Thursday, April 12, 2012

I had long-been consumed with the confident showman: the thrashing gestures, the throwing back of the head, the sweat and the movements that would otherwise indicate absolute conviction. I contemplated his arrogance, I analysed his appeal. I read journal articles about notions of masculinity and the "semiotics of Robert Plant's bare chest" (no, really). I returned to the same iconic live images, again and again. I never could quite articulate why it appealed to me.

Driven by my motivation to find out why, I set about constructing a radio documentary about the showman phenomenon. In my research efforts, I interviewed the most aggressively narcissistic person of my acquaintance. We didn't even make the five minute mark before he insulted me and I walked out of the interview. However, I did manage to extract something useful out of him in that short space of time. He told me that all expression of confidence is ultimately fake.

Ever since that discussion, I have been looking for that fakeness he was talking about, those subtle indications of doubt. Often, it is a vulnerability that is not apparent within the stage show itself. It becomes apparent in interviews, when a musician expresses a sad wail of frustration that they cannot get a gig at the Marquee. I see it where I had never seen it before, in the lyrics for Queen's In the Lap of the Gods (Revisited). Words that reveal a sadly universal fear, no one believes in what we do.

Fuck Yeah, Freddie Mercury

As a teenager, it would have been near impossible for me to have imagined Freddie nervous and in doubt. He was my perennial showman, the eternal signifier of what it meant to be choc-full of drive and confidence. I suppose you could say that my desire to be driven and confident was the source of my fascination. I can safely say that it's likely that it's this innermost desire that is central to the fascination of many other fans, who eagerly clamour to the railings of the stage to gape at their musician's antics.

Somehow, my fascination with confidence doesn't seem to be as compelling as my fascination with doubt. Many of us may consciously (or subconsciously) desire to possess the arrogant bravado of a cocky showman. Perhaps it's not to the extent that we wish to flounce about stage in a Harlequin leotard, sure, but there is a lot to be said for having faith that there is value in who we are and what we do. I suppose I yearn for those subtle indicators of doubt in those I admire, as a reminder that although these doubts are universal, we are all capable of achieving great things.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Yé Yé Podcast #42
Charlotte Leslie - Les Filles C'est Fait Pour Faire L'Amour
Jocelyne - A La Fin Tu Gagneras
Marie Laforêt - A Demain My Darling
Carole Robert & Improvistas - Le Fruit Defendu
Anne Kern - Tant Pis, Tant Pis, Entre Donc (Come On In)
Stella - Pourquoi Pas Moi
Nino Ferrer - Mirza
Richard Anthony - La Terre Promise
Frank Alamo - Heureux Tous Les Deux
Adèle - Je Ne Veux Plus D'accordéon

Download (38.4 MB)

No comments: