FEATURE: Sometimes, We Will Rise: How the Bravery of Musicians Has Inspired Me



Sometimes, We Will Rise:



How the Bravery of Musicians Has Inspired Me


THIS will be a short one…

Polly Crossman.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Polly Crossman

but, in the final days of the year, I will piece together a few features, interviews and reviews. I will put up, say, three more reviews (and as many interviews as come back to me); a selection of features by next weekend - maybe nine or ten before this time next week - and look back on a very changeable year. I have appropriated an image, and part of the feature title, from someone who (for The Pool) wrote about her terrible time of late - and how the poem Sometimes (by Sheenagh Pugh) provided guidance and reflection. The first verse of the poem contains these words:

Sometimes things don’t go, after all/from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel/faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail. Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well”.

In a few days; I will write a piece (non-Christmas-themed) that looks at how addiction and depression have claimed some great artists. It sounds like a depression thing to bring up but my interested is purely rational and scientific. I want to find out why so many musicians are turning to substances and whether there is a viewpoint and culture in music that sees drug-taking as acceptable and sociable – something that aids creativity and helps you bond with peers.



I was struck by the article because, not only did the writer find inspiration in the poem’s words, but it provided a chance to look at the issues and problems she faced and look forward to a better future – realising hope is out there and things can change. I am not giving to so-called ‘inspirational messages’ but realise words like we see above (from the poem) can be extrapolated by people going through a variety of situations. For me, when reading those words, it proved nourishing and humbling. It has been a hard and bad year for me in a number of areas. My job is a place I hate visiting and feel hopeless and lost there; the fulfilment I get from writing is minor (in time) compared with the necessity of work. My love-life is, well…non-existent and it has been a stagnant and unspectacular year – although, there have been some benefits and highlights! I will ponder more in a couple of weeks (as I look ahead to 2018) but there have been some moments of light among the fogginess. An appearance on Radio 5 Live and a recent chat with Matt Everitt has provided impetus and useful insight. Whilst it has been a rather topsy-turvy year for me, for musicians I know, they have had to undergo a lot and face challenges every step of the way. Not only have they had to work relentlessly to get their music out there: balancing that with day-to-day life adds extra pressure and strain.



I have seen so many posts – from various musicians around the world – expressing their sadness, strain and confusion. Whether personal issues have infested their professional life; the demands of the music industry taking its toll; the lack of appreciation and commercial success shattering illusions and dreams – I have witnessed a lot of people tackle bad situations with resilience and aplomb. It takes me back to that poetic verse and the fact we cannot always predict circumstances and things are not always obvious or lost. Just when you think everything is down and defeated: things can turn around and come through. There are no easy fixes and small good fortune does not change everything for the best. I have been enriched and motivated by musicians and the fantastic work they have put out in 2017. It has been a changeable and uncertain year on the world’s political stage and that, combined with our workaday strains, has placed a huge weight on the shoulders. I understand and appreciate how hard a career in music is and how hard people work. Mere words cannot limit any bad elements that come into our lives - but knowing seasons can change and things can work out should provide us with the strength to carry on. I cannot express my thanks in mere words with regards the musicians and artists who have provided me purpose and direction. The fact they have produced such stellar music means I have been able to grow as a person and find something to look forward to.



The end of any year, inevitably, puts us in a more pontificating and reflective mood. We assess how far we have come and what we can achieve in the year to come. I am in that position where I am weighing up the good and bad and deciding whether I have made real progression. Although I have made professional steps; I feel my personal life has failed to evolve at an appropriate and acceptable rate. I know many musicians have high expectations and will measure their success in numbers, streaming figures and airplay. This is the way music is and I can understand why many reduce success/failure to numbers. That is the stigma and disadvantage of the digital age: everything is numerical and business-like. We all have high hopes and want the very best for ourselves. If we do not live up to unrealistic standards then we deem ourselves failures! Many people I know have had to tackle depression, anxiety and personal problems; lost love and career downshift. I have been refreshed and compelled by the music I have heard and stunned by the ambition, determination and fortitude of the hundreds of artists who have made their way to me this year. I do not plan on slowing down in the final days of this year and look set to tackle more in 2018. It is only because of the musicians I encounter I am able to have this attitude and energy. There have been hard times (for us all) but it is the way we face them and rationalise the negative times that make us who we are. I am appreciative of the fantastic musicians who have given me the strength to go on and sympathise with those who have experienced struggles. To all of them out there, I have this to say:



KEEP going strong and be proud of yourself!