Isn’t it interesting and so unsurprising that despite Laura Marling winning Best Female Singer in the Brit awards and Mumford & Sons winning Best Album, there has been virtually no mention of them on any of the popular radio stations? This is a very anecdotal comment based on my usual amount of listening to the radio as I drive along. Indeed in the day after the Brit awards, radio presenters sounded bemused and embarrassed when they mentioned these winners – if they mentioned them at all.
We made the mistake of going to see Mumford & Sons at the Hammersmith Apollo last year – it was a weird and wonderful cultural experience. I have never seen so many mobile phones flashing on and off during what could have been a great concert, except there were people walking back and forth spoiling the distant view throughout the performance swilling beer, and the floor and seats were sticky with years of spilled beer. I had to peel myself off the seat when it came time to leave. Every one of the thousands was a teenager (even the older ones) and there was huge excitement in the air. Surely this counts as cool – but not mainstream radio acceptable.
One presenter sounded sheepish and embarrassed when he talked about Mumford and Sons and said you’d like their album if you enjoyed a lot of guitar-thrumming rousing music which he did. His co-presenter was clearly bored and baffled.
What does this say about media coverage in our world? Nothing surprising to repeat myself – to generalise hugely, they report and endorse what’s the norm, within the narrow bands of convention, the fodder that a lot of loud, uncreative, unimaginative people prefer. The real talents continue more or less unobtrusively to produce quality stuff, and people with little between their ears (listening equipment and brains) follow the media presenters like sheep.
I go to my local leisure centre and hear about the cost of UGG boots and exotic holidays, this stuff is in the air all around me and I feel protected by an invisible yogic bubble. I think my thoughts, I try not to wince when someone invades my bubble by saying something crass. This is what everyone thinks you should talk and smile and laugh about, and believe. Has society always had been so facile? Am I just getting old? Yes and yes again probably. I think I am living in the shadow of our times. Or is this my own shadow?
I’ve been listening to Laura Marling a lot recently, partly in a spirit of quiet rebellion but mostly because I like her music. If you don’t know her songs, listen to this one and even if you don’t like the music, the words are good and stick around for the interview that follows.
I asked some of you readers a question recently in the middle of an extended dialogue – who do you admire? In watching this interview clip, I thought suddenly, I admire Laura Marling. She is who she is. I find her unaffected, unpretentious and wise beyond her years. I feel refreshed.
Her favourite novelist is (I think) Jane Austen and she grew up listening to Joni Mitchell. Many of the lyrics of her songs are poetic and intriguing. She has poise, scepticism and cool disdain for media rubbish. This comment won me over:
“There is an elegance in the sound of a fiddle and a banjo and a guitar, a whole tone shaped by history and the physical way they are played. And, if I might juxtapose that with the internet, there’s nothing, in my opinion, that’s elegant or romantic about Twitter.”
I really really deeply hope she doesn’t get polluted by the perils of a performer’s life, and she keeps being herself.
Thinking about all this has made me conscious of the perils of the aging process too (as well as the internet!), and also reminded me that being around and working with youthful people is a huge boost to energy and hope.