viernes, 20 de julio de 2007

Something for the weekend

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Mi complejo de inferioridad se dibuja en las estanterías que conforman mi biblioteca. Hay que conocer datos, comprender temas y circunstancias, relacionar materias, aprender armonía, comprobar los clichés en los que uno se siente cómodo. A veces esto se traduce en puro fetichismo. Uno de los últimos libros que he comprado es “Ask”, el recopilatorio de entrevistas de Paul Morley para su etapa de gloria y terror en el NME. El libro lleva descatalogado décadas, pero esperé hasta encontrar una copia de segunda mano que cuadrara con mi presupuesto. Si mi objetivo realmente fuera el aprender y comprender, seguramente podría haber invertido ese dinero en comprar cuatro o cinco libros de segunda mano que hubieran sido mucho más útiles en un aspecto técnico y no en uno histórico-mitológico. A decir verdad, aún no he leído nada en él, salvo la entrevista a Duran Duran que tenía en otro libro. Es un libro que refleja en la forma y en la maquetación muchos de los temas tratados por Morley. Hay una serie de entrevistas, perfectamente legibles, adornadas con vistosas fotos de Antón Corbjin, en donde se juega con la entrevista, la reflexión, la anécdota, el comentario social y el puro placer de escribir. Pero hay muchas más cosas. En la portada hay un texto que hace de fondo. La introducción y el cierre del libro van completamente a su aire. Y por lo menos la mitad de las entrevistas anunciadas en la cubierta aparecen como una columna indescifrable acompañando cada página marcada entre dos gigantes comillas. Es decir: the chatter of pop.

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Mi regalo para cerrar la semana procede de esa dichosa columna donde para más inri, los párrafos de las distintas entrevistas se intercalan entre ellos. Así que disculpen si mis prisas logran que algún segmento del artículo se pierda al no relacionarlo.
En fin, estamos hablando de la famosa entrevista-demolición a Jerry Garcia de los Grateful Dead. Según reza el segundo sumario:
“The editor of New Musical Express at the time, Neil Spencer, estimated that this article caused 30.000 people to stop reading the paper. There were no thoughts as to where they had gone, but if it was true it is in one sense, along with such happenings as Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” and John Blake’s arrival at the Daily Mirror, the day that music died”.
Si aún se encuentran inquietos, la entrevista integra se puede encontrar en Rockbackpages pero ellos no se lo harán gratis como yo. And it goes a little like this:

“Sit down in that corner,” says the photographer, neutral as always in these situations. “Are you asking me or telling me?” murmurs the musician, innocuously. “Which corner?” He looks around the room, eyes twinkling with amusement.
“That corner! On the floor! Jesus, do you think I’ll ever be able to get up again?”
He sighs good naturedly and plonks on to the floor underneath a lamp, spreading his legs out.
“Hiyeeeaah,” he waves, mildly embarrassed. “This is for what paper? New Musical Express?”… Yeah, I remember. That’s pretty amazing. I don’t remember much. Memory is the first thing to go.” What a thing to go.
“Memory is the first thing to go,” chuckles Jerry Garcia, trying to win me over with un-sour flower power charm. I wasn’t having any of this. I ask him, cruelly, whether he could stop existing now and not mind too much. “Yeah, I think so,” he generously replies. “I’m not crazy about life. I wouldn’t want to live here for hundreds of years. There isn’t that much I’m interested in. There isn’t much that I think I’m going to see that I haven’t seen already.”
So what sort of things concern you?
“Music. Music and drugs.”
Does that limited concern manifest itself as the gross indulgence I see in Grateful Dead music?
“Weeeealll now, I don’t know what you see…”
I see gross indulgence. Perhaps because you’re only concerned with music and drugs. He laughs.
“No, actually, I’m concerned with a few other things. But in terms of what is actually compelling me to stay on this earth, there’s really not a whole lot there. I’m interested to see what’s all about. It seem as though an awful lot has happened in a very short time. More has happened in the last 150 years than happened in all the time before that … trillions of years. It seems we’re zipping up towards a moment. I don’t know what’s coming. But having come this far I’m determined to be around for the turn of the millennium. If nothing else. Just ‘cos it’s so close. Shit, it’s only twenty years away.”
He raises his eyes a little cheekily. So I would presume then that with this sort of attitude political force and the like is entirely abstract?
“Oh, I think all that shit is bullshit. I think the doings of people is really like small potato. Really! It’s like playground!”
What about the individual stress that pressurises people?
“Even that.”
What about murder?
“Well, murder may have some kharmic implications. I think the idea of death … I mean, everyone dies.”
Except The Grateful Dead, I drily interrupt.
“Well there it is!”
As if to say, what are you going to do about it.

Does it disappoint you that after sixteen years of The Grateful Dead an what you’ve struggled and soared through, people like me can be so disrespectful of you: think you are rusty, crusty, dusty and musty?
“No! I don’t give a damn … I would be afraid if everyone in this world liked us. The responsibility! I don’t want to be responsible for leading the march to wherever. Fuck that. It’s already been done and the world hates it. Humans hate it.”
Wasn’t that leading the march thing a ‘60s attitude?
“Fuck no. Hell! For me the whole combination of music and the psychedelic experience taught me to fear power. I mean fear it and hate it. In those times there were lunatics that were constantly trying to nail The Grateful Dead up as being the vanguard of some power trip. It was always the same thing. It was basically Hitler …
Have you heard of The Fire Engines? I ask, a little ambitiously.
Well, they played fifteen minute sets.
“Fifteen! Phew!”
As long as one of your songs. It’s an injection of sheer tonic; I think they must define boredom differently to you.
“Yup,” grins Garcia, tight lipped.
They’re violent, terse, joyous, an uplifting celebration, and the point is –what’s the point in being bored? All the things you say are in your music that I can’t get out. Garcia pours carefully articulated reason on to my glorious fury. “For me music is a full range of experience. In music there is room for space, there’s room for quietness, room for sorrow, room for anger, hate, passion, violence.”
I do agree. We still seem to be talking about different things though.
“It is not my desire to say there is only this or that. For me it’s a full range of experiences, and within that it includes a thing like boredom. Sometimes boredom is what is happening in life. That’s what it’s about sometimes. Sometimes the tension between boredom and discovery is like an interesting thing. The idea of noodling around aimlessly, and we’re notorious for that, but the hitting on some rich vein of something that we may not have got to any other way. I want it to be the full range. Fifteen minutes? We’ve been going sixteen years and we’re just beginning. We are just starting to get it together.”
I gasp. Garcia continues.
Garcia chuckles, shoves a leg underneath his body, and looks me in the eye with genial firmness. He’s continuing. “I don’t think of myself as an adult. An adult is someone who’s made up their mind. When I go through airports, the people who have their thing together, who are clean, well groomed, who have tailored clothes, who have their whole material thing together, these people are adults. They’ve made the decision to follow those routines. Brush their teeth regularly and all that. If you get to that stage all you get is rock solid boredom. With no surprises, when you’re pretty sure that your best years are behind you. I run into people who are 24, 25, who are in that bag and I feel tremendously intimidated by them. I feel they’re adults.”
American youths seem to be adult at 15 these days.
“It’ll pass. It’s just a phase. The next group of people will dislike that so intensely and so thoroughly that they’ll fight through.”
So if you’re not an adult, then what are you?
“Middling adolescence!” He laughs. I switch the tape recorder off. “Yeah, that’s far enough.”
A clump of dust falls from his hair.
The writer puts his tape recorder away. The musician eases himself out of his chair. The photographer gets his equipment ready. The musician shakes his head as he recalls bits of the interview. “Fifteen minutes sets,” he marvels. “If I had to pay 8₤ for a fifteen-minute set I’d trip out. The economics of it – I would feel so guilty. Even if I did a 45-minute show so packed with emotion and intensity and everything it needed to have, it still wouldn’t seem right. People have to work hard to get their little money. The best experience I’ve had as an audience member is when I see a musician get excited and inspired and go over time. Forget about time… forget about time and then you can think HEY! And an hour and a half has gone by and it seemed just like ten minutes. That’s the stuff!”
The photographer scans the room looking for likely places that the musician can pose. The musician stands looking a little lost near a window. The writer tells him that 45 minutes of his music seems to go on for two hours.
“Well, have a nice rest!”
The musician and the writer laugh, loudly. They’ll never see each other again.

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