit, retired from the rock and roll illusion I was making of myself. Dying as a nobody I could handle, being a pathetic caricature of myself, I couldnt. I did a load of bad things, pissed a load of people off, had a few tantrums about my life, and then left the city I had been looking for my pot of gold in the last 18 years.

I flew up high, high enough to feel the dust drop off my wings and the roar of the wind cleansing me as I soared into some kind of freedom. It felt good, real good, I let go of the whole damn charade. My mind cleared, I levelled off. I hung up there, solitary, wise, smiling, aware. I looked down and the world seemed like a crazy place, people looked like ants, the whole damn game was a load of bollocks, and I knew it. Even so, it was my world, it was the only one I knew, for some reason I belonged there.

I stayed up in that clean air for as long as I could hold it. Time was my enemy but the gods held her off just long enough for me to breathe. I breathed. God, how I breathed, and it felt fresh for the first time since I was a kid. But I knew stuff now, I was no innocent child. I could feel the pressure of fate, of destiny, of the call, and I knew it was time to go, and there was only one place to go. Back down into the soup, into life, into death, into the game. I shut my eyes, prayed, and closed my wings for the fall.

No comments: