Wednesday, 5 December 2007

IN AN article in last weekend’s the Guardian Guide, readers are told in minute detail how Eric Clapton was an unoriginal composer. His so called, ‘best’ songs are stolen from the work of other artists, Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff, are two examples of which immediately spring to mind.

Now I’m not the biggest Clapton fan on the planet, in fact, Tears In Heaven is a song which gets me frantically grabbing nearby objects that I can use as padding, in a bid to stop the sugary sweet, over-the-top blub fest from reaching my ears. But enough is enough.

Like it or not Clapton is a Legend. Spelt with a capital L. The Yardbirds were the epitome of 60s cool, their signature sound spawning countless spin offs and tributes. They even appeared in the art-house film Blowup. His time with Cream inspired countless teenage boys to pick up a guitar in a bid to form a band. So what if those bands were never very good, that’s not Clapton’s fault. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

Ok, his poodle white boy perm of the late 60s may invite mocking laughs now, and some may say rightly so, but at the time was seen as the height of fashion; so what if this meant that Clapton copied Hendrix, I defy you to name someone who came up with an original idea.

What upset me most about the article was how it has become socially acceptable in Britain to slag off cultural icons in a bid to be down with the kids. This started when the cultural trendsetter that is Davina McCall, appeared on Room 101 claiming she wanted to incarcerate Frank Sinatra to its fiery depths. Her reason… apparently ‘he’s annoying to listen to’. So is she, but you don’t see me wanting to lock her up in the darkest dungeon and throw away the key, however much it would be of benefit to society at large. Sinatra had it his way; let me have mine.

Since then though celebrity singer slating has become a free-for-all। Now you can only like Take That in an ‘ironic’ way, whilst NME snigger derisively at anyone musically ignorant enough going to The Spice Girls concert at the O2 arena early next year.

The only bands you can admit to liking are the obscure ones no one has ever heard of। ‘They only have a limited, white vinyl release of 150 copies and they hang out in a crack den.’ Oh wow they must be good. Remind me to listen to them then, especially if Kate Moss has snogged one of them. In our image and celebrity obsessed culture, Paul McCartney is becoming better known for his messy divorce to Heather Mills than his time in The Beatles whilst Ozzy Osborne’s ‘the bloke from that TV show.’

Groups listened to and worshipped by millions of fans at the height of their fame, twenty, thirty, forty years ago are now being shunned by spotty 15 year olds who, if they spent half an hour on Google would come to realise that any current musical darlings like Babyshambles, The Kills or even the electronic, neon buzzings of CSS, all pay musical acknowledgements to their muse। Clapton.

My point is this: leave them alone। So what if Sting annoys the hell out of you? No need to broadcast your apparent ‘good taste’ to the world in the form of a snotty, self righteous article about how he is an affront to musical decency. Just turn off the radio and walk away. Or, if he annoys you that much, take it up with him.

Listening to music is like Einstein’s Law of Relativity. For every Genesis fan there is a hater, every jazz enthusiast there is one who thinks that the whole genre is musical masturbation and an excuse to sport black polo-necks. Music is special to so many people for the simple fact it is a purely individual listening experience. This may sound like jumped up marketing speak, but it is also true. The break in a voice or the feedback of the monitor may get my pulse racing, whilst you simply race for the exit, but whatever your experience, there is no need for the petty bitching. Just sit down, shut up and count your blessings.

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