This is a portrait of a good friend, Dave, a musician from a young age, and a very talented one at that.
Like a lot of creative people this isn’t however how he makes his living! The world has undergone a sea change over the years he’s been toiling to gain recognition, and one that’s been rapidly increasing in both reach and speed.
There was a time when fame, or at least artistic recognition, came at the end of an undefined period of pub gigs, pieces published in obscure periodicals, small exhibitions, all played out in the little places of the world in support of bigger people.
Musician like Billy Bragg, even 2-Pac, all cut their teeth doing college shows and pub gigs as support acts for other more experienced craftsmen, who’d go on to mentor them, show them the ropes, and steer them on the right path.
Today the bedroom mix tape may no longer even cut it. Fame is both elusive and in a lot of respects no longer even something that’s easily definable.
There are so many now who claim to be “Facebook” or “Instagram” famous. In some cases those people even make a living out of what they do through a mix of product advertising, endorsements, and seemingly casual recommendation.
Whether or not this is actually in any way as rewarding as creating a piece of art is entirely up for debate, but one thing that can be said is that often the context is a lot more important that the content, and knowing when to say something has become a gateway, rather than knowing what to say, or understanding a fundamental aspect of the human condition.
It’s an obvious statement to make that we have all suddenly become the publishers of our own news outlets. We each trawl the net, consciously or not, and with the rest of the world seek out those titbits of information that others may not have yet seen, in order to add them to our timeline, our online presence.
Does it ever make us stand out from the crowd in a world, and at a time, when everything seems to be shrinking?
The quaint coffee shops so beloved of many sitcoms have all become chains, idealised versions of themselves, eradicating whatever made them originally unique. I’ve often found myself halfway around the country wondering why a development looks identical to one in London, or LIverpool, or Sidney?
I have no real problem with the people who make their money from a keen gauge of social trend, or even that they all seem to add their own comments to that mix, as though this is what anyone is actually interested in, or would read. They are by definition a product of an age of manufactured bands and brands, global in nature, and seemingly have no separation from real and virtual life. They are walking ads for themselves, they are a brand in their own right.
Is it the lack of any real journey that bothers me? I don’t know. Certainly it annoys me, and I can’t really say why. Perhaps it’s because I’m the previous generation? Perhaps it’s because the world went and changed and left me behind, or maybe it’s because we have genuinely discarded something good about our world?
Something that isn’t easily repaired or replaced!