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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Ruth Archer Music chat - enough is enough (57* d) RE: Music chat - enough is enough 14 Oct 10


Well, as we're playing this game, Pip, I'll elaborate: one of the things *I* really hate about Mudcat is that anyone with the temerity to have a career/profile/a critical mass of people who seem to think their work is okay can become the victim of the most appalling Tall Poppy Syndrome on these pages. Don't get me wrong: there are always kind and sensible people who realise that these individuals, by putting their music "out there", did not sign up for a catalogue of vicious abuse, prurient speculation about their personal lives, and other similar unseemliness which has happened in the past; and also an awareness that these very individuals might be reading this forum and be upset or hurt by some of the things that are said.

Conversely, there are others who have said repeatedly that, by having a public profile, those artists have made themselves fair game - that they should just grow a thicker skin and get over it. Paradoxically, this particular standpoint has been coupled with an almost slavishly devotional approach to the work of other Mudcatters - anyone in the "inner circle" who happens to sing in a session or play a song that they put up on Youtube, or gets involved in a small-scale recording project or gets a floor spot somewhere...anything done by amateurs, that doesn't get any ideas too far above its station, is seen as just the BEST thing EVER, and no one should DARE to post any comments that aren't gushing in their support and praise.

In my ever-so-humble opinion, this knocking down of anyone with the temerity to turn professional (keeping in mind all of the insecurity, stress and pressure that this entails for the average jobbing folk musician), while indulging in the big ol' Mudcat love-in over the usual suspects, is bizarre. Why is it such a leap to think that, apart from slightly higher-profile gigs and maybe a bit more talent (sorry, but there we are), these people are just like you? I know for a fact that certain musicians were hurt and bewildered by the unprovoked attacks on the Bellowhead thread. I also wonder what would happen if, god forbid, any of the Mudcat inner circle ever "made good": when would they be seen to have left their roots behind? When would popular be *too* popular? When would they become fair game?

In a venue where I used to work, our techies were very depricating and sneery about a lot of the musicians and bands we had in, pronouncing on their musical abilities at length and usually finding them wanting. Interestingly, these self-same techies had a band. It played, invited or not, at every single staff function. It was shit. And I say this as someone who sang with them for a while. Really - we were bloody awful. It was only the indulgence of our mates that kept the applause and cheers coming. To me, it never meant very much beyond a bit of a laugh, and I still recall with fondness my fabulously rock-star flounce when I quit the band mid-gig after a spat involving several cast members of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and a performance of "Love Shack" at a staff Christmas do one year. But my point is, our techies loved bitching about professional musicians because it somehow made them believe that we were all on the same level. They thought that, given the right breaks and enough ambition, it could have been them up on the big stage. Evidencing a lack of regard or respect seemed to level the playing field in some way, I guess.

I guess the big difference between that situation and what sometimes (note: *sometimes*) occurs on Mudcat is that our techies didn't think it might make them a big man to greet Ray Davies at the stage door by saying, "I think all your work since the Kinks has been complete bollocks - oh, and by the way, I shat in your tea." Of course, if they could have worn a little mask to hide their identity or spoken from behind a keyboard, maybe they would have been able to muster the necessary cojones.

I am not suggesting that professional musicians deserve *more* respect than the average amateur...but what about just recognising that they too are human, and that turning pro doesn't mean that all of one's insecurities and sensitivities have been excised?


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