One of the good things of getting old is that you’ve known some people forever. I can remember my father behind the control column of a Cessna in the late Seventies, I can remember my mother driving me around in a proper white Fiat 500. I can remember Nick Cave when he was still a junkie and how he once looked into our eyes (friend F. still talks about it). I can remember how young Rupert Graves was in Maurice when it came out, he was just a lad and we had no idea who he was. I can remember Naked at the cinema and asking friend A. will you come with me and him saying alright. I can remember the leather jacket friend A. used to wear back then and how it was later stolen at the gym.
I rewatched Naked last night.
It’s a pity artists can never know why we love them so much. There’s no way we can tell them, no matter how loud we scream from the front row, or how we unbutton their shirt when they stagedive. They don’t know. Well maybe Nick Cave knows a bit now, he calls it energy. But to most of them we, the public, are aliens. They can’t see themselves in us the way we see ourselves in them. We provide no narrative to them.
It’s a bit sad.
My direct experience is ridiculous and sparse, but I think I know a little bit. From the stage, you normally can’t see the public, because of the lighting. Sometimes they are not even there physically. Anyway they’re a black, strangely dusty entity, they’re not even individuals. And you have no time for them anyway, you’re all focused on your execution. You’re all alone up there. And when you happen to meet one single person from the public, you basically say thank you and that’s it, there’s not much else you have to say.
One thing I noticed is that when someone who knows me in person starts to read my stuff, after a while they become kinder. I guess it’s because they see, in what I write, some degree of vulnerability they don’t see in me in real life. I don’t mind. But sometimes I feel like I’m manipulating them, to make them feel something. That’s what providing a narrative looks like from the other side sometimes. You may even feel a bit guilty.
The fourth wall is there for a reason.