Old And Grumpy

I have to admit I wondered long and hard about whether to run Rupert's piece about music writing. I kept thinking about how I'd decided not to run an article by William Crain that was about similar issues on the grounds that he was down on one of my personal writing heroes, and that in hindsight maybe I was wrong. Or maybe I wasn't. I still can't decide, but I know I'm sad that William hasn't written anything since. Running Rupert's piece then wasn't done because I didn't want to hurt his feelings (he's old and grumpy enough already, I doubt it would be possible to make him more so), but rather because maybe I just had the time to start writing a response. Blame school holidays.

That response of course is that Rupert is wrong. About a great many things. But maybe that's neither here nor there, because he's also right about some things too. He's partly right about the Wire of course. I used to read the Wire every month, but then I woke up and realised I was making myself old before my time. Or even older before my time, at the very least. I realised that in actual fact I really didn't give a fuck about any of the music they were wittering on about; that I could feel my passion for music withering with every miserable word I tried to read. So I stopped. It was a great relief. The inestimable Robin Tomens told me recently that he had also stopped reading it recently, and felt a similar weight off his shoulders. No need to try and feign an interest for academia, or for plain old boring rubbish. No siree.

So Rupert is partly right about the Wire. What else is he right about? Maybe about Straight No Chaser. I wouldn't really know for sure though because I wouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole. I did once, several years ago when I was also reading the Wire, back when I lost my way in the world. It was crap. I couldn't read it. It made me feel like a provincial moron, although I think it looked quite pretty. It's always possible that my eyes were deceiving me, however.

He's certainly all wrong about Careless Talk Costs Lives. He's wrong mainly because he fails to see the distinction between the idea of confusing attitude with music and the idea that attitude is an intrinsic part of the music, or at the very least an essential part of the whole experience. It's that jigsaw puzzle thing again; music, art, fashion, attitood, 'rebellion', whatever. All coalescing together to create this magical moment that I call Pop and that you can call whatever the hell you like. You can't extract one from the other, no matter how hard you try. What the writers in Careless Talk seem to me to have been doing is creating a personal space, a space where the outsiders can go and hang out and not feel ignored by the cultural world that's out there in the mainstream (and it seems to me that the river of the mainstream is so boringly wide these days, it's really rather depressing - but again, like Rupert, perhaps this is me getting older and grumpier). That's how I respond to it anyway. It's not a magazine that panders to any kind of trends except it's own, and there's the key right there: the right of the individual to create their own popscene in their head and in their heart. Careless Talk doesn't pander to anyone's whim's except maybe ET and Steve Gullick, and why should they? They're the one's who ponied up the cash, the ones who've invested their lives in the magazine for two years, after all. It's their vision of the way Pop ought to be (they'd probably rather call it Rock perhaps, but that's their prerogative), and you either get it or you don't. And Rupert simply doesn't. Not that it will concern him in the slightest of course. Because he's old and grumpy.

© 2003Alistair Fitchett