Manchester-Saturday Afternoon

So we’re at this hotel in Salford and Tony starts talking about the Sex Pistols.

I’d like to tell you I remember the name of the organization, but I don’t.  A non-profit housing group, with 8,000 units in Salford, across the river, and a tiny river it is, from Manchester.  The group has paid Tony to give his perspective on the CITY!

Well, I think it was something like that, but I’m not sure, because after the introduction Tony took off on a whirlwind tour of the region’s history sure to make the most highly educated American feel ignorant.  References were made back to the industrial revolution.  To the formation of the state of Israel.  To the IRA bombing of the city.  And then music.

Yes, Tony attributed the renaissance of Manchester to music.  The punk-influenced acid house music that swept the region after Tony introduced the Sex Pistols on TV.  Seems that every godforsaken Mancunian with no future suddenly saw an opportunity to express himself and started to PLAY!  The music didn’t start here, but it GREW here.

And as Tony’s walking us through the creation of the Hacienda and the girl who O.D.’ed on Extasy on its dance floor it’s like being in a living movie.  Better than "24 Hour Party People" because this is coming from the horse’s mouth.

Tony dropped the names of politicos and real estate developers that were foreign to me.  A town official not knighted because he bucked the system, and a lawyer who believed in Tony and the Hacienda’s mission if Tony would just SHUT UP!

It suddenly made sense.  What had happened here.

Life never got this depressing in the eighties in the U.S.  We were all MTV happy, getting ours in the Reagan years.  But in Manchester, people with dead end futures wanted to be happy, wanted to have fun, and Shaun Ryder and Tony and the rest of the troops were the pied pipers, the benevolent dictators, the PROVIDERS!

Tony had been to New York and felt that he wanted to establish a club like Danceteria in Manchester, for the PEOPLE!  The MPs hated the Hacienda for the drug use and the proprietors never made any dough, since everybody was fucked up on drugs instead of drinking, but for a while there, that’s where it was HAPPENING!

And then Tony starts quoting New Order reviews.  And references the fact that Shaun Ryder STANDING got an ovation just a short while back at a gig.

And after quoting Shaun’s new album to me, a track about how we’re all fucked up in somebody else’s weather, stating all we need to know about global warming according to Tony, we drove to Bridgewater Hall.

We parked under the old train station.  Where there were brick arches akin to something in Roman sewers.  Positively old wave.  Jaw-dropping in the dripping history.

We spoke to a bunch of wannabes about the music business.  Those who’d taken refuge from the MySpace sponsored auditions upstairs.

And it’s stunning, Tony still believes.  In screamo.  In youth.  In music’s power to change the world.

But my perspective is different from an Englishman’s.  We don’t live in an island nation.  We’ve got the American dream.  We’re OPTIMISTIC, whereas Englishmen are PESSIMISTIC!  Tony felt it was just the reverse.  And I can see his point.  Because you get caught up in society over here, there aren’t the wide open spaces, you’re all in it together.  Whereas we’re an iPod nation, riding in our vehicle of choice throughout the countryside.  We might live in the city, but we lament the traffic.  We think something can be done about it, to FIX it, whereas in the U.K…they’re following in the footsteps of HISTORY!  They’re just a footnote.  So they might as well party and have fun.  Since the individual is essentially powerless.

But the individual in the U.S. feels ALL powerful.  Sure, he’s discriminatory, he doesn’t want to be lumped in with the mainstream, then again, neither does the Mancunian.  But unlike the Mancunian, the American MATTERS!  At least he thinks so.

But both are essentially powerless.  The Mancunian is looking for attention, playing within the rules, handing me his CD, trying to get signed to the major label.  Whereas only the losers do it this way in America.  The winners want to do it themselves.  They don’t want to be Clive Davis, they want to be BILL GATES!

Nerd culture wins in the U.S.  Whereas cool culture still drives the U.K.  In America it’s about hunkering down and doing something so fucking great that everybody will tell everybody else about it.  Whereas in the U.K. you want PUBLICITY!

Oh, you think the game is the same in the U.S., but it’s not.  THAT’S THE STORY!  How the mainstream isn’t.  How it’s not a hip-hop nation.  How only the losers listen to terrestrial radio.  How the proletariat owns the tools, and IS EMPLOYING them.  Not only stealing the majors’ wares, but trading the unsigned via IM, and going to see these same bands live, and buying merch, to evidence their identity.

Something is happening in the U.S.  And it’s not Fall Out Boy and it’s not Panic! At The Disco.  It’s not about hits.  It’s about music.  It’s about scenes, but not sell-out fashion scenes.  Whereas in the U.K. they still believe it’s the same as it’s ever been.  That there’s an INDUSTRY!

There’s no industry, there’s chaos.  And the future will be inherited not by the powers that be, but the innovators.

This is what I’m going to say tomorrow.  Along with DON’T GIVE ME YOU’RE FUCKING CD!  In an age when even Alain Levy says the CD is dead

EMI Music CEO says the CD is ‘dead’

realize it’s not about the disc, it’s about YOU!  It’s not about getting me or some big label guy to help you, but HELPING YOURSELF!

It’s the wild west in the music business.  It’s getting exciting.

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