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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just do it

Spoke to Neil Tennant today for a Radio Four programme I'm doing about things you can learn from pop music. He worked with Dusty Springfield who assured him that she never thought about the words while she was singing them. We talked a bit about the importance of just being able to perform or write without agonising about it. It puts a question mark against a lot of critical appraisal which sets great store by the apparent level of engagement between the song and the performer. We like to think we can tell when people are being sincere and when they're just coasting but the truth is we don't know. Actors like Robert Mitchum were quite candid about the fact that they neither knew nor cared about the film or the director. They just did their stuff the same way they always had done. Judi Dench doesn't read the scripts she gets offered. She just talks to the director and if it seems a good idea she does it. Contrast that with the young actors of today who want us to believe that they've been off doing "research" in order to be able to convey the reality of their role. Spencer Tracy's advice "know your lines and don't bump into the furniture" seems funny to those people who don't know how difficult that can be.