As I sit here on a beautiful sunny morning in May 2020 in the north of England amidst a global lockdown, I, like every other questing soul, consider my position in the universe in these unprecedented days. I hear talk (I don't watch the mainstream news if I can help it - PURE LIES - although I glance through the papers for laughs) and it's all rather negative. Things Will Never Be The Same (good and bad - we will wait and see on that one). My industry, the Music Industry, has taken one of the heaviest blows - as we deal in entertainment. Entertainment is what people seek when they wish to escape, be challenged, made to think/not to think. And music is the best art form to achieve all of these - in my opinion. It also costs money, not to listen to at home - or walking around with those horrid earbuds in - alone or with family and friends - but to experience live - the only way most artists get paid anything worthwhile - and people are very worried about money - usually always - but especially now.
I've had all of my live work shifted to the end of the year, and if that happens - and many of us are not convinced it will - how many people will show up? The pandemic has scared people to Utter Paranoia and when I queue up outside a supermarket and see people in face masks - who appear to think even eye contact can transmit Covid-19 - I wonder how long it will take them to be confident/sociable enough to come to a show where people are packed into a small/medium-sized room - for mostly - these are the venues I perform at.
The other part of my job is making records. This becomes more problematic yet EASIER as the years go by. I went through a very difficult period not long ago whereby my income was simply not enough to maintain even the very modest life my mother Patricia (87) and I have. My mother has no savings, she pissed it all up against the wall the drunken bitch (I'm joking), I am her full-time, unpaid carer. (I'm not eligible for a carer's allowance as I cannot prove I am not in gainful employment for enough hours in the week to be compensated). I certainly have no savings as everything I've ever earned has gone on bricks and mortar (I have lived in my current abode for over thirty years and thanks to the usury system still owe a vast amount on my mortgage) and fuelling the music (and a few other things which anyone who has read my book will know - without me having to shame myself on here as well).
I never made a conscious decision not to have children or the be the Permanent Single Person, it's just what happened. I only care about music. Tragic isn't it? I've tried to branch out but it's clear I was put here to do One Thing. To be put here to One Thing and to then have to struggle and claw for every centimetre of safe ground is something else entirely. I have been extremely lucky in life and health but I've never been commercially successful enough in my work to be secure. If I know I can pay the bills for just six months in front of me - it is cause for celebration. Most musicians/artists live this way so this is not a sob story. I'm not unique! As I often say, for every musician with a mansion there are a thousand in debt.
Around the time it started looking as though I was going to lose my home, despair kicked in. Being a relatively young man still, I could handle the possibility of downsizing (it's a big house) but alas my darling mother could not. This is her home too and at her age you do not want to move into a much smaller space and say goodbye to your garden and the sunlight that fills your sitting room. It is my duty to look after her as she (and dad - Hi dad!) brought me into this world, has nobody else to care for her and her happiness is paramount to me - often at the expense of my own. We were saved from eviction thanks to Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) The Gift That Keeps On Giving - being used in a popular Netflix TV show 'Stranger Things' and an advert for a huge U.S. finance company (oh the irony). "Traitor!" They cried. "Shurrup" I parried.
About time! I thought "I fucking deserve it!" The pressure was dialled down - for how long nobody knows - but man, let me tell you dude, we cried tears of relief. It was a miracle. A MIRACLE!!!!!
So now as I chew upon my sixtieth year on Earth I find myself with no work and in the middle of my twentieth studio LP. The more I am told the majority people do not ask for new music or elaborate packaging, the more I want to share it. My last two albums Star Smile Strong (2017) and Our Future In Space (2018) are unquestionably my best work since the mid-nineties heyday, and despite the fact that I lost plenty of money on both - they were Completely Ignored by press and radio - as is all of my work since the eighties/early nineties - thus it is dutifully delivered to my devoted fanbase I LOVE YOU ALL!!!! and not one stop further - I am full of joy and excitement to deliver the third part of this purple patch in the form of a twenty track old-fashioned double album. I am writing songs with a renewed vigour and passion - I've no idea why as I'm a miserable get and things have never been bleaker for The Troubadour. But ... I BELIEVE. I STILL BELIEVE. I know these songs will be heard by more people than are listening now - one day. That day may well be when I'm not around to enjoy the love - but so be it. To be given a gift and not to use it is a sin. I am more aware than anyone else that I have this power and I'm going to fucking use it.
I mentioned that it is easier than ever for us to issue recorded music, the recording equipment and quality of sound now available is remarkable - for a mere fraction of the price it was in The Golden Age. If you can still write songs and sing and perform well - it's actually a NEW golden age (I wrote a song about that once). I believe we need Music more than ever. The world has changed beyond recognition but The Song Remains The Same. Our beautiful brothers and sisters in the music fraternity are dying by the minute. It's our duty to carry the fire ... untilllll the ....... EEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND.
"Hey Johnny what are you rebelling against?"
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