It's said that Ludwig van Beethoven, mad and deaf, had to be turned around to see the applause of the audience at the first performance of his Ninth symphony; it is a poignant example of Art really being created for its own sake, written over decades, never to be heard by its composer; if you cried, you know you'd fill a lake with tears.
Biographies have revealed that he was stone mad, as well as stone deaf, how could he not be? His diaries read, Monday: engaged housekeeper, Monday afternoon, dismissed housekeeper; Tuesday morning: engaged housekeeper, Tuesday morning, dismissed housekeeper, just couldn't get the staff, those days - I know how he felt, it has been a long time since I have been even content with the efforts of anyone I have engaged to do anything for me, and if I ever was, it was only because I was stupider then than I am now.
Outside his muses, Beethoven's relationships were shit, nobody really knows who Elise was and his closest known relationship was up and down, one-sided, with his nephew, he infuriated friends and patrons alike and sank, eventually, into tragic, lonely deafness. Doesn't matter a fuck, at least not to us - sonatas, quartets, concerti, symphonies, opera, among the greatest ever to be pulled from whoknowswhere and written down, sometimes sixteen lines at a time, for the rest of us to hear, to weep and wonder at, the quality of genius, troubled, ailing, non-conformity bursting out of the shadows, outshining wretched normalcy, provoking, captivating and enchanting the Earthbound.
I listen to the Beach Boys now and again, normally in the Summer - Little Deuce Coupe, I Get Around, Barbara Ann, Help Me Rhonda; Fun, Fun, Fun and on into the sublime God Only Knows, Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villains; perfect pop songs, albeit snippets of white, verging on redneck Americana; Chuck Berry, sanitised in four-part harmony, carsangirls, loveanmarriage, California girls and beach parties, all summer long......Before he became too much for himself and disappeared into bed, sandpits, drugs and therapy, Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys' composer, arranger, and producer, pissed all over everybody, including the Beatles, crafting his pet sounds into popular songs and albums rated as among the best ever. Ever.
Jools Holland, however, is rubbish. He suits the BBC, though, what with his clunking, faux Edwardianism, his midget suits with too many buttons and pockets and his arse-clenchingly embarrassing interviewing style, ladeezangennulmen; he wasn't even the main man of his original band, Squeeze, a no-account bunch of Cockney wankers, still, sans Jools, performing their handful of miserable chart-toppers, in tiny concerts, unplugged, at any opportunity. Christ alfuckingmighty, bad enough we endlessly revisit the 'sixties - although there were hugely important societal changes in that overfluffed celebrity decade - the 'seventies and 'seventies 'ensembles don't bear thinking about. Squeeze and Jools Holland, who the fuck are they?
I don't know many people but I must have known a good half-dozen who could play better barrelhouse piano than Holland - and as for his R and B Orchestra, well, you wouldn't go and see them if they were playing in your back garden. Jools sings, but he shouldn't, he has no voice. He's like a Bruce Forsyth-lite, for our times, doing duets with the proper stars, only he can't sing or dance, like Brucie does. Rock icon, Carol Vorderman, was on the show, tonight, often it's the bints from AbsFabs, R and B legends like Krishnan Guru Murty, off Channel Four News, a charmed circle of Celebrity shits, drinking our money and cheering any old rubbish, as though any of them gave a fuck about music. Time it was scrapped and Joolsie sent off to his wardrobe studies, producer Mark Cooper sent to work on the Archers. There have been seriously important artists on the show, for sure, - although Seasick Steve isn't one of them - but Holland is an intolerable, smirking, over-promoted prick and the format - of us watching liggers, media whores and Z-list cclebrity cocksuckers cheering to order - makes tabloid the occasionally excellent. Who says that this little tosser must be the vehicle through which popular music is presented, this isn't intelligent music broadcasting, this is Goddamned fucking Hobbitry.
Brian Wilson was on the Jools show tonight and he shouldn't have been. Fronting his own Beach Boys tribute band, a slew of session men, singing all the parts and playing most of them, Wilson perched on a stool, gutty and goitred, playing nothing, barely singing, waving his arms like a loony at the mental hospital long-term residents' Christmas Party, making wavey gestures with his fingers, in time to Good-good-goo-ood-Vibrations, an offence against Man and God. Lord, how the studio crowd loved it.
It doesn't matter, much, that Bob Dylan grunts and wheezes his way through his own repertoire; instrumental flawlessness, sophisticated arrangements and heavenly harmonies were never his stock-in-trade, on the contrary, swift Chaos, unrehearsed, wrought his ensemble meisterwerks, often first takes, recorded live and people, maybe too young to know any better, still visit his dreary concerts, it doesn't matter, man's a legend, people have bootlegs of his kettle boiling, his dog barking. In concert, Paul McCartney plays Beatles' songs much better than did the Beatles, and generally that's saying something. The Rolling Stones do what they've always done, play a load of old dross, illuminated by selections from their two or three exceptional albums, nobody overvalues the Stones, just as long as they get to hear Keef Richards riffing in open-G, like he was a bluesman, or something.
But Brian Wilson, tonight, a madman in an empty room full of heartless strangers; a third-rate, jive-talking emcee, who believes that his being there, gobbing, dignifies the unforgiveable, is all; and one of the very few musical classics of our times is trashed by its composer. Watch it and weep.