Earlier this year a friend in a group who are signed to a major indie label sent me a list of requests/best practice as recommended by the labels digital content expert. It’s long, and detailed. In order to maintain the level of ‘engagement’ and ‘content production’ necessary to satisfy the label that they are doing their best to promote themselves it would mean my friend would be spending hours every day, just selling themselves online.
It makes for depressing reading. More depressing, I think, than if you study the nexus of Tik Tok ‘influencer’ and their subsequent musical career. I still have vivid memories of feeling outrage that David Soul, the Starsky in 1970s cop show Starsky and Hutch (or was he Hutch?) should release a record, let alone have a hit in 1977. Stay in your lane, I would have said if I’d been smart enough to use that phrase out of a motorway context back then. Still it was understandable - he was famous and selling a few records was equal to him selling his (forgive me) soul to National Express to promote coach travel. Which he also did.
And, it’s true, Ian Dury did make a few adverts and he wasn’t the first or last pop singer to try to break into acting. But still. I like a tidy universe.
If youngish music cunts like my friend are being urged to waste half their lives finding new ways to say, please stream me, what about the oldies, the old cunts?
Following Geoff Barrow, previously of Portishead and now the drummer (I think) in klingklangists from Bristol, Beak, on Twitter should be an informing social dip. He’s in his early 50s and has more to say than you might think and it’s not all about his band or related to music. Politically he sits (probably) on the left of Labour. If he was Scottish he would be pro-independence but not a big fan of the SNP. I’m not sure he wants a revolution but he would definitely like people to be a bit nicer to each other.
So, why does he do it? Tweet, I mean? Is he ‘maintaining a presence’? Mr Barrow strikes me as the kind of chap who might think the idea of that as pretty wanky. And yet, there he is. Opining. Retweeting. Liking. Engaging.
Jah Wobble is closer to my age, a bit older. He’s more likely to post clips of himself chatting, looking nowadays like a particularly intense santa. He shares with Geoff Barrow the everyman essence - opinions on the footy, on the state of the country etc and is also happy to support the strikers at the moment. Perhaps he’s found an easy way to keep the online presence present. Both men have a kind of casual pub chat style, two fellers thrown together at the bar for five minutes, happy that neither of them are raging nazis even though they support different teams. But actually not having to leave the house.
Pauline Black, singer with the Selecter and an O fuckin BE is busy. There she is in a photo she posted getting her badge from Charles wotsisname (probably in the same room Ngozi had her hair tweeked by Lady Horsey recently). If she’s not gigging with the ever lasting Selecter she’s doing Good Works. Her Twitter feed is just info about her and her doings. As a ‘platform’ it’s essentially a social and professional diary.
With over 4 million followers Cher’s posts seem remarkably personal. A mention for her mom’s death on her way to hospital. An admission she can’t sleep. Tooth pain. A little go at Trump here and there. And her advert for her eponymous perfume. She reads the Guardian and seems to be fairly right on. I think she’d get on with Geoff Barrow. In one tweet she casually mentions she talked to Diana’s son. I think she means ‘Arry and is humble bragging about it. But she’s Cher and she’s famous enough to talk to any cunt without losing her shine. She is also phenomenally busy. This is why young people can’t make it in pop. Retire! Have a rest. Make some room. You’re old.
Part of the fun of tracking down old cunts on Twitter is to figure out if they are writing the tweets themselves or if they have a team. David Crosby’s Twitter definitely feels like him. He is also, apparently, part of the Hollywood liberal elite and another one who doesn’t need to retain a presence online. Nevertheless, he retweets a man criticising The Doors live recordings because they didn’t use a bass. So I suppose he agrees. That’s a long time to hold on to that trad-fad bias, David. Let it go. Bass is often twenty computerised synths these days and the kids are still dancing.
It’s a very deep pit, is pop-Twitter. From Paul Weller (who doesn’t dirty his fingers) to Liam Gallagher (who won’t shut it) to Eno who can’t help promoting whatever the latest technological innovation he’s bumped into it’s probably more informative to see which old cunt isn’t on it. Who doesn’t need it, who can’t do it (because there is a sort of art to writing tweets that don’t sound like a vicar or a needy child) and who gets others to do it for them. As a promotional tool, part of the arsenal that includes anywhere else you can write a paragraph in the hope someone will notice - you still with me? - I don’t think it’s much use. As a way of curating, presenting your taste to the world, it’s quite effective. But would I buy something just because the artist has good taste? I’ve never bought a Primal Scream record so that should answer that.
Give it a try. Chances are, the dirty brown muck coating Twitter’s original fresh and cheeky sheen will get thicker and the experience will become even more pointless soon, unless you are a masochist. But for the moment, there are still clues to how the frayed edges of old popsters indicate whether they still have a smidgeon of whatever it was that attracted us to them in the first place.
Would Starsky and Hutch Tweet