Got To Go 1: A Time To Blow, A Time To Know
Mortality.I still refuse to believe it, but its there.Sometimes I think it's a mercy, other times I think Beckett was right and its some kind of cosmic prank where the Universe randomly let this sentient thing be that is part of nature but sits above and beyond it, for a short while, before it ends. Pointless, as so few of us are actors in history. We might think our selection of shampoo is political, but it is just a gesture.Love whom you love and hold on as long as you can.Something that all too often ends long before its tits up and lights out is credible, dynamic artistic output. There are many reasons for this, and many have little to do with the Artist themselves.After he hung up his horn in 1975, Miles Davis really was finished.Ill health with constant pain, the persistent addictions that afflict so much genius, and market realities silenced the Bach, Mozart and Beethoven of the 20th Century, tragically.The trouble beyond Miles tired mind and body was a three level knockout punch. Fusion in its best sense was too trying for the increasingly regimented and obvious audiences for music.Too Funk and Rock for Jazz fans, way way too out there for Rock fans and too Rocky and Jazzy for Funk fans, and way too experimental to be tolerated by anyone by Brian Eno Miles did not fit into any radio format or record store labelled rack anymore. And his embrace of musicians from the lovely but more limited worlds of Funk, Rock, and Latin retarded his output. From 1972 onwards you can hear guitar greats like Reggie Lucas, who cut their teeth in more popular and repetitive genres, struggling, swimming and drowning when trying to improvise alongside this genius in a way John McLaughlin never found an issue. But by 1975 he had changed his name to some ethnic slur against Asians and was mostly lost to us.So Miles went into his Manhattan retirement flat, drank, injected, smoke and snorted rage dust. Went through ladies of the night like cheap socks to the point even sex had no appeal. And that takes some doing.Until the need for cash, which sits like a debt of blood in our our subconscious woke what was left of him to cover Cyndi Lauper tracks as if Kenny G had a soul, and then did some rap thing and died. Forgive him.When I first came to these shores a peer affected a small interest in my strange combination of love for Jazz, Hip Hop and some Prog before making me listen to all the Cure LPs from Three Imaginary Boys to Show in sequence.I never was the same.But there clearly was, or should have been, and End. Fat Bob himself laid it out - End, the last track on Wish, the Cure LP that too many neglect. Then all the Pixies.Some odd supply teacher pimped her daughter at me in 1991 and I almost went to their last show at the 9:30 Club in DC. Back when the Bouncers were armed there. Almost. The logistics and this rather scary girl put me off, but again, there was an arc from Come on Pilgrim to the first Frank Black 4AD LP, which sounded like a fine collection of B-Sides.An End. Where we all go, in breath and talent.A logical progression from birth to experimentation to maturity then beauteous exhaustion.Yet how can one go with this? Captain Beefheart did, or might have.Don Glen Vliet was the mercurial real magic in the shadow of Zappa. Frank gave us much, but the need to joke choked a lot of possibility. Don had another view. He made a few wack records, by accident, before coming back hard and true at the Radar Station then ate Ice Cream For Crow.And that was it.Don then found a paintbrush. Finished with sound, he hit canvas. With beauty. One Art had run out of road, another unfolded.I've nearly lost friends over my very strong preference for the Stones over the Beatles. The Beatles had decent business sense, but like so many artists, before 1968 the Stones sure did not.Dodgy deals, unpaid royalties and shifty advances shared in brown paper bags and small notes meant that the band really was dead broke. Properly penniless with no prospect of it getting better.An odd, magic European old Aristotrash type called Prince Rupert Loewenstein despised rock, or in fact any music other than the most obvious forms of classical. Yet as part of the uniquely diverse late 60s London scene, a place far far more vital and diverse than todays Hoxtonhipstanez, he ran into Jagger and Richards at some very interesting parties. Had no idea who they were, but loved them straight away as men. His Old Word honour was outraged that these ultimately, at the time, very clever, kind, funny, hardworking and charming young men were being robbed. And though he hated their art, the fact these craftsmen were punished for success and robbed from all sides offended his soul.Sure, back then, there was criminally no Minimum Wage. But fuck knows there was, effectively a Maximum Wage. There was a sense that no-one deserved multiple millions a year. Even very, for the time, Republican governments in the USA thought beyond a few large, you needed to pay back 80%+ to the very Nation that made it possible. The UK was even fairer. Anything above £1m or so a year was hit at up to 98% tax. Yet the economy grew fast, and there were more ordinary people very rich than today. How funny. How sad we forgot this.So the Prince not only began to untangle illegal rape contracts for the Stones, but found ways to hide the band in the South of France in the early 1970s from a Tory Government that thought nobody needed, or in fact deserved, more than three new Rolls Royces and a couple massive Country Estates every year.The Prince was not only a very clever and honest financial advisor to the Stones, much more out of honour than personal profit, but a nanny, psychiatrist and friend. Trouble is, sometime a good friend tells you things from love you don't want to hear.Like maybe you should cash up, retire with your head held sort of high, and not defecate on your own legacy for money you don't need by doing duets with fucking Xtina on film. So my spies tell me in around 2002 the Prince strongly advised his old friends to call it a day. Stop performing in embarrassing arena shows for money you don't need. "Remaster" your records and sell them, fine, but as artists and as men, admit you've had a good innings and leave them happy and laughing. Keep some dignity.The result with the living corpses was a fallout. And the Prince, being broke himself, wrote by all accounts a very interesting business book about the relationship.Now he's dead, and the Stones carry on. In shame. And we will examine the how, the why and the horror next time.