Today would have been Marc Bolan’s 66th birthday, and coincidentally I’ve been reading Tony Visconti, The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy. Bolan doesn’t come off especially well in this book; stardom seems to have gone to his head, turning him into a raving prima donna who made unreasonable demands, paid his band a pittance, and generally made life miserable for those around him.
This is a tad disappointing, but doesn’t bother me all that much; I long ago gave up on the idea that an artist had to be a nice person for you to enjoy their work. If you went through your records, books, and movies and starting weeding out everything that involved a disagreeable human being, I fear you’d be left with very little. And a lot of that would be crap. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there’s an inverse relationship between an artist’s likability and the quality of their work — Mr. David Bowie, fr’instance, is a complete mensch in Visconti’s portrayal — I just don’t think the two have much to do with each other.
And really I don’t know why we care so much. Maybe Lou Reed is a flaming asshole, or maybe he’s a gruff but lovable crank with no patience for the suffering of fools — what does it matter to me? I don’t have to hang out with the cat, I just have to play the records. They say Charlie Manson is evil, and I don’t doubt it for a minute, but does that mean I can’t find him entertaining?
Hmmm…well, I didn’t set out today to write a blog entry that mentioned Marc, David, Lou and Charlie, but now that I’ve done it, I have to say it feels pretty good. I feel like I’ve earned my cocktail, so over and out for now.