Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sunday Supplement - On the power of great art

This morning I sat down to write my first Sunday Supplement for a few weeks. But as I was typing I heard the terrible news of the apparent suicide of Gary Speed and talking cerebrally about literature lost its importance. I put the computer down and shed a tear as the Swansea and Villa players marked their minute’s silence.

It is strange that the loss of a man I never met, who never played for my team or directly impacted on my life, could leave me so utterly shocked. But his has. Gary Speed was one of those consummate professionals that have formed the bedrock of football over the last 20 years. Whether depression is a cause here or not is still to be identified, but the fear is that the silent killer has ensnared another person without anyone knowing. Loss of life is always tragic, when it is at your own hands it is even more so.

I have a tendency to over-identify with music. This evening has been one of those occasions. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning by Bright Eyes is an album I often turn to and it captures much of what I’m feeling today. That post-socialising dissolution where you fearfully remember every dumb thing you might have said and long for company to keep the fears at bay. The exhaustion that comes with a little too much alcohol, the Sunday morning pillow-day need for comfort and warmth. And most of all the shock of a life ended too soon.

Bright Eyes is a rare and brilliant poet-songwriter. At heart he’s a beat poet, the spirit of Kerouac for a new millennium with a heart that feels too much and wants from the world something it cannot give. Yet disappointment never blunts his optimism for too long. There’s some Bob Dylan in him, too, and many others. Listening to this sublime album reminds me of wonder of music.

I’m not like Bright Eyes. I’m a quiet and insular person and generally plough a pretty steady field. That’s what I love about art. Great art puts you in the body of another person and lets you see the world through their eyes and your eyes at the same time. Great art lets you be someone you are not and feel what it is like to be them.

Come tomorrow I’ll wake up excited to start the week. But Gary Speed will not. I’m not sure what the point of this blog is. Perhaps it is 42. 

Like life, sometimes things are just what they are.

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