Who Will Remember Me, When I’m Gone?

Bye bye!

Well, not me obviously, because the answer to that is no-one.  But Mrs. Toad and I were purchasing a little wine on our way home from the pub tonight and instead of going into some sort of warehouse off-license we ventured into the Edinburgh Wine Shop, which is small, friendly and, I suppose, slightly dorky.  It’s the sort of place where the staff know about wine, where they sell lots of real ale and no fucking Fosters whatsoever and where, generally, they play classical music.

Classical music has always kind of baffled me, not out of general dislike or anything, more out of pure ignorance.  I don’t know it, understand it, or anything.  Nor could I hope to intelligently critique it.  However, I wonder sometimes about what causes stuff to stick in the memory, or to stand the test of time.  Great classical musicians, once they achieved fame, found their music performed to royal courts; to the largest audiences available at the time.  A bit like Britney Spears.

So was Mozart really the best available to his time, or was he just Madonna – some pushy, stringy old lady whose thirst for celebrity and knack for manipulating the press far outweighs any measurement of talent.  I don’t, as I’ve said, have the knowledge to really answer that question, but the people who read this blog are all fans of alternative music.  Not alternative in the sense of being NME readers rather than MTV fans, but in the sense of genuinely loving really alternative music.

Even fucking Celine Dion has performed to royal audiences.  Britney Spears, Take That, Madge, all these people have achieved something akin to the twenty-first century equivalents of patronage – the barometer for the best and best-remembered classical composers.  So, without wishing to enter into an argument about which classical composers truly deserve to be remembered at the expense of which others, what have we actually lost?

Where are the Nick Caves of that era, compared to the Coldplays?  Do we really need to remember Eric Clapton?  I mean, his politics are fucking detestable, but was he good enough to deserve immortalisation?  And even if you take the attitude that might means right – that being that popular is justification enough in itself – then what of the bands who would be the equivalent of Jeffrey Lewis.  Or the Wave Pictures.  Or even Wilco.  How long will these guys live in human memory without that massive groundswell of popular approval which ends up sanctifying an artist for all time.  And what of the likes of Daniel Johnston, for example, who is barely known in his own era and might so easily disappear within a couple of decades, once he passes on, because apparently All fucking Saints were invited to perform at the fucking Royal fucking Variety Show and he was not.

Pearl Jam – Jeremy (Yeah yeah, Nirvana, yadda yadda…)
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/PearlJam-Jeremy.mp3]

Giant Sand – Flying Around the Sun at Remarkable Speed
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/GiantSand-FlyingAroundtheSunatRemarkableSpeed.mp3]

Eef Barzelay – Ballad of Bitter Honey
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/EefBarzelay-BalladofBitterHoney.mp3]

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