We Talk A Lot – Mostly To Ourselves: Pondering “Today I Died Again”.

“He don’t say much. He’s bored with the fans.“ – it’s how it feels anyway. And if I hear one more “he’s a busy man” excuse, I’ll scream! Because…HE IS ALWAYS BUSY! He is Jim fucking Kerr – apart from me using “fucking” just now – “busy” is his middle name – for want of him actually having one (a middle name, that is).

Even at his most busiest, back in time…back to those halcyon days I REALLY need to move on from that have well and truly died and aren’t coming back any time soon, it seems – he would reply to people. Not just me!

The slow death of the visitor wall just kills me. He actually used to seem to take a vested interest in what people were posting to the visitor wall. Like certain things and even respond to people there. If someone had a question about the music or lyrics and he felt keen enough to, he’d respond to people there.

I mean, heck…without his interest there, the whole “art” thing of mine would have NEVER happened. I almost feel like I want to bang his head against a wall just…so he can see how important this aspect of the fandom is to some fans. It goes beyond the music! You inspire so many of us, Jim! When you respond to people it…here’s a favourite word of yours – it TRANSCENDS mere “music and listener”, mere “songwriter and fan”, mere “singer and swooning ninny”. Lol

And I miss it. Not just for me, but for other fans too!

A case in point: last night on SMOG, a fan asked about Today I Died Again – whether it was about domestic violence – quite how they reached that theory I do not know entirely (I guess just from the interaction that happens between the lead couple within the song lyric?) but I shared what I felt was my interpretation of it, and linked to my post on “Why I love…” about it.

Another fan later replied with a quote from Dream Giver Redux with this excerpt: “This song’s reincarnation theme was inspired from Jim’s reading of the Bhagavad Gita.”

Really? Okay, well the only thing that actually alludes to reincarnation within the song IS the title itself and the singing of it – and maybe the line of “back to a year, back to a youth” – even then, that’s tenuous. Also, I am not sure about whether Jim would have read Bhagavad Gita at that point. I am sure he said he first read the book in 1982 in a recent post (recent being…within the past couple of years). I know it subsequently became a much favoured book of his. As a consequence I tried reading the book. I didn’t get very far with it to be honest. I basically read this whole preamble about the book’s translation which was quite a few pages long (about 40, if memory serves). It just felt too taxing in the end. The only thing that stuck was the gained knowledge of learning it was a source of inspiration for Gandhi, which I find beyond perplexing that one of the world’s great pacifists was inspired by a book about war. Well…at least had a scene of battle as its main focal point.

Today I Died Again is penned in 1980, obviously, so I would think that predates Jim reading Bhagavad Gita? Perhaps I have my info wrong and he did indeed read it back then? I still see little evidence of the influence of the book on the song. But perhaps that’s just my interpretation of it?

Anyway, (sorry, I went off researching, and now I feel as if I have worked on this post for much longer than I intended to)…back to the fan enquiry and pondering of the song.

There would be a time, not that long in the past, in which I would have said “you could ask Jim – he might give you a reply. Who better to ask?” And that’s where I return to the special! Being able to ask the man who wrote those amazing lyrics. Okay, he may not have always replied even when I came into the fandom, even to me, but there was a heck of a lot better chance of a response six years ago than there is now! And it really, REALLY saddens me.

I was about to go off on another angry rant but…I guess I just need to give up. “No one likes a quitter”. Well, great then. No one will ever like me. Stellar. I can live with it. When you feel you’ve done all you can and you’re getting nowhere, you have to “embrace the suck” and just…walk away, I guess? Am I right, Jim?

Perhaps it is better we all ponder it amongst ourselves? There was a time, pre-Internet, where we’d had little choice to do so. The fans wouldn’t be interacting with each other as we do now. There’s no way we could pose a question to you like that unless there was luck and/or special circumstances. We wrote to you (old fashioned “snail mail” style) and you took the time to reply. Or we’d have thought to ask you backstage, had we been lucky to see you after a gig. Back then I’d guess you’d have been very reluctant to share or offer up such tokens of openness anyway. “Interpret them as you see fit.”

Admittedly, that is the beauty of your songwriting – particularly back then. Just how much they could be open to interpretation. Your very own Burroughs technique. “I’ve always liked ambiguities and fragments and things with a bit more of a mystery to them”, you said in an interview for Dutch TV in 1983.

“Out of the mouth of babes“ – and what a babe! Lol. (Yep. I’ll never stop adoring you, you gorgeous man. Fuck, I’m a hopeless case!)

So…what exactly IS Today I Died Again about? You can search for my “Why I love” piece on it and see what you think. I may just read over it again myself and see of my idea about it has changed.

“She can’t remember before the heat” – bloody hot flushes, hey hen?! Lol

Seeking Praise And Approval…The Desire For Validation.

It’s because Charlie knows you’re always learning. We’re all always learning. The person who doesn’t believe you are not always learning is the biggest fool of them all.

Surely Charlie’s, or even the rest of the band’s “added recognition” not being sought out is automatically gained by the crowd reception at gigs. It is why you guys do what you do too, right? The playing live element? Would you still be slogging away 40+ years later if no one turned up? If no crowds were there to give rousing receptions?

Yes, the ‘hard yards’ are done quietly, without fuss. Of course. But all the elements converge. You may not outwardly look to seek praise or recognition, but without some of it along the way, what other drive is there to keep going? Honestly?

Also within Jim’s latest post was a link to a podcast titled ‘It Takes What It Takes’ – it’s an episode of a series called The Daily Stoic – a compendium to daily email meditations from “DailyStoic.com”. I looked at all the rest of the episodes to see what subjects/topics were being looked at.

Obviously certain titles caught my eye, “You Have To Be Kind To Yourself”, and “Do It Because It’s Right. Not So They’ll Like You”. Yeah…that titled SCREAMED out at me! One – as one I need to employ, two – that this is definitely something Jim himself employs!

One can only assume the mister is subscribed both to the podcast and daily emails? He does seem to like to absorb aspects of philosophy, making passing references to things like The Art of War, Bhagavad Gita, and “Syd Arthur” (sorry, had to have a joke). And he recently quoted Marcus Aurelius in a post.

I can see myself taking a listen to some of these podcast episodes.

Desiderata – Max Ehrmann

The opening line to this was read out in a question on a TV quiz…and…it just struck me as sounding like the chorus to The Signal And The Noise. I had never heard of it before! It’s amazing how these things fall into place. It’s a wonderful piece of prose, and something we could all do with reading daily…either as we retire for the night to have with us fresh in the morning, or when the new day begins for us each morning.

I know Jim said recently he gained a strength and resolve from reading the Indian classic Bhagavad Gita. I started it….but unlike his previous mention of Siddhartha (of which I read and enjoyed and saw empowering positives from)….I found the former tougher going….and that was just through the description of it going through translation from German and into English…and, just the description of the book through those passages made me wary of it. Akin to why I have avoided Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War. I know many people get philosophical positives from these works….Gandhi – possibly the world’s most renowned pacifist, is said to have derived strength from reading Bhagavad Gita. How this can be befuddles me…but it’s said he saw it as an allegory. So, perhaps I will try to finish reading it – well, BEGIN…as I have not actually got to the passages of text in the book, yet.

But, I do have to say that, for now, this passage of prose from Desiderata – esp. that first sentence of it, as read out in the quiz question, really threw me for six and got me looking into it. I think this is much more a mantra I could live by. Perhaps as it is not overly complex in its language, but simple, short and succinct.

I would love to ask Jim whether he knows it or is familiar with it…but I have posted to the SMO visitor wall a couple of times already, so I best not. Perhaps for a future time…

Click HERE to read the Wikipedia entry on Desiderata.