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.


  1. Anonymous8:16 pm

    I don't blame Neil Finn. It's weird how you can sell more tickets as a band than as a solo act, even though you'll basically be doing the same show. Take Mike Scott - one of his solo tours went so badly that he had to sell his house. He then 'reforms' the Waterboys, with no other original members, and suddenly he's selling plenty of tickets again.

  2. Anonymous9:47 pm

    Oops - this should have been a comment on the Crowded House post!

  3. Anonymous10:48 am

    A case of: Those who can do, those who can't theorise about it at great length.

  4. Looking forward to hearing the show. Thinking back over 20 years now, I'm fairly sure it was the combination of lyrics and melody that piqued my interest in PSB initially and that has carried through until this day. As a fan, I 'think' I'm able to distinguish between those lyrics written based on experiences and those that are simply telling a story. Of course, singers of other peoples lyrics must find it much harder to be invested in what they're actually singing about, and this must equally apply to actors. Any idea when the show will air?