End of year, time to take stock. Time to say goodbye to ideas that have done nothing more but collecting dust. Time to address the most annoying part of getting older; becoming a grumpy old man no one wants to listen to, someone who is increasingly living in the past and only deals in comparisons with the past.
So…I will once and for all stop toying with the idea of writing about The Strokes and Amy Winehouse. How (relative) greatness is sometimes only established on the basis of one single record, how a tragic death can boost one’s career, and how it is sometimes only the collective body of critics who are convinced of someone’s greatness.
I will leave Billy Eilish alone, not even write about her in the context of music critics all having the same opinion. I hope she turns out to be great. Right now, she’s just a teenager with above average talent.
I will not write about Beyoncé, not today, not tomorrow. The world attributes qualities to her that I don’t see. I guess I’m blind.
I will stop writing about the Internet and Social Media in particular are killing musical diversity and inventiveness. An ever decreasing attention span and the endless sharing of copies of copies of copies cannot be good for anyone, but if that is what we collectively want, who am I to judge?
I will continue to be an elitist. Nothing wrong with asserting some facts, ideas and opinions are worth more than others. Democratisation will ultimately kill democracy and there is no reality in which the Just Bieber’s music is not inferior to Bob Dylan’s, to give just one example.
But I will stop accusing. Some people have better taste than others, but there is no need to accuse those with bad taste of having a bad taste, and similarly there is no need to complain about the absence of quality in popular taste. Elitists are by definition (and virtue) a minority.
In 2020 I will shift from past to present, from feeling to observing and from writing in first person to writing in third person. I cannot change anyone’s mind, I don’t even desire to anymore and anyway…I live in my own echo chamber, the people who read what I write already agree with me, no hearts and minds I can change.
Quality is all I care about. Quality and the magic of life. In that sense I will finally prove how the death of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen in 2016 offset the stars to make Brexit, Donald Trump and climate catastrophe possible. It all makes sense. And…talking about sense, I will will also find a way to write about Jonathan Demme, the (recently deceased) movie director responsible for many great movies and ‘Stop Making Sense’, the greatest concert registration ever made.
‘We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams’ (a wonderful line of poetry I first encountered as an Aphex Twin song and only recently traced back to the poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy via Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory’)
We all have our own past, live our own present and create our own future. We are all music makers.