Alex James

Slow Life | 27 June 2009

Doing what I’m told

Doing what I’m told

‘Do you still do music at all?’ she asked. I think I’ve told you before. That is a musician’s least favourite question. Normally my heart sinks when I get prodded with that one. All musicians still make music, of course they do, and it’s soul-destroying to be reminded that no one knows or cares. Suddenly, though, it was the funniest thing anyone had said for ages and I had to gulp down a smirk before it split my face in half. ‘Oh, yes, sometimes, sure,’ I said.

Funny, because the previous night my old band had played our first gig for nine years and I was still glowing from it. It had been a success, more wonderful than I could ever have hoped: a grown man in front of me was trying to sing along, but was crying too much — like a three-year-old who has had his Smarties taken away. I know exactly how he felt. It was all quite emotional, and quite a story, too. Our return had been announced on the national news. I kept seeing my face staring back at me from the covers of music magazines and now it was bannered on the front of newspapers as well.

Funny, because this was a fashion shoot, and fashion is nominally all about what is hot, hot, hot. Quite frankly, without wanting to blow my own trumpet (although that is my first instrument), it’s me. But she was in charge and she didn’t seem to know that.

I’d completely forgotten that the only thing that is worse than people you meet assuming you’ve gone off the boil is people being fascinated by what you’re doing. That is utterly exhausting. Suddenly it was rather nice to be obscure again.

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