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Blog: What Was In My MIND At 5.45AM

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I woke up early today - possibly because i drank some LAGER last night and it always makes me Kinda Restless, but also because my BRANE was full of THORTS. These came from a VARIETY of sources - seeing Hank Wangford last night, reading some new Chris TT Lyrics, my last couple of gigs, and also that FORUM thing i mentioned yesterday. But where to start?

WARNING: this goes on a bit.

Let's try with That Forum Thing, where someone said they "hate MJ Hibbett". It seems this is someone who REALLY doesn't like my songs, which is not a reaction i get very often. I'd LIKE to think this is because I AM SO VERY GRATE, but obviously it's really cos to actually GET to hear my stuff you usually have to be pretty keen on the General Idea of it in the FIRST place, you're not going to ACCIDENTALLY hear me on the Playlist on Radio ONE, or in an ADVERT, or supporting U2 or anything. People who hear a Me & The VLADS track for the first time, these days, will either go "HA! I like this!" or "Hmm, this might fit into a category of music that usually appeals to me, but is not my cup of tea. NEXT!" HOWEVER, as the old ROCK CAREER continues to very slowly progress we do TEETER slightly on the brink of actually getting heard by people who will be ANNOYED by it, and, like practicing doing Radio Interviews whilst in the BATH, it is i suppose something that i should be get ready for, and i guess I should try thinking "This person does not like my music, but that is FINE, it is not FOR everybody" rather than EITHER "But WHY?!? Am i worthless and awful? OH NO!" or "BAH! This person is a WAZZOCK and POLTROON, i must FITE them!"

I tell you what tho, it isn't easy, and REALLY makes me feel bad about times in the past when I've slagged off people that _I_ don't know. I was wandering about THIS the other day whilst reading some lyrics from Chris TT's new album, "9 Red Songs", and specifically Preaching To The Converted. There's a GRATE line about "Nobody's got any good red songs anymore. And Billy Bragg's gone fishing in his four by four" and I thought "YEAH!" and also "But poor old Billy Bragg, must we criticise him so?" My GUT reaction is "YES!" as i do know what he means - for me, Billy Bragg is OBVIOUSLY a MASSIVE influence, and i LOVE all his stuff right up to "William Bloke", after which it all goes a bit WOMAD and UPSETTING. It's this AMERICANA nonsense he got mixed up in - I have TRIED and TRIED, but the more i hear of it the more i think AMERICAN is just Country & Western music without the charm or humour, or indeed the Being American. Billy, i support your quest for new sounds, but could you try something else now please? Americana: i don't really like it.

For instance, last night i went to Home Cookin', a weekly folk/c&W club THING in Leytonstone. In Leytonstone! The first band on were LOVELY, doing Actual COUNTRY & WESTERN music, which tho not something i would choose to listen to a lot, is a form of music i think is A GENERAL FORCE FOR GOOD - it's not afraid to be openly emotional, it's not afraid to have JOKES in it or laugh at itself, and by HECK it has some good tunes in it. What's not to like? Personally i can have ENOUGH of it after a while, but the band were lovely, and the place was ACE. It was really sweet actually, the room was FESTOONED with decoration and felt NICE, but it was PACKED and so the organisers were dashing round trying to find seating for everyone and make sure things were comfy... it seemed like the sort of night you could just GO to and know you'd have a good time. The next lot that came on though were AMERICANA, and thus just a bit DULL for me. It was very INTENSE and MUSICIANLY, but seemed to lack the TUNES and the GOOD HUMOUR that makes C&W something i LIKE. As a result people started CHATTING between themselves, and the VIBE was LOST it a bit.

After that Hank Wangford came on - he was a lovely man, INDEED due to the HECTIC busy NESS of the room we'd ended up sat next to him for a bit, and he was MOST POLITE. Here was CHARISMA, here was CHARM and here was some more songs that... er... were lovely, but after four or five I was SATED. This was probably helped along by THE TEACHER'S LAUGH he was getting, and also the TEACHERS who kept doing it. Basically a huge crowd of people who MAY, charitably have been teachers (but from the way they were behaving were probably Social Workers - but let's not GO down that road) came and stood right in front of us, chatted LOUDLY to each other, tried to nick our seats, and were generally ANNOYING in a Swaying Self-Consciously With A Glass Of Red Wine To Make Sure Everyone Was Looking At Them Then Loudly Talking About Property Prices sort of way.

ANYWAY, they kept doing THE TEACHER'S LAUGH. EXAMPLE: one of Hank Wangford's songs that he does is called "You Already Put These Big Tears In My Eyes, Must You Throw Dirt in My Face". It's a good title, and it's a lovely tune that sticks in your head, and YES, it makes you smile when you first hear it. OK. This was listed on all the flyers and the webpage, so we KNEW he was going to be singing it, it was NOT coming as a surprise, so when he said "Now a tune called 'You Already Put These Big Tears In My Eyes, Must You Throw Dirt in My Face'!" most of us SMILED or chuckled slightly in an appreciative "Yes that is a good title" OR "oho! we know this one, it is good" sort of WAY. EXCEPT for the people doing THE TEACHER'S LAUGH who all went "AHAHAHAA! HA! HAHA! HA HA HA!" in JUSt the way that TEACHERS always used to do when you go to see SHAKESPEARE on a School Trip and they get to one of the "funny" bits that are no longer even REMOTELY funny, but that the TEACHER wishes to FLAG UP not only as a FUNNY BIT, but more importantly a bit that they GET, and think is FUNNY. Maybe it is also so English Teachers can spot each other in a crowded auditorium and then GET IT ON with each other later, but that ALSO is a route down which we will not go.

This was ENOUGH, but then the first line of the song was ALSO "You Already Put These Big Tears In My Eyes, Must You Throw Dirt in My Face"... and they all laughed AGANE!!! WHY!?!? You knew the title was coming, you already LAUGHED when he told you he was going to sing it, how can it possible be THAT hilarious again?!? It was a bit much for me, so we cleared off. It was a shame tho - The Lesson Of The Smiths and all that - as like I said, the place was LOVELY, it was a SMASHING night and the organisers did a GRATE job, but the great SPAN of my life has shown me that if you've had enough then it's better to go home than LURK. So we did, and i got to see NEXT week's episode of LOST on E4. HOOPLA!

HOWEVER, this returns me back to Mr TT and his song, in which he sings this EXCELLENT verse which had me NODDING MY HEAD VIGOROUSLY, and thus i quote it in full:
Poverty's bad war is bad racism's bad,
Well done, have a biscuit
Sing it out loud to a partisan crowd,
If everybody here agrees with me
Maybe I should go and sing to the enemies
But no, I don't want to risk it.

"Well done, have a biscuit" - FANTASTIC! He's right though - what IS the point of just singing songs to people who already agree with you and are DEFINITELY going to like you? And possibly do THE TEACHER'S LAUGH to prove it? I often feel this when I do some of my Political TYPE songs - there's no RISK in, for instance, singing about why Thatcherism was a bad thing to a room full of people in or around their 30's who have come out to an INDIE gig. Everybody in THAT room KNOWS it already, so why bother? INDEED, are you not just SHOWING OFF and going for the EASY WIN by doing so? Should you not try and CHALLENGE people?

It is something that BOTHERS me i must say, and it's why i actively LOVE the fact that my ROCK CAREER is still at the stage mentioned earlier, where MANY of the gigs I do ARE to people who've never heard of me, couldn't usually care less, and are NOT necessarily of precisely the same social grouping as me, and so CAN be won over with a STRAY THOUGHT. LOADS of bands I've known over the years have preferred to play ONLY to crowds who already LIKE them, so they can act like The Rock Star, but it's worth SUFFERING THE IGNOMINY of getting yr name spelled wrong, going on first when hardly anybody's there, and being mistaken for the doorman by everybody else coming in later if it means you get to play to some NEW people who AREN'T there with your full lyric sheet in their back pocket. That's not just for POLITICAL type songs either - to SHOW OFF for a moment, some of the BEST BITS in my gigs of the past year have been doing "The Lesson Of The Smiths" and seeing people suddenly GET INTERESTED and start GRINNING and NODDING along with the sentiment, ESPECIALLY at Possibly My Best Gig EVER in Sheffield ON TOUR last year, when some people actually CHEERED during the "Peace And Love is still a bloody good idea" BIT. Aaaah! That was ACE! AHEM... Sorry, yes, the JOY of the Live Performance for me is when you can get a LYRIC out at somebody and they find themselves AGREEING with something that until then they hadn't REALISED they agree with. THUS, i would say to Mr TT, don't worry chap, you do a whole LOAD of songs that REACH OUT to people, GRAB them by the innards and say "Here, let me ENCAPSULATE a whole CROWD of feelings for you and express them in a way that says not only are you not ALONE in feeling that way, but it is ALL RIGHT for you to do so. There there." I'm thinking particularly of 7 Hearts here, which is one of the most beautiful songs ever WRIT and is making me WELL up even now thinking about it...

We're going to see him next week, i hope he plays it!

So yes, doing gigs where hardly anybody knows you. Don't get me wrong though, I REALLY REALLY REALLY LIKE IT when we do gigs that AREN'T like that - when we play "Easily Impressed" and don't NEED to do the explanation at the start, MAN i am a Happy Hibbett on THOSE evenings, and it's lovely that things are moving in a direction where there usually ARE people who turn up knowing what they're getting, and i VERY VERY much appreciate it. INDEED Tim and I have ARGUED about this in the past, when he wants to do LOADS of new songs in the SET, and I think we should REPAY the people who've come on purpose by playing songs they actually KNOW. Mind you, he seems to think that these people would rather hear some songs they HADN'T heard before... It is a source of some debate among us!

It was brought home to me how this is, gradually, happening more often these days (NB people coming to see US, not me and Tim debating setlists, although that IS happening more often too) when we played in LEICESTER the other week. After the gig I was talking to Nigel PickledEgg, who i hadn't seen in YONKS, and who hadn't seen me do a gig for YEARS and YEARS. He was all Amazed and, bless him, CHUFFED to see there were people there SINGING ALONG and getting excited to hear "Hey Hey 16K", and seeing him see it for the first time made ME see it all again, and think "Actually, YES, that is a BLOODY BRILLIANT thing, and i am EXTRAORDINARILY GRATEFUL for it! ZANG!"

The funny thing was that it was also the first time I'd spoken to him in AGES, during which time Pickled Egg Records has gone from being Nigel In The Pub With His Slightly JAZZ Records to an INSTITUTION of QUALITY EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC and GROOVY SOUNDS, also a NAME that i hear dropped all the time, on radio, in print and in the WORLD. I always find this VERY exciting, and think "Hey! That's NIGEL that Stuart Maconie is LAUDING!". I told him about this, and it appeared to have much the same effect, and for a short time we both stood feeling HAPPY that we'd - CAREFUL! - FOLLOWED THE DREAM and were still having a whole HECK of fun doing so.

So what conclusion can we draw from these mighty THORTS, OH brave person who's got to the end? Probably that I shouldn't drink LAGER then stay up late drinking TEA watching next week's LOST on E4, that is certainly a good conclusion. Possibly also that the world is a big old scary place full of fully functioning OTHER human beings who not only think differently to you but also OPPOSITELY, and that just because someone PASSIONATELY believes in something you passionately DON'T, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to hate each OTHER. Also that you while it's good to CHASE THE NEW, that doesn't mean you shouldn't appreciate what you've GOT. Well done Mark, have a biscuit!

Sorry to go on so - back to Gentle Meandering later, but thanks for listening, and at least I didn't write a song about it!

posted 13/10/2005 by MJ Hibbett

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i don't understand - explain it again
posted 13/10/2005 by Francis

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