Monday, December 08, 2008

Football, music, life - not in that order

In the last few days, music concerns have become all too real; my wife’s music company has gone into administration. If you know the industry you’ll know who these independent marketers and distributors are. It’s left a lot of people her included without a livelihood as the festive season approaches, not to mention left a lot of labels in debt with far less access to music buyers (yes, they still exist). The company had been running out of options for months due to the whole business being strangled for credit, including the likes of E-UK, Woolworth’s distribution arm that supplies all the mainstream outlets like Asda. This is just the start of the whole industry’s shake-up, remove the layers, have fewer companies getting the stuff to the market, an environment that has to become more competitive if it wants to avoid all bands going down the route of distributing their own material but getting more money from the live circuit.

It’s all change for me too. I finished my job on an online industry website on Friday and am now heading to some old-school laying out and subbing on a financial title everyone has heard of when you get those ‘who do you work for’ questions. Partly due to the ridiculous three-month notice policy of the old place, I am taking up a new job when resources (ie, people) are never going to be more scrutinised and then justified as they will be now. That makes the whole first few months a challenge, but I am feeling particularly straight-headed at the moment and it’s in those moments I tell myself I’m ‘up for it’.

Lastly, I joined in some Guardian Comment is Free democratising ‘debate’ last week, then immediately felt tainted by the experience. It was in reaction to a shameless piece of exaggeration by Guardian football writer Daniel Taylor about City fans still singing the Munich song (yes, it did happen at the derby last week but not on any large scale or with any frequency except in the ears and eyes of a writer with an agenda). You rush to get your perspective in – myself as one of the 47,300 there or the millions of others from the armchair. Then you realise this is just school playground, tit-for-tat ‘he did it first’ bullshit; Blues listing their grievances, Reds likewise, Liverpool fans chipping in with their angles, blah-blah-blah. Just middle-class footy fans having their say, any ‘conflict resolution’ impossible as this stuff can’t be banned. That same free speech that means a football fan can sing all manner of unspeakable shit about against the person the same as him in the other side of the pen.

That’s where football is this day – a nihilistic reciprocation of catcalls where the fans seem more concerned about their image in the eyes of the other team. That’s why 90% of United’s chants in the derby were about City – wind us up, not big themselves up. And this isn’t just a local pride thing. Typical example in yesterday’s game – Villa 1-0, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; Everton equalise, they sing ‘Who are ya?’ Villa back in front, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; last-gasp Toffee leveller, they sing ‘Who are ya?’; shock horror Villa still get a winner, they sing ‘Who are ya?’. Truly there is no glory in this tedious reflecting back onto the similar other.
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