Sunday, 13 September 2015

SOUL SURVIVORS

'I cry ... but tears don't seem to help me carry on ...'

This is what soul sounds like. This is almost as good as being there on the night. Almost - because nothing can ever compare to the live musical experience. I used to say that singer-songwriter Jim Diamond underestimated his capabilities. I was wrong about that... because I clearly remember him standing his ground and refusing to dilute himself, or to compromise, at a time when the music industry was consumed by an all-pervading delirium that caused it to lose its grip on what was good. A lot of Emperor's New Clothes being worn back then. Too many panicky A&R guys out there, headless-chickening about, trying to sign the Next Big Thing and wasting budget on also-rans and never-would-bes. And look what happened to our music industry. Those same execs, I remember the conversations well, poured scorn on investment in the BRIT School. 'Fat lot of good that will do,' was the refrain. Gave us Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua, Leona Lewis, Adele and the rest, didn't it? Poor Amy, whose music will stand the test. What of the rest?

It takes ten thousand hours. Jim was one of those who spent them - and ten thousand more. He is still spending. He writes songs from the rawest edge of his heart, from the innermost membranes of his eyeballs. He has been to the brink, like the rest of us. He shares the pain and heartache. He scrawls rings around laughable X Factor wannabes who spout a bit of karaoke down the Nag's Head, then present as would-be pop stars, thinking that all it takes is the ability to gargle a passable vocal impersonation of Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran, Sam Cooke or Otis, and to 'want it soooo much'.

Listen, wannabes.

It takes a unique voice, that is instantly recognisable.

It takes guts and determination and an instinct for survival.

It takes hope.

It takes a long time.

I remain in awe of Jim's talent. Time has not withered him. Not by a minute. Age, today, is the least relevant factor. The longer you live, the better you get at this stuff - if indeed you had it in the first place. Our ailing record business needs to summon some courage, look in the mirror, rediscover its integrity and wise up to the true meaning of talent. Then it needs to persuade this precious one-off and others like him out of the wilderness. It doesn't grow on trees.


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