The year is 1989 and I am preparing for my G.C.S.E.s. aged 16.
My friends are all at home revising however I have been unfortunate to find myself in a rather strange predicament. I am sitting by the side of Pontsticill reservoir out of my mind on magic mushrooms.
This is not my first time by the side of this beautiful reservoir in an altered state of consciousness when I should be revising nor will it be the last. My exam results are a foregone conclusion and I care very little for the outcome I am on a spiritual quest and journey of self discovery as are many at that age listening to the "More" album by Pink Floyd.
I knew then what I know now….I am artistic and creative and what ever I achieve in life I will not take it with me beyond the grave….I will leave as I came in. Whether I am any good or not will remain to be seen I am 16 and have plenty of time to rectify any mistakes.
This is all to the annoyance of my parents and teachers who all say I am a very bright lad and could do so well in life…I have a vague interest in economics for some strange reason that is the opposite to my current situation of watching the ripples in the water turn into liquid plastic whilst a bird of prey circles above screaming "Warren buy me a drink".
Walking home the street lights turn into the death ray from War Of The Worlds and I shout "OOOWWWW LLLAAAA" back at them to try and befriend them incase they turn me into dust.
In other words all was not well for young Richard .
But I was determined to be a musician and I would learn how to play the guitar, the bass and a little keyboard, I would learn how to arrange songs, I would learn to record songs and I would learn to write songs/music.
Whilst my friend's were in university studying the duck's mind and how to think another man's thoughts I was head down over a guitar and small 4 track recorder.
Over the years I received plenty of praise and interest from record companies however like so many young musicians all this went straight to my head and I became greater in my own mind than I was in reality and reality was something I touched upon when I wasn't drunk, stoned, tripping on mushrooms or high on speed.
But I was talented….yes yes I know blowing my own trumpet but I was. My wasn't commercial its was experimental and dark yet beautiful and it was ahead of it's time (Down Ego Down)but if I heard it on the radio I certainly wouldn't buy it for enjoyment perhaps for artistic merit.
I always hated the culture of cover version bands and the irony is I now play in a cover tribute band for money and understand why so many musicians who started with such noble ideals prostitute themselves for money. "Art for art's sake but money for God's sake" is a line that stings me still and unfortunately since reality T.V. music is progressing in a manner that negates music's natural progression evolution instead of it following creative expression it follows taste dictated by non musicians and marketability….of course this has always been the case to a certain extent but today it is the strangling pressure that prevents positive change.
The last original album I heard that cut between commercialism and creativity was by The Prodigy in 1997…an album called "Fat of the land"….it sounds dated now but it shifted music at the time and gave the over prevalent dance music a kick up the backside.
And the darkest yet most creative album was Scott Walker's "Tilt" album in 1995.
Sure there have been some excellent and most enjoyable albums made since then but nothing that broke the rules or the mold.
Music, Film, Plays and Art that breaks the mold should be the center of our entertainment culture…..over importance has been placed on the "singer"….John Lennon wasn't a great singer nor is Shane Macgowan but they were able to write poetical lyrics that could make you feel alive….I don't care how good your voice is if your not singing anything original in an original way or taking me on a journey of your own invention step aside and allow the real talent that is now too afraid to put pen to paper in case it doesn't fit in with Simon Cowell's marketing machine.
Ever wondered why some of the best song writers and artists take drugs and died through it?…..let me answer that question for you.
When you create something you must dig deep to find it…..when you create something ORIGINAL and different you have to go to a place that not many could tread the paths to let along enter the building.
People say its just playing around on the guitar and having fun…..oh it can be that but that's a very small part of it.
So when programs like the Xfactor tell you about "Artists" being discovered all they mean is they find someone who can sing then put them through a very simple process where the real work is done before they enter the studio and are blissfully unaware of.
As a result of this the modern aspiration for any would be "Artist" is to turn away from the creative process and join a cue outside a theater to sing along with a backing track.
Ban the Xfactor and start a new reality TV show where only the most artistic writers and musicians of the generation will make it through….judged by real musicians, producers and writers.
And I mean REAL musicians……
Forget Simon, Dani and the other two irrelevant parasites get in Brian Eno, John Cale, Nick Cave, Jan Garbarek, John Tavener, Bob Dylan, James Dean Bradfield and Thom Yorke.