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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #9

Posted: August 15th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted October 2003)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

I’m at a loss to what to write about this month.
I feel unusually un-fired up. In fact I feel tired and awkward.
So I’m going to go with it and write about what’s on my mind and see where it goes.

I remember once I was driving with two (female) friends and chatting and somehow the conversation got onto something loosely connected to ambitions. I remember this journey really well because I can use it to pinpoint the exact moment I changed my outlook on things, probably irreversibly. Actually there were two, more of which in a moment…

So, we’re driving and talking about ambitions and the usual thing is being discussed. You know, you’d like to make a great record if you play music or have success and recognition as an artist if you paint etc. I was listening by this point and not really saying much. Phrases like “I’d like to leave my mark on the world” or “I want something that outlives me” were being used in relation to artwork or records etc. It made me think. It made me think where this kind of view comes from. Are we really so obsessed with culture/media that we see the things we make artistically as the ultimate expression of ourselves or our purpose?

It’s true people use their abilities as a crutch. I know a lot of people more literate than me and more academically intelligent to me who use their intelligence as a defence or substitute for something lacking, whether they know what it is or not. Everyone does it. So we’re left with this thing where we constantly try and try to fulfil something that is impossible: to create something perfect within the realm of the world we work in. But do you think Brian Wilson feels good because he made Pet Sounds? Bullshit. I doubt his life is much different. I’m sure he’s proud of his work but I bet he still worries about the same things. Maybe money is less of a concern but that’s a shitty thing to worry about in the first place. Seems to me like an unobtainable goal designed to throw us off the scent.

And anyway, does this mean you have to be some kind of artist to really fulfil man’s purpose on earth? I dunno, I would say because of the opportunites afforded to the wealthy and the education they receive more easily that this attitude is effectively saying 99% of the population has no chance of ever doing anything worthwhile while alive. Perhaps this is where the divide between the famous and non-famous is born. Hmmm. Those who add to the world and those who merely dwell in it. Nice. It’s fact. TV is extraordinary. Music and the world of showbiz related to it is extraordinary. Cinema is extraordinary. That’s why we have so many magazines about these things. And it pushes and reinforces this idea that we (and by this I mean, me, you – those not extraordinary) are incapable of doing anything worthwhile and inspires these ridiculous statements like “I want to make a classic album, that’s my goal”.

Arse.

I’ll get back to the car story in a moment. First let me tell you about the other changing moment I had. Another friend of mine was bitching about his Mum. I do the same. It’s what Mums are there for. Your parents are essentially the same as you whether you like it or not. This guy was moaning that his folks just stay in all the time, that their lives are worthless because they’re culturally unaware. They watch TV and stay in. I suddenly thought “what the fuck?”. These two people reached a stage in their lives where they felt they could be selfless enough to have a kid. Even if it wasn’t quite so pre-determined they still saw it through. That’s (on average) 18 years of giving things up, not just money but time and personal space not to mention personal goals. These people aren’t worthless!

So back to the car. My answer was that I thought the thing you were put on earth to do was to have children. Shocker eh? Before I even knew it I’m Buju Banton. Seriously, I don’t mean the act of reproduction, I mean the idea of giving up everything for someone. And this extends not just to having children but to falling in love too. Old, young, gay, straight, whatever. You give up the lot. You reach a point where you feel you can let a part of you go for someone else.

It amazes me when people overlook the simple idea that you can do this and achieve 100 Pet Sounds or Sgt Peppers. Man, I sound like a religious nutter. I can assure you I’m not. I think most people realise these things but the times we live have somehow made it unfashionable to think about them. Look at music. Bands that sing about the basics are overlooked for stuff more superficial. Which is why Low will never get the deal Fischerspooner got. But fuck this, I’m sick of hearing nihilistic shallow nonsense. By this I mean 99% of what goes for underground music today. Fuck that!

The best thing, music wise, I have seen in a long, long while was from footage at T in the Park from a couple of years ago. Coldplay. Yeah! They’re playing Yellow and the crowd is singing along. It’s a pretty wonderful sight to be honest. The rain is pouring down. A band gaining so much attention so quickly could easily dismiss the festival season as a chore, especially when the weather’s bad, the sound sucks and they’ve played their “hit” 126 times in 3 months. But the singer guy from Coldplay is grinning from ear to ear. OK, I’m not naïve enough to think it wasn’t slightly chemically/ alcoholically induced but still, hear me out. He suddenly decides in true rock star fashion he wants to hug the crowd. When Jon Bon Jovi does this he goes accompanied by minders and it’s usually in a pre determined part of a song where he doesn’t have to sing, the band just vamp it up. He goes out to meet the crowd because he wants them to have a piece of him because he is so special and extraordinary that the plebs deserve a piece of his magic. So when the Coldplay guy runs out at full pelt, in the chorus section of their most popular song, live on TV and falls straight on his arse in the mud, wrecking his guitar in the process you might imagine a tantrum would be the only answer. No way, the guy just gets up and keeps trying to get to the crowd until finally he jumps headfirst into the front row. The reason? He wants a piece of them. THAT’s what we need more of. The music? I like some of Coldplay’s stuff but I wouldn’t buy it. Not my thing. But if anyone wants to spread a bit more love I’m on their side.

I play music. I play in 3 bands at the moment. In the last few months one of them has played twice. The other had ground to a halt and no longer really exists. The third has slimmed from 3 to just me. The reason? I have a girlfriend. Simple as that. I’m not being leaned on to stop playing. Far from it.

But I have an awful job. It destroys me. I used to play music because I felt it gave me the opportunity to leave my mark and I could pretend I just did the job to finance making music. Who am I kidding? It’s what happens to people my age. You play in bands and you tour and you have fun and then it becomes apparent that this isn’t a natural upward trajectory and you’re going to have to work. Like Econoline tell you, Music Is Stupid. It sends a lot of people seriously ill. Now I go to work and my time out of work is spent as much as possible with my girlfriend. Not because I am a sap (although that’s part of it) but because of something more shitty.

She’s Australian. BOOM! Her Visa runs out next June. OUCH! I cannot emphasise how bad this is. It puts a lot of things into perspective. Just as I start thinking about a purpose for living and reassessing what I think is important this girl walks into my life and completely validates my change in thinking. Then I have a time limit to this imposed on me that means everything is suddenly temporary. I’m so close to being able to do what I want and achieve these newly realised goals but it’s impossible.

She went to Spain for 4 days last week and I went fucking mental. It’s awful. There is an answer to this. I go to Australia with her and see if I like it. Seems to make sense as it is an English speaking country, hell we started it as a prison colony so really it’s England with sun. But with one crucial difference. Culturally Australia is nothing like England. Even the most obscure bands from the furthest reaches make it to the UK to play live but Australia? Too expensive.

What I am getting it is that I have made this decision, in theory at least, that I don’t care about stupid stuff like music and I want to do things that make me happy and now it’s being tested in the most full on horrible way you could imagine. I have a choice between living the way I do now or going to Australia with my girlfriend.

What am I going to do? I haven’t the slightest clue but at least it puts things like record label disputes into perspective so it’s not all bad.

Currently listening to:
Hitomi – John Fahey
Sweet Heart Fever – Scout Niblett
Dutch Harbor – Various Artists
New Coldplay single
Strokes LP – it’s on everywhere and I can’t ignore it any longer. Some of it’s great too.
Egon Ascari – Good Morning DMX
QOTSA – Songs For The Deaf
Econoline – Music Is Stupid

Currently reading:
Down The Highway (The Life of Bob Dylan) by Howard Sounes

Just bought:
An acoustic guitar from Louisville

Looking forward to:
Playing live on John Peel with Wolves Of Greece when we open for The Datsuns – a chart band! Fuck selling out, my Mum can finally hear my band play without leaving her house. That rules. Then as some kind of lovely coincidence it seems Reynolds might get chance to do the same thing on my birthday. Sometimes you have to think there is a God.



Chris Summerlin

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.

http://www.honeyisfunny.com

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