James Milne, aka Lawrence Arabia, sent a lovely Christmas letter yesterday to fans on his official mailing list. I think it says good things about both James himself and about the relationship artists can have in this day and age with those who follow their work:
Being an "artist" can be like travelling across rough seas looking for Terra Australis Incognita. You don't know what's out there at the end – you're hoping it might be paradise – but there's a damn good chance it might just be an icy wasteland or a desert populated by snakes, and an equally good chance you'll drown before you get there.
So, you kind folk are like the ports along the way. Places to restock on valuable energy, inspiration and encouragement, patch up the sails and caulk the holes in the bow. Without you I would (to finally put this extended metaphor out of its misery) sink.
To all of you who've supported the cause this year by buying records, attending concerts, spending too much time on social media liking things, have come up and said hi and/or something nice and encouraging to me – thank you. Have a splendid Christmas and New Years period. Try and keep off your digital devices, read more books, (if in doubt, P.G. Wodehouse will ease your angst) go for walks in forested areas, and cook meals that involve extensive preparation and the use of mortar and pestles.
It's not the first time I've seen this sort of grace from James. Another Christmas, he was nice enough to write personally and thank me for my "patronage" through the year, via the blog and the couple of times I was able to commission live performances -- and even the writing of a song called 'I'm Sorry':
I appreciated the gesture, but even more the concept. No, not the concept of saying "sorry" (although that too -- big soz, everyone that's due it), but the idea of patronage. The word stuck with me, in the sense that there are more relevant compensations than money for doing what we do here. In particular, I think the work that Jackson and Jonathan have done with Capture has been a special thing.
I also really value our connection to music artists via my friend Renee Jones, who sells our small ads at prices that are intended to make it easy for artists to reach our readership. That's not about the commission, it's about who we want to be.
I thought about it too when I was talking recently to Jim 'Stinky Jim' Pinckney at SJD's recent show at Golden Dawn. He thanked me for my support for Sean and I pointed out, as I have above, that the ability to exercise patronage is its own privilege.
Of course, Jim does the same thing too. He's not running his Round Trip Mars label for the money, so much as for the satisfaction of helping good things happen.
And you lot, too. The readiness of so many Public Address readers to kick in when we need it has been a lovely thing.
In difficult times, it does make a difference when we can help each other out. And the benefit flows both ways, whether we're showing kindness or accepting it with the style and grace of Lawrence Arabia. Whether we're helping an artist keep working, or helping make sure someone gets a good meal tomorrow.
As usual, Public Address will go quiet for the next few weeks, but we'll still be open for visits. Capture has a holiday thread and you can consider yourself invited to say whatever takes your fancy in the comments for this post.
Merry Christmas, you all.