In the past three weeks, the feelings and emotions I derived from the band I love(d) have changed…dramatically.
I’m not sure how I am going to continue this blog and be truly objective, for one! And, it probably stopped being objective on January 5th, 2016…the day of the Hunter And The Hunted post.
I need to try to explain the emotional pull Simple Minds music had on me…before the whole Jim thing started. I suppose my discovery of them was such an “epiphany” moment. And given it’s true, biblical meaning…the irony of telling Jim he is NOT a messiah is not lost on me! But it really was the music that gave me that feeling. I found that early body of work felt like buried treasure. It was dark, moody, industrial, political (without many fans detecting it…probably without Jim even detecting it, or admitting to it…lyrically), dance. Such a European sensitivity to it.
The strange thing is…the past two music documentaries I’ve watched that I have been expecting Simple Minds to feature in, they have either barely featured in, or not even featured at all. I felt they have been largely snubbed. Commercially, by far the most successful band to come out of Scotland has been largely ignored by music documentary makers for the BBC. Why? One wonders. Their success speaks for itself? Are people sick of the Simple Minds story? Who knows?
Moving through the catalogue, by October, 2014, I am listening to Simple Minds solidly…every single day…for hours a day. Absorbing early live recordings. Watching every piece of early live footage I can get my hands on. Getting intoxicated with this early performing style that Jim Kerr has. I become infatuated with him. Utterly drawn to him. Mesmerised by him. He’s cast a spell on me. My little Rasputin.
I’ve started the blog…it was initially on Tumblr, which is very image rich (much like Instagram). And the blog from those days, I am highlighting his lyrics and expressing that infatuation, visually. By December, 2014…full blown infatuation has kicked in. But it takes about just over another year to start to transform into something else.
My first Simple Minds concert is some 9 months into my fandom – at Cambridge Corn Exchange. On the UK leg of the spring Big Music tour, I see them just the once. I already desperately wanted to go to more, but money was faaar too tight then, so I had to be happy with just the solitary gig. Shortly after, a few late summer tour dates were announced, sprinkled across Europe. I book a ticket to see them at the Boomerang festival in Hickstead, East Sussex.
It was a lovely gig. A number of days later, I travel to Australia, my first trip home in over 8 years. I left on a high, having just seen the band I love for the second time.
Being in Australia, you feel so far removed from what is going on “at home”. Facebook was my lifeline. Simple Minds Official became part of that lifeline. The music saw me through the long journey home. Soothed me during my travels. That music. Jim’s words…his voice…they became my comfort and solace.
And Facebook was a way for me to express what that meant. The art applications I loaded on my iPad Mini before I left the UK allowed me to express myself in a way that I never expected to. It was therapy. And within it, my love for Simple Minds and for Jim, as an artist, grew and grew.
When I made the Hunter And The Hunted piece…it felt like it came from that same ethereal place that the New Gold Dream album itself came from. I had never felt proud of anything I had ever made. I never thought I could make something so visually “on point”. Yes, the images I overlaid were not mine to begin with. But it was my composite image in my head…visualising that beautiful Kyoto snow scene that his words gave such clarity to. That “musical landscape” Simple Minds can produce. I encapsulated that with the snow scene I chose to use to represent it…and at the heart of it…at the centre…that beautiful young man, and his words. It was the EXACT visual interpretation of Hunter And The Hunted.
I never imagined I would ever feel proud enough of something I made to actually BOAST about it! To want Jim to see it! I had been sharing little visual snippets of lyrics for months. I had absolutely wowed myself with the result of Hunter And The Hunted. And, it started a chase. The desire to bring artistic visual interpretations to the SM songs I had fallen in love with. Prior to Hunter And The Hunted…it was just a way to share a few lines from a song that impacted particularly. This was something different! This transcended mere enjoyment of the lyrics.
And this is the point in which being a Simple Minds fan also transcended mere enjoyment of the music. When it TRULY transcended that! Because it became more than…”Ooh, this fan’s done a nice arty thing”, for me it became, “She gets it! She really gets it. This is what it’s all about.”
Music is such a subjective thing…like all things that are artistic and creative, there is a personal, emotional pull to it. Music is a uniting force, but still ultimately experienced in an individual way. My memories of Cambridge in 2015, of Hickstead, of the Hackney Empire gig…of the nine Acoustic gigs, of the four Walk Between Worlds showcase gigs, of Wentworth, of Aix – although shared with many Simple Minds fans will always be unique and individual to me. I will have my own memories and interpretations.
The expression in how the music made me feel unfolded more and more in the art I was making. And Jim was its centrepiece. I felt that MY feelings of the music were as important to him as they were to me. Perhaps it was only ever as an acknowledgement that…it compounded to him that he was making an impact on someone else’s life. I’m sure that feels amazing…but perhaps it also becomes corrupting?
I said a few times…and it is still true…most days I spent at home at my mum’s, caring for her…I felt alone. But the world of Simple Minds never made me feel alone. The fans I spoke to and befriended in those months didn’t. Jim never did. He always seemed to have time for me. As busy as he always seems to be. As busy he was then.
The art soared. My feelings for Jim soared with it. What had been infatuation and aesthetic attraction became emotional investment…and love. For 18 months I had “fancied” him, and now it was changing. I was starting to invest heavily – emotionally.
Nights in Oz I felt unsafe and alone. In my most recent returns home, I would feel unsafe at night, even within the comfort of my mum’s home. My mum lived in an area of the western suburbs of Sydney. The area never had the best of reputations. A birthday party one year at our house, we were held hostage by a neighbour at gunpoint. Those things the mind tends to try to shield you from…so harrowing to almost be erased from memory. But, that’s how the area was…and has hardly changed in 40 years. When I was younger, I had my older siblings around me…my two strong brothers (my other brother had grown up with his father), and my mum, always made me feel safe. But in the past few trips home I was alone with my now ageing, almost completely deaf, poorly sighted and severely disabled mother. I’d be terrified at night and would barely sleep.
In 2015/16, I would fall asleep listening to Simple Minds. I can’t ever express what a…security blanket it became! Through thunderstorms (“here comes lightning – I like the way it shoots” – NOT FOR ME! Thunderstorms scare the fucking crap out of me…and only the sound of SM helped calm me. I would hide myself under the covers and listen to them…and feel safe), balmy nights, rowdy parties, a cacophony of crickets making a racket….every random backfiring car or random setting off a firework. Everything that unnerved me about being in my mum’s house at night was tempered by the joy and calm I drew from Simple Minds.
I can’t go over it anymore. The rest of it is all here on the blog. It lives here as a testament of how amazing and wonderful and inclusive it all was.
I would have the odd little spat with Jim. We had the odd disagreement. But that’s all it ever was. A little spat. A misunderstanding. Nothing that ever took away the beauty and joy of the music, the gigs…all of it.
Last year when the Acoustic tour reached Italy, there was a kind of frenzy that took place.
An American fan expressed frustration of there being no news on the horizon of Simple Minds touring the United States. Jim, in his usual flippancy decided to make light of it…but it was done with a higher than usual sarcastic tone – he said something along the lines of “There are these magic metal things called planes, and they can fly you around the world. You can go anywhere you like…” as if to say, “If you are that desperate to see us, hop on a plane.” Which is what he COULD have said…perhaps tempered with a “But I can appreciate that is not possible for all. We WILL get to America at some point. We are trying!” But…diplomacy is not always there. Neither is the empathy.
Yes, the fan’s comment was similarly sarcastic, something like “You DO have fans Stateside that want to see you too, you know!” But I think that expression of frustration was a little more justified than Jim’s response to it. The fan is one of many fans. It is far more cost effective, from a fan point of view…from an individual fan point of view, to have a band come to your country, than for you to somehow find the funds and travel to the other side of the Atlantic to see your favourite band. That is a given.
I left a comment for Jim saying “are you trying to piss off every American fan you have?” The response was “what are you talking about? You’ve only been around a couple of years. Got to go some way yet to earn your stripes as a real fan.” What relevance it drew to my point, I never quite understood, and I shrug it off initially and just thought “Oh, okay Jim. Ha ha.”
But it just started to churn me up. I was gutted. And the Acoustic tour was hitting the UK in three weeks time, and I was starting to regret my nine gigs. It just started to cut me to pieces those words. And it just got worse and worse. Every day felt worse, not better! It took those whole three weeks to simmer down. Glasgow ended up enjoyable. The gig was amazing. I had a ball.
The dying embers of the hurt from that remark were finally fully extinguished when I met him.
Fast forward to early July this year. Simple Minds hit Italy. The frenzy starts again. Jim has a meeting with fans prior to a gig in which, when sharing in a post on Simple Minds Official, he decides to describe them as “real fans”. Initially without the quotation marks, which in retrospect was actually slightly better.
For me, the term seemed divisive and exclusive, and also brought back all that happened in Italy the previous year.
And now we know where things are. Where they have ended up. I have explained in a previous post how the festival at Aix-Les-Bains was. How it felt to be there, particularly during SMs performance. I fear it will never be the same again.
I am at a genuine crossroads right now. I can listen to early Simple Minds. I can watch early Simple Minds. But I find it extremely hard to do that with current Simple Minds. I currently cannot listen to Walk Between Worlds. I haven’t listened to it since the beginning of July. I certainly cannot listen to the title track. And I cannot watch recent tour footage. Not without it feeling void of all emotion and joy.
So, as I say…I am at a crossroads. On Saturday night, after the Caezar gig…I felt, perhaps, I still might be able to go and enjoy the 3 SM gigs I have left to go this year – and right up until early July…oh, how I wanted that 3 to be so much more! But I’m not sure I can go. Or should go. If they are going to feel like Aix did…and there is now a VERY STRONG chance they will, there is no point in me going.
To see friends? Yes! To meet my friend coming from Australia? Hell yes! But, if I am otherwise going to be a “wet blanket”…not enjoy being there. Not get any of the excitement and passion and love from it that I used to, then…there really is little point.
So…having read this. One: thank you! Two: keep an eye out…there may just be a ticket give away on the blog VERY soon!
With time…I may continue to consider myself a “mega” Simple Minds fan. Dedicated? Loyal? My loyalty has been tested, I’m afraid…and it’s been found floundering, after a rock solid four years. I’m not sure I can remain loyal to a philosophy that says that to disagree with someone deserves severance.
It has marred so much of the past four years. I really did think my time as a Simple Minds fan had just begun. That I was also in it for the long haul. Unyielding in my devotion and love for this band and the incredible music that comes from them.
In time, it may grow back to being somewhat how it was just a few short weeks ago.
I want to continue this blog! I want it to be objective! But, it is a personal blog too. It’s *MY* blog. The world of Simple Minds from my personal angle. I still hope it can retain “a heavy dose of Jim Kerr”. Jim *is* Simple Minds after all. Jim and Charlie. (I’m not sure which one is “Simple” and which one is “Minds” though…)
Let’s see, shall we? Let us see…
The only thing I know about the future right now is that it is uncertain.