“I could keep whoring my heart out, I still don’t think that you’d hear me,” sings King Creosote in ‘Marguerita Red’. A ballad so tender and pure you’d be forgiven for letting slip the odd tear or two, late at night, should the mood take you.
Except that it’s not “keep whoring” that he sings, but “be pouring”. “I could be pouring my heart out.” An instance of the misheard lyric, then. Which has always bothered me in a round about kind of way, because I’d argue that keep whoring is a stronger idea here, adding depth and duplicity to what is otherwise a genuine, straight-up (and heartfelt) narrative. Not a major thing, you understand – for reasons personal as well as professional, ‘Marguerita Red’ will always feature in any list of song most beholden. But still, it’ll be whores instead of pours in my vista for the duration, and I don’t see why the truth should get in the way of imagination.
I mention the above because I too have kept whoring of late. That is, whoring this penchant for record-related scribbling, the silhouette writing for other sites as if some drunk freelance late with the alimony payment. “A 7,500 word Luke Haines retrospective? Sure, I can hammer one of those out.” “Some half-baked meditation upon what the releases of the decade so far represent in a wider, historical context? Hell, why not – Emmerdale Farm isn’t on for twenty minutes, and I could do with banging out a diatribe.” That’s on top of the unsolicited screeds starring random / forgotten noise merchants from the late 1980’s that I’ve been dispatching to Rolling Stone magazine with regularity. National Geographic, Take A Break, the Sunday Sport, and the monthly newsletter of the Western Cumbria Model Railway Association. All strangely never published, or even acknowledged (which I suspect is for the best).
It’s a cliché that writing about music is akin to dancing about architecture – but as with all stereotypical concepts there’s possibly a soupçon of truth, even if I’ve personally never subscribed to opinions that music journalism (in the widest understanding of the term) lacks relevance. It’s also a phrase that’s been on my mind of late; without going all self-indulgent on you, providence has provided the opportunity to spend far more time writing, with the possibility (intention? Vague idea? Jolly jape that will never come to pass?) of actually making money whilst I’m at it.
Let’s ask two thirds of Black Box Recorder what they think of the idea:
And whilst I suspect this specific conversation relates to gallery opening or associated gathering of London herberts, as a sentiment it works just as well for words about music. For when it comes to “stuff”, supply not only way outstrips demand but recent trends behind this most symbiotic relationship suggest – at least in terms of music writing (although the following is true to some extent for any other creative process you care to mention) – an audience grown expectant of free content, and content providers (and how I hate that phrase) increasingly reliant on clickbait to drive traffic. Because who needs in-depth profiles and ruminations when random photographs embedded on individual pages, then promoted under titles such as “The 30 Most Shocking Courtney Love Moments” are all that satisfy both advertisers and the faculties of those with low attention spans?
Clickbait, of course, is not the only model. But it is indicative of a movement away from more considered notions of critique and appreciation, and a market place in which amateur hacks (such as myself) spend inordinate amounts of time at the keyboard, banging out pieces of questionable quality without any expectation (or prospect) of remuneration. I’m not going to pop round yours and decorate your living room for gratis (ignoring for the moment that I’d make a right hash of it), but I am perfectly happy to furnish readers with tangents from listening to too may records without expecting an imminent PayPal transaction.
Perhaps I should pimp out the blog to advertising, or put the site behind a paywall (then watch in awe as visitor numbers shrink rapidly to zero)? Maybe I can get a gig writing single-sentence captions to sit beneath photos of llamas that resemble John Lennon… oh, I don’t know… did I mention that there’s a music hack for hire?