An open letter to Robbie Williams; his call for more political music
Dear Mr. Williams,
We hear on the grapevine that you have asked for more bands to ‘rebel’ and that there are not enough outspoken artists out there these days.
It’s an intriguing statement and one we wholeheartedly agree with- even if we know of many bands and musicians who still have the old something to say thing going on but can’t get on the radio because it’s, ironically, clogged up with Take That and fellow shampoo entertainers. (although we have a soft spot of Take That having met Mark Owen and Jason Orange and found them very down to earth and switched on people).
We are glad you are wondering about things though but it does make us think, why let everyone else do the dirty work- why don’t you do something yourself?
Robbie, you may feel like you are just a mere family entertainer, a singing clown that no-one takes seriously but we acknowledge the flashes of inspiration in your music and that you have the ability to write really good lyrics within the pop format and that you have worked with really good songwriters from the more rebellious side of the equation. In short you seem to be a lot more than a dancing bear and there seems to be a genuine tingle of passion and humanity in your soul which is all too rare in your part of the pop world.
Just because you were in a boy band it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a brain and be connected with the world- although it often helps! It’s a great start to acknowledge this but you can take it further, like we said- we dare you to try.
It seems like you know all this already as you told the Sun (of all papers) last week.
“There has not been that same spirit ever since (Britpop), I don’t think. There used to be something to rebel against. I think there is plenty to rebel against right now, especially with what is happening with the world, with how people are being treated by governments and the recession. Normally this is the time of great upheaval and great voices that rise and say, ‘No we are not fucking having this’.” But there seems to be a great apathy. Where are the Billy Braggs and The Clashes? It’s good to have a place to go and complain. Not than I’m doing anything about it, I’m in a mansion in Los Angeles. What do I know?”
At least you had the humility and sense of reality to put the bit at the end on (something that some of my generation punk heroes won’t acknowledge in their own lives) but there is no reason to feel you can’t do anything because you are living in la-la land- it doesn’t stop lots of other millionaire entertainers from doing their bit.
Of course no-one is asking you to be the Clash and no-one is claiming that there is a league table of cultural credibility. Some of the most inspiring pop records don’t have any meaning and some of the most earnest records are really boring. We were just intrigued by your comment and wondered if you wanted to have a go or if you were going help those that are trying to say something or if it was just a casual aside…
Which brings us back to our question really, instead of asking everyone else to do your dirty work- why don’t you do something?
Do you feel that people will laugh, I mean they will, they always do. Do you think no-one will take you seriously? No-one expects you to write a Crass style album- but you are a pretty good lyric writer and it doesn’t have to be sloganeering- that kind of stuff never works anyway. You don’t even have to sing a load of political songs- you got the money, you got the media space- there’s loads of ways you can get involved.
Don’t be ashamed of being the fuck puppet for the field full of middle aged ladies- that’s a cool job and one that has great importance as well, there is nothing lightweight about being the sex monkey for a generation but it’s great to see that your mind is also twitching into action. If you don’t want to do it go and fund the career of a struggling young protest singer- we know you already put money into grass roots stuff.
Or you could come and join us on a few campaigns we got lined up this summer, you’re welcome to join in and do what you like- sing a few songs, show your face or just lug some amps around, I dunno, it’s up to you.
The world is fucked up and it’s always awkward for the well off winners in the great capitalist scramble to criticise the very system that made them the shiny young kings of the new Rome but there are so many ways that you can use that space and privilege and, Robbie, we dare you try…