I do not idealise the innocence of youth or view children as society’s one true hope. The way I see it, an absence of corruption only emphasises the tragic inevitability of corruption itself. Our timeless frailties – past and future – know no tense.
And though I am not particularly comfortable with children in a social context (I tend to get more serious rather than less when confronted by one) I really love it when they’re in the audience at one of my gigs. I know it sounds weird (and a bit creepy) to say I enjoy performing in front of kids but it’s just because I’ve come to feel that the biggest enemy of art is the ever-shifting notion of what is cool. Pre-teens don’t care what is cool. They only care about what holds their attention.
I’m so tired of cool. It’s such a barrier to everything. How much time and effort do we sacrifice to cool? Take a stroll around London’s Brick Lane or Manchester’s Northern Quarter – hark at the casualties of cool, so stoically absurd. This is supposed to be my audience. These are the ones that read the edgy blogs us musicians aspire to be noticed by, they attend the trendy bars that try to book us in exchange for “exposure” to their moronic clientele.
Children, like dogs, don’t bullshit. It makes them the most discerning gig audiences around. If my livelihood wasn’t almost entirely earned in venues that use my music to shift alcohol then I’d opt to play solely in front of family crowds, so bored am I with all the haircuts and post-irony. Cool people are so afraid of everything. Children are only afraid of important things like monsters and being alone. They don’t lose sleep over the fear of wearing a tonally mismatched neckerchief/chapeau/spatz ensemble.
But they might be afraid of that one day. Or something as equally and dismally preposterous. Why don’t we musicians try to do something about that rather than falling over each other to curry favour with idiotic scenesters who have no hope of any meaningful future?
Yes, the hipsters of today are doomed… but what about the hipsters of tomorrow?
First published in June 2012