Friday, 25 September 2009

I have been to hell and back. And let me tell you, it was wonderful

(my favourite louise bourgeois)

I keep getting asked at the moment about why I make music; why I started to write songs. People want to know what oils the cogs or billows the cobwebs… It's odd the things which remind you why you do what you do.

So I've been thinking a lot today about forgiveness and the downside of so-called 'social networking sites'. How these sites mean that it's easier and easier for people from your past to pop their heads into your life again, uninvited. And this morning I heard from someone who contributed to making my life a living hell at school (but ironically seems to have no recollection at all of the years of misery they inflicted).

Of course, I'm not the only kid who ever got bullied in school. My Dad even suggested that I may not be the person I am today if it hadn't happened. Perhaps, but maybe I would have liked the chance to have found that out... But it's not just our trials that shape us. What is strangest to me is that something that impressed itself upon me for so many years could have had such little impact upon one of those inflicting it. I've not thought about it for a few years now but a two line email brings it all back fresh, like a newly ironed school shirt.

You only have to look at the events of yesterday in Finland, Columbine, the murder of Sophie Lancaster etc. to see that outsiderhood doesn't always lead to university degrees and keep-your-head-down attitudes. It's hard to be the tallest/gawkiest/smartest/oddest kid in the class. I spent three years on the inside of the in-crowd only to be ostracised to a year of not one person uttering a single word to me.

Too many of my friends have been kicked and stabbed with biro pens; thrown down stairs in metal boxes with a brick inside; hit full in the face with cricket bats, been called ugly and stupid (and believed it), suffered in silence; waited for the best revenge of a life better lived; an escape successfully orchestrated, a triumph delayed by ten years.

Perhaps these are the very foundations upon which songs are written and instruments are learned. You make shapes in the staves so as to keep from cutting holes in yourself.

Yet, I keep getting asked, as if it's not obvious, why I make music, why I started to write songs, who they're for, what I want to be… In one record company office the other day I found myself inarticulate and waving cliched signposts to Nirvana and teenage angst when perhaps I should have directed them to a playground fifty miles away….

The only thing I got right was the glitter.

So, Mr. Recordman: I write for catharsis, yes, but also for hope. I want to send satellites out to every thirteen year-old (girl) who might be dieing a slow death in Suburbia, nowheresville. Sending messages to all of those who can't help but think there must be something more to life than THIS? I want to get someone somewhere to read Anais Nin's "A Spy In The House of Love" and see themselves in Sabina and ditch their checkout job and move to Paris. I want to be scratched into the door of some boy's locker as a reminder of why he has to move to London in the next two years.

And I want to be the uplifting last thing you listen to as your fall asleep in the dark with your headphones on thinking of how the constellations are the same here as they are on the next planet. I want to make someone remember their first love so that they walk out on the half-life they are not living with the boyfriend they are not loving. I want to be the hope that there's a light at the end of the tunnel vision, the blusher for the shadow, the cake for the ache...

The only thing I can get right is the glitter.