I was thinking today about how complex simplicity can be and how certain styles of music don’t translate to the masses and how overall sport does. The thought was inspired by the West Ham – Liverpool game today (which they lost 3-2), witnessed by a large crowd at the London Stadium. I thought about how straightforward football is for the fan. Your team, your town, the skills, the drama, the range of emotions, the glory of winning and the tears of loss but in the end, it’s all pretty straightforward as a spectator. It’s rather more complex for the players, the organisation and everything around it that makes it conveniently get piped into your front room or fill up your local stadium and let you know about it. All those clever people are at work, including those brilliant athletes trying their best to simply get that ball in the other side’s net. But the rules aren’t hard to understand once you get past offside and split opinion on what’s a foul and what’s a handball. Cricket is more complicated and less popular with fewer countries playing the game, it still has a healthy following because it’s a sport. Tennis has an elitist tag although you need to be a top athlete to have a chance and although you might need the money to be able to dedicate yourself to it, train, practice, have a coach, once you are able to understand the eccentric scoring system, it’s pretty simple for everyone – get the ball inside the lines. So although some sports are more complicated than others (baseball and American football you have to learn what the rules are to watch a game) in the end it’s simple, hit the ball a long way or catch it, get the ball in the net or over the net or run faster than Henry in Lane 6.
With sport there’s trophies and somehow that makes more sense than trophies in music (although I have some). Because in my mind essentially, music isn’t a competition. There is no best in music, just different. But for the masses with music, there’s the rhythm, there’s the melody, the words, the musician skills and the pazazz for the public to get excited about. It’s not really surprising that AC/DC sell out massive stadiums because it’s quite easy to understand, in other words, it’s simple – to the listener. Angus is a great guitar player, not as easy as it looks but to the listener, it’s easy. Somehow the screaming lyrical nonsense is irrelevant and anything will do as long as it’s not about Jean-Paul Sartre’s third novel. Trends come into music, whereas the games in sport are basically the same as they always were, it’s just the shorts that change length. Classical music is complex and less popular than Judas Priest. Celine Dion has persuasive pipes but it’s easy on the middle of the road ear, and the masses suck it up. U2, Coldplay, Muse, Fleetwood Mac, you can see how they appeal and despite Eddie Van Halen’s fantastic skills the framework was easy to understand, the frontman, the beat, the lyrics, the melodies. Jazz is not easy, it has a smaller audience. My point, although there are popular complicated things, very popular things are often quite simple however complicated they are behind the scenes, difficult to enact, physically, practically, the skillset, but to experience as a spectator or a listener it’s simple, you just have to stand there and pay attention, although in fact, you don’t even have to do that.
Like the woman the other day on the telephone at the cinema, it’s quite disillusioning when at an intimate show, an audience member or two doesn’t understand that you are not AC/DC and talking all the way through isn’t really on. Surely one wants to be sensitive to the situation they are in? But it’s like people who stand too close to you, awareness of others isn’t the highest on everyone’s agenda. Can you imagine that people were allowed to sit at the next table to you in a nice restaurant and smoke? That shows how trends override good sense. I wonder what people will look at from 2021 and say, “Can you imagine that they did that then?” Perhaps the masses will be listening to jazz and demanding better lyrics from screamers or they’ll be new and more complicated or thoughtful but still physical sports like Sprint Tackling Chess.
As you can tell, I didn’t go out today (Olivia was out with Isa), I was contemplating crackpot theories in between playing some guitar, checking whether my thumbs are recovering, watching parts of the snooker final, the grid of the Mexican Grand Prix and bits of other football games (a bad week for managers). The week proper starts with a long list of responsibilities, following up the move from England, getting more quotes, figuring out the paperwork involved, investigating progress for premises in Portugal. Seshes, listening to sessioneers’ songs, writing; music, lyrics and whatever else the pen has to say, illustrated lyrics, autographing Arktik Lake photos, meetings, Logic Pro, French, Portuguese, swimming/gymming, finishing my damn book, writing a damn book. Rehearsing with Nicklas from Anekdoten for complicated spring gigs. Returning email messages, finding an accountant. This is why I try to do nothing on the weekend.