The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

First I Was Nice To Morrissey, Now I’m Being Nice To Johnny Bloody Marr …
July 4, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Maybe it’s because Northern has made the odd nice comment about Queen or maybe it’s because Morrissey made me realise my teenage years of angst were utterly pointless, but I seem to have suddenly become quite smitten with all things ‘The Smiths’ as of late.

The latest episode happened when I was reading a newspaper and came across this quote by good – but not quite as good as many claim – Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr:

Now I am not being nice because the twangler on ‘hits’ like ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ lives in Portland and has been known to play with some W+K’ers, it’s because I absolutely love the last line of his quote …

“… it’s about being great at something purely for the sake of being great at it”.

In these days where there seems to be a preoccupation with achieving fame, the sheer joy of being good at something seems to have been relegated to a bygone age.

Of course I know that’s not really the case, but I do feel there are a lot of people who believe ‘fame’ – regardless how they get it – will bestow the lifestyle and adulation they seek [or think they deserve] rather than working bloody hard to be good at something that may or may not give them rewards as a byproduct of their skill and effort.

But even that definition strays too far from the point Mr Marr is making.

Being good at something, just because it feels good to be good at something seems to becoming more and more of an alien attitude.

I’m guilty of it.

When I learnt the guitar, I did it because I wanted to be a rockstar.

Money … fame … women.

Sure, I also wanted to write songs and play them with my bandmates, but the ‘benefits’ of stardom were definitely a major influence in my decision to pick up the 6 string.

I used to look at old guys who were playing in bands [ie: people who are my current age] as a bit pathetic.

I used to think they were hanging on to a dream they’d never, ever, ever achieve and it was all a bit sad.

But now I’m at their age, I realise it’s no longer about that, it’s about pure enjoyment.

That regardless of what might – or probably might not – happen, the joy of doing something you love, like and are quite good at, is fulfilling enough.

Sure, there are better guitarists out there than me.

Guitarists who will achieve success, money and fame … but that’s OK, because just being able to play to a good standard is OK with me.

It’s a demonstration that I committed myself to something.

Didn’t take the easy option.

Didn’t give up.

It’s the fact I can play the guitar that makes me happy.

Of course it’s nice if others recognise that, but that isn’t important.

Neither is the case that a long time ago, I played guitar for a few semi-famous people.

The fact is, one of the greatest gifts is that I found something that gave me – and gives me – pleasure through a constant feeling of challenge and achievement and that is not to be underestimated.

Throughout my life I have met people who have planned their life so well.

They knew their next step … they knew the skills they needed to acquire to get where they wanted to go … they worked everything out in excruciating detail.

I used to sort-of envy these people.

I used to wonder what was wrong with me because I sort of bumbled along, choosing things that interested me rather than necessarily rewarded me.

But now I realise what I did was OK, because it was less about efficiency of progress and more about feeling emotionally satisfied.

I’m not saying what I did/do was better than what others did/do, I’m just saying it is an OK approach as well.

And that’s why I love that Johnny Marr quote so much, because in an industry that seems to celebrate those people who have gained the highest job title or have been put on the latest hype pedestal, the real stars are the folk who simply get on with what they do.

Who take pride in a job well done because that’s the standards they operate by.

Not for progress or cash incentives, but because they believe that’s what’s right.

They view it as a testimony to their hard work and experience.

That being good at something is – to a large extent – good enough.

There’s loads of these people, walking down the corridors.

Sure, some sit at the top tables too … but most are people who let other people shine through their abilities at doing something well.

I am not one of these people.

I want to be.

I try to be.

But I’m not.

I write a blog and court attention.

I try to do it for the right reasons – I genuinely do – but, let’s be honest, I also do it because for some mad fucking reason, it’s also become quite good for my career.

To be honest, it’s pretty sad and pathetic.

And that’s why I am so glad I play the guitar.

Sure, I might have started it for the wrong reasons – or some wrong reasons – but now I do it because I just enjoy the feeling of being quite good at it.

As much as this world tries to push us to only focus on the things that will help us progress, being good at something purely for the sake of being good at something is something worthy of praise and applause so next time someone tells you that what you want to do has no real commercial value to others, tell them they’re missing the point, because it’s not about the commercial value to others, it’s about the emotional value to yourself.

44 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Not only have I written another positive post about a member of The Smiths, I’m first to comment on it. What the hell is going on???

Comment by Rob

No you’ve written another post about yourself.

Comment by John

Actually that’s a good point. What’s worse, I’ve written it based on The Smith’s guitarist which might be the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

Comment by Rob

Gold medal to Mr D.

Comment by DH

good fucking work doddsy.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh I know, I’m at the airport at an ungodly hour to go to a meeting while trying to maintain calm because I’m pissed that some people don’t have the standards I think they should have. But then, if everyone had the standards they should have, W+K wouldn’t of hired me so maybe I should just suck it up. Shame – for them – I’m an only child so don’t know how to accept differences in a magnanimous way.

Getting on board … ta-ra.

Comment by Rob

And just for the record, it’s work, not another holiday.

Comment by Rob

Sure it is Rob. Sure it is.

Comment by DH

youre such a jammy fuck campbell that if your plane is hijacked theyll probably want to be taken to the fucking bahamas.

Comment by andy@cynic

Shockingly I have just landed in Singapore where it’s raining and, by Singapore standards, cold (28) so I now have undeniable proof the lucky fairy doesn’t always pay me a visit.

Talking of unlucky – do you remember Sanjay from WPP?

He just emailed to tell me he is stuck in Egypt because the ‘romantic holiday’ his wife had planned got destroyed by a political coup. I shouldn’t laugh but that is kind of awesome too.

Comment by Rob

If you’re trying to court attention, it’s not working very well. Unless you actually like the international birkenstock fan club following your every step.

Comment by DH

To be fair to you Rob, your blogging, conferencing and courting acts as a counter balance to your fashion, ranting and music choices so it’s less “good for your career” and more “just keeping it stable”.

Comment by Bazza

so campbell thinks playing motley crue and queen shit means he can play the guitar. hahahahahahahahahahaha. twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

The thing I have always admired about you Robert is your ambition has never been about getting to the top, rather discovering where your beliefs and interests can take you.

You do not get to your position without a rich history of being very good at what you do and so please, no more doing yourself a disservice.

Comment by Lee Hill

There’s always an exception to the rule.

Comment by DH

Five words: Rick Astley. Terrence Trent Darby.

Comment by Billy Whizz

2 more. Billy Ocean.

Comment by Bazza

4 more. who gives a fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

“In an industry that seems to celebrate those people who have gained the highest job title or have been put on the latest hype pedestal, the real stars are the folk who simply get on with what they do. Who take pride in a job well done because that’s the standards they operate by. Not for progress or cash incentives, but because they believe that’s what’s right.They view it as a testimony to their hard work and experience. That being good at something is – to a large extent – good enough. There’s loads of these people, walking down the corridors.”

Brilliant Rob.

Comment by Pete

“being great at something purely for the sake of being great at it” is a lovely sentiment that breeds a lot of great bedroom guitarists. Making yourself great at something because you’ve actually got something to say, then using that greatness as platform to say it, now that’s testimony to hard work and experience. If technical ability in isolation really was enough to be emotionally satisfied, we’d all just stay home painting by numbers and building ships in bottles.

Comment by Lewis Rosa

Obviously this post pleases me greatly. Incidentally, the Marr album is more than OK, not that you would care

Comment by northern

I also support the sentiment of doing things well just because.
I’ve even done a cringeworthy speech on it…

Comment by northern

Parasite. (I’m in a ‘one word comment equity phase)

Comment by Rob

Blimey, that’s a little strong, even for you

Comment by northern

Actually you’re right. Sorry. I meant it in jest but the frustrations of being 24 hours from a rather important meeting and waiting for some people to get their shit together has made me a little tetchy.

That and having to be up at 4am to catch a 7am flight. So basically I’m a dick and I’ll buy you an orange juice in Korea.

Comment by Rob

I was there and we’ve still not met – just goes to show that you must emanate Smiths fan vibes. On the other hand, Campbell emanates a whole load of vibes and I’ve met him, so you must wisely be avoiding me.

Comment by John

That and you don’t have employers who want you out of the office as much as Rob.

Comment by John

Good point John. The irony being Mr N would like certain colleagues of his to be out the office as much as I am.

Comment by Rob

The bosses wife can spend as much time on jollies as she likes
Incidentally John, quite a few folks moan about not meeting me at conference doodahs, which just shows they genuinely haven’t (why Fred wants to come back for another helping is beyond me), mostly because I’m the shy one in the corner pretending to play with my phone so I don’t have to make small talk.
Anyway, you did meet me at some PSFK thingy. Tait spoke to me, had a chat with Faris, went for coffee with Russell, chatted to Beaker, even Parker exchanged a pleasantry. Did Dodds speak to me, despite having his picture taken with my ugly mug in vintage Lendl? Did he balls

Comment by northern

Good grief. Well I can only say that was yet another missed opportuntiy on my part. That was, I think, my first intimidating encounter with the world of adland and none of the aforementioned spoke to me.

I recall speaking with John Grant who I knew via the blogworld, Hugh MacLeod who I knew already and listening to a few other people at the pub afterwards. Russell was on a panel and said “I don’t know” a lot – I found that refreshing.

Comment by John

You’re very photogenic though

Comment by northern

Isn’t not remembering meeting you one of the most insulting things ever? Sorry, I’m just trying to stir up trouble from your commentary romance.

Two quick things:

1. Do you keep a file of every photo and blog post you’ve ever written Northern?

2. How come Iain looks 12 in that photo?

Comment by Rob

He was 12.

Comment by John

And, as I said, I was intimidated.

Comment by John

Intimidated? By a 12 year old and a bald pervert?

Comment by Rob

And by everyone else.

Comment by John

And how I was going to pay for the ticket.

Comment by John

And yet the funny thing is I’d bet people were intimidated to be meeting you. You can be a doddery Doddsy sometimes Mr Dodds.

Comment by Rob

Serendipity is the reason I remember the scary pictures of you and Dodds were not too far away from the time the parasitical presentations (still trying to work out that reference)
I’m not that self referential, honest

Comment by northern

can you fuckers get a room, no one here wants to see you getting ready to make the beast with 2 backs. and make sure its a silent room because no fucker wants to hear you trying to out shy each other for fucks sake.

where the fuck have your balls gone.

Comment by andy@cynic

By the way, remember this Rob?

Comment by northern


Comment by Rob

The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. Not long ago I Skyped with a friend who was driven out of the city by high rent and now has an artist’s residency in a small town in the south of France. She described herself as happy and relaxed for the first time in years. She still gets her work done, but it doesn’t consume her entire day and brain. She says it feels like college — she has a big circle of friends who all go out to the cafe together every night. She has a boyfriend again. (She once ruefully summarized dating in New York: “Everyone’s too busy and everyone thinks they can do better.”) What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

Comment by Marcelino H. Harmon

Leave a Reply