There was a nice tribute in The Guardian today to Nancy Banks Smith who has completed 40 years as a TV reviewer. It made me think about what I’ve watched over the last week.
I watch as much or as little TV as the next person but I’m really not given to watching much music. I don’t find it it too compelling to
have to know what people look like; sometimes it can even put you off. I did see two bits of music TV this week. Firstly I saw as much as I could take of the Grammys. Here was a case of the medium becoming the message. Each live performance blended in to another as everyone decided the only thing missing from any given song was the kitchen sink. Truly awful. (I hasten to add too that the winners bore little or no resemblance to good records that have come out over the last year – but that’s for another day.) It was all that is bad in the music business and Lord knows I’ve been in it long enough to recognise its bad days.
I decided instead to watch something which I recorded weeks ago and hadn’t yet seen: a BBC4 documentary of Fleetwood Mac. Many would say that my dismissal of the Grammys would be equally apposite for the Mac…but not me. Here was a great documentary which had the cumulative effect of doing the very thing any good music show ought to do: make you go out and listen to more of their music. On that criterion the programme was a resounding success. Sara, Dreams, Landslide…all songs that I had to hear again. Three great song writers in one band all giving their own story of being in one of the most successful acts of all time – then divorcing each other – well, that’s a story that’s got to be worth hearing. Conclusion…. keep getting back to the music. Ignore all the hoo-ha of Brits, Grammys and any other televised awards and celebrate what you hear and like. As E M Foster so beautifully put it, “Avoid all occasions which require new clothes.”
You can listen on Friday in your semet. A great double act of Charlie Dore and Beth Neilson Chapman, new music from Ben Glover, Midlake, John Hiatt and a special mention to Caitlin Rose (one to watch). We’ll finally get round to playing The Avett Brothers – which I’ve been dying to do since the start of the year. If that doesn’t convince you try this: the first track from, what must be the final record from Johnny Cash, American VI. All from 8 on Friday night on Another Country, BBC Radio Scotland.