I’ve been reading quite a few musicians’ memoirs recently. Music documentaries too. I’m not fussy about the genres or eras, I enjoyed the one about Ace Of Spades just as much as the doc about Trad Jazz in the 50s. Band politics tend to be the same regardless of fashion.
I’m not sure where this new, almost academic bent has emerged from. One could argue that a musician spending his downtime pouring over the in-fighting of past masters is distinctly unhealthy. But I say: forewarned is forearmed. Most bands suffer grizzly endings full of regrets and loose ends. I don’t want the band I’m in to go the same way and yet I am aware that it’s a distinct possibility. Essentially a band is a confusing hybrid of gang and marriage – the potential for disagreement and calamity is near limitless. Still, I have hope.
Morbidity aside, read any rock autobiography from the last century and you will find one single unifying factor, one simple point that unites these various partisan reminiscences. One great omission. One conspicuous absence.
Memories are crystal clear when it comes to itemizing the drug cocktails and tour bus breakdowns, famous cross-overs and favoured studio tech-specs, but no one ever seems to have a clue who is actually buying the records. “This one sold half a million units but this one only sold two hundred thousand and now the label is getting fidgety…”
Who makes up these great hoards (or herds)? What is this faceless consumer hive? Dear Narrator, why are you not curious?