Time caught up with me this week and it wasn’t very nice. I’ve been meaning to empty my parents garage of all my old rubbish for years but this week it finally happened and I was left with lots of old cardboard boxes stacked 4 high in my front room.
My mum has cut out every newspaper article I’ve featured in and kept every school report and certificate of mine for the last 50 years. I know that at least 2 of those big boxes really need to be looked through and catalogued, then I think, shall I just cut out the middle man and dump them all.
I had already made that decisions when it came to my old cassettes. Looking at the boxes and boxes of cassette albums I had made 20 years ago I knew what had to be done. I’d already offered them free to good homes on social media without any takers. I’d investigated whether they might be of use to a charity based in Africa only to be told I was being daft if I thought they still listened to cassettes there.
I turned up in Llansamlet and opened the boot of the car. ‘DVD’s is it?’ said one of the lads in a high vis jacket. ‘No just some unwanted cassettes’ I said. ‘General Waste!!!’ He was only doing his job but it really hurt. I took the first 2 boxes and put them on a table for inspection and told the guy they were cassettes. I was hoping he would just take my word for it but he had to inspect for himself.
Cassette after cassette all bearing my face where taken out and examined. It took a couple of cassettes for him to realise that the person on the cassette cover was standing in front of him. I wanted to say that these where all that were left, that in their day they had sold in their thousands, that they were all available now on CD and Spotify and technology had just moved on. In the end I said nothing. I stood face down at the counter and tried not to wince when he said I could throw them into the big container with all the other rubbish.
Nostalgia is great, although not as good as it used to be but really nothing stands still in life. There’s a very funny video doing the rounds at the moment (It’s a PG so be warned) of Liam Gallagher making a cup of tea. He goes on to explain, in pretty colourful language, that in the old days when Oasis ruled the world he didn’t have to make his own tea. He would have 4 or 5 flunkies who did that for him. He puts the problem of his new found circumstances down to people downloading music and not buying his albums anymore. But the world has changed and Liam and every other old Rockstar has to change with it.
That’s why I found Chris Jagger so inspiring this week. Being the brother of one of rocks only truly global superstars can have benefits but also can harm your career. I’m sure Mick Jagger has been there for him throughout his career but Chris is a proud and talented man and has carved out his own career in music, theatre, journalism and broadcasting. The thing is he still loves his music. He’s passionate about it and will travel anywhere and everywhere to play.
I’ve known Chris for over 30 years. His connection to Wales has always been strong. One of his first collaborators was David Pierce from West Wales. When I mentioned to Chris that we had a new venue in Swansea called The Hyst that might be a good venue for him to play one of the first calls he made was to Dave asking him to join him on stage and also could he stay the night.
Chris had been difficult to get hold of recently because he has been on tour across Europe. He’d played at a lovely new venue in Amsterdam. A compete music village including a music school complete with studios, performance space and hotel which he tells me is always full. Then he had travelled on to Berlin to do some radio shows. He was particularly pleased to tell me that although he had sung in English he had done the interviews in German.
Chris was also really pleased that he had just taken delivery of a new compilation album ‘All the Best’. You could see the pride and satisfaction in his face as he unwrapped a CD. I suppose most of the songs would be on digital services somewhere in the cloud but the fans who came to see him on Thursday wanted something tangible to take away. They had photographs with the man, some took videos of his performance but most wanted a CD signed by the man himself.
As we packed down we started talking about gigs and touring and why we do it. Although musicians often grumble about setting up and packing down, about the long miles travelled and the hotel rooms which all look the same it really is those couple of hours of delight when you play your music and people react and dance and tell you how much they enjoyed the gig.
One thing I did notice, although his new CD came with a bonus 45 Minute DVD there wasn’t a cassette version of the album to be seen. In some ways it made my trip to the tip just a little easier to bear.