I gather from the various mentions of 1966 this morning that yesterday was a good day to be an England football fan but, again – again – it was a bad day to be a musician. Nothing specifically happened to change the fundamentals of the life and the lifestyle, but once more there were confirmations that in our present version of the sceptered isle it is viewed as the poorest of cousins.
Firstly, as if further proof were needed, it has become abundantly clear that forty thousand people singing Football’s Coming Home at the top of their voices is absolutely fine while a group of thirty one trying to run through Sing Joyfully is still against the guidelines. You cannot be in half a pandemic, so either we are in one or not? Are we being careful about spreading the virus to prevent another mutation or are we past caring? In this post-Cummings post-Hancock world are we in choirs simply mugs for still taking any notice at all?
What made me even more angry was David Frost’s flippant comment about Elton John’s voicing of the concerns of the music industry about the limitations and costs of our work in the EU, an issue which was overlooked/totally ignored/forgotten about in the headlong rush to Get Brexit Done (Newsflash: It’s still not done). Applications and visas for tours have costs running regularly into hundreds of pounds, making one of our most powerful exports more or less unexportable in its current form, yet Frosts’s considered response was that he couldn’t help but notice that Elton John had achieved chart success before we had joined the EU or EEC or whatever it was then.
I have no doubt that this was meant to be simultaneously a witty and viciously accurate putdown, designed to make its utterer look as though he had pinpointed the fatal flaw in an argument, but it merely came across as the rather more polite version of a simple two word phrase which instead made its utterer look like…well, as if they are not likely to get on top of or even consider the problem any time soon. Elton was successful in the early seventies, ergo everything is fine and we (and he) should all shut up. It is not as if the music industry contributes a vast amount to the economy or anything.
Anyway, I spent yesterday evening in rehearsal with Clyve and the band, and we had percussionist Tony back in the fold, the first time I have seen him for sixteen months. He did not play but simply sat by the mixing desk, fiddling with the balances and listening. It had been so long since he had been able to be in a physical space with any music at all that he just wanted to sit and listen and take it all in. We cling on to what we can.