Jim Kerr – The Belief Academy

I’ve come up with an idea. For wanting to be able to interview Jim and knowing that as much as I would like for it to happen this blog is NEVER going to be seen as ‘professional’ enough to get the chance to interview him, then…let’s examine, dissect and discuss things he has said in other interviews, either past or recent. 

To begin with, two recent interviews come to mind. One is from 1989 and the release of Street Fighting Years. There is a part of this interview I found most surprising! One, for the Jim Kerr of 1989 to say such a thing, and for the feeling that the Jim of 2022 most likely not being in agreement with the Jim of 1989 in the present day. I’ll come to the second interview in a moment, but for now, let’s discuss the first.

The piece of footage should automatically play from the correct point but if it doesn’t, play it from 06:55 to hear what he says.

I’ve never heard him be quite so… I’m not even sure what words to use here? Humble…dismissive…doubtful…offhand…. Yeah, I’m not really sure what the right word to put here is. My point is, it seems a statement very unlike Jim to make in terms of his songwriting, “I don’t think I do a very good job, but it’s the best I can do.” I was genuinely astounded by that. 

I guess one could argue he’s not talking about his songwriting, his lyric writing, per se but more his overall contribution to the band dynamic. Perhaps he is trying to talk in broader terms as he seems to suggest that what he feels is his contribution to the art, the ‘product’ of Simple Minds is to ‘package’ the music in the best way possible. That still makes that statement one that I would have never expected to hear from him. Its tone and its sense of doubt. Its modesty and … humility.

It’s not something that feels very forthcoming from the Jim Kerr of 2022, and I don’t think the Jim Kerr of 1979 had it. The Kerr of 1979 had nothing to lose though. The Kerr of 2022 has an Ivor Novello, 60 million album sales, a 20 album back catalogue and countless successful chart hits and tours to counter any of the doubt that would ever creep in. So, the Kerr of 1989 should fall somewhere in between, right? So, why does he not seem to? Why would he say something like that in 1989? They’ve just had their first UK Number 1 single with Belfast Child…let alone what has come before it – some dozen other UK Top 40 hit singles (EveryHit.com). Was it purely an exercise in humility? To stay grounded? Perhaps. Who needs to show modesty now with the wealth of accolades to one’s name, right? 

The second piece of conversation I saw that piqued my interest came from a video clip from 1998. Jim is doing this piece to camera about the recording of Neapolis and talking about Glitterball and what it’s about (interesting to hear how he described what the song was about – made me hear the track with fresh ears it has). He then talks about … inspiration and guidance I guess one would view it. He says, “I would love to put together some place where people are taught – not really taught how to do things but maybe helped to believe in themselves more. I think belief is everything.”

The clip should (again) play from the right point but if it doesn’t, view it from 03:05 to narrow out the piece. 

I felt that this is what Jim tried to do with me back in the mists of time. He … I was going to say ‘obviously’ but it was never obvious to me… I’ve never really been able to accept it…but there must have been something in why he gave such … credence to my art…to me? I have always dismissed it as he was ‘just being nice.’ I’ve never understood it. I’ve never felt worthy of it. And because of these things I feel as though I have made him feel so very tired of me. Because I just kept on trying to prove my worth. To feel justified, vindicated…accepting of it. And it absolutely made me fall in love with him. That part of it has never, ever gone away. I don’t think it ever will. 

So, these two statements almost cancel each other out in my interpretation of things. To say that “belief is everything” and then to say of your own artistic ability “I don’t think I do a very good job…” I guess it’s the “…but it’s the best I can do”, that is the key. I never ever feel like the things I do ARE the best things I can do. I always feel utterly inept and am always questioning my ability to do anything. If I enjoy doing things, it’s half the battle won. It’s usually the enjoyment I derive from it that spurs me on with things rather than any real sense I am any good at it. Like now, for example, with uni – it’s the enjoyment I derive from the discovery of things – learning new things every day that spurs me on. Am I actually any good at learning? Do I truly have any academic ability? Will I ever get to be anywhere near where I aspire to be? Probably not. In all real likelihood? No. So, this is where I need to learn from Jim. It shouldn’t matter to me. I keep having to remind myself ALL THE TIME that ‘the race is the prize’. That the growth comes from the learning – not the university degree at the end.

Theorised name for Jim’s proposed ‘school’.

I feel rather sad that instead of some kind of ‘academy’ that Jim was pondering wanting to put together in that video clip from 1998, what he actually ended up doing was establishing a hotel. I think Taormina probably had enough of those to be fair. I like the idea of a Socrates style academy. SocKERRtes – yeah. Lol. Doesn’t really work as well as ArKERRmedes. It could have easily been the ArKERRmedes Academy – or even better, the ArtKERRmedes Academy! Lol. I’ll get my coat.

On a serious note, that academy would have been grand. And on a personal note, I need to keep reminding myself to hold fast, to stay positive, to back my ability, to BELIEVE in my potential. To have faith in myself! I can’t keep expecting people to show faith in me if I have none of it myself! And if I keep believing that I CAN’T do it, or I won’t be any good at it, then I’ll just compound that belief won’t I? 

So, there are two questions I’d ask Jim: Where do you think the line between self-belief and complete delusion of one’s own ability lies? And, what happened to the ‘belief academy’ idea? Answers on a postcard some day? I wish!

Leave a comment