Skin Deep 213

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to write for Rolling Stone. At 43 – maybe 44 – I’m not that old, but I’m still talking the early ’80s when this dream kicked in and it never really went away. Until sometime in the last 12 months.

What I really wanted was to drive a magazine that was capable of anything, one that could throw anything in the grinder and the readership would get it (99 percent of the time) so long as you stayed true to the source material. Turns out that’s exactly what I got, but it’s not called Rolling Stone anymore, it’s called Skin Deep. I’m not sure what they did with Rolling Stone, but it’s the shadow of the magazine it used to be – and I don’t simply mean in it’s production, but in everything right down to its stance on the world.

There’s not a lot I can say about that publication that hasn’t already been said, but (I’m going a really long way around towards saying something here – stick with it) on the grapevine, I quite often hear the comment ‘no rock stars’. I know what this means. Basically nobody wants to work with an artist who is a dick… and that’s right. There’s no room for anybody to swank around thinking they’re better than everybody else. But rock stars? All the ones I’ve ever known worked like freaking dogs to get to the top. Sure, there’s some dicks in the mix, but take a look around. I’ve never heard of a rock star who you couldn’t say they’d got there for a reason, but then again, my point of reference is some way back. Seems to me that these days, everybody is called a rock star because the marketing people tell you they are. Rock is rock. Pop is something else entirely.
Pop tells you everything is OK in the world. Rock tells you that everything is not, but you can do something about it. That’s the difference, but somehow running an advert with ‘no pop stars’ in your text really doesn’t look right. In fact, it’s so wrong it makes you look like the very dicks you’re trying to avoid.

Damn. I’ve lost my train of thought now. And it was all going so well. Oh yeah… in all of the genres you could possibly work in, tattooing is quite possibly the most genuine. If you’re in Led Zeppelin, you can get away with fluffing a riff here and there, that’s part of what the art of rock is. Level the same phrase at a tattooist and it’s not so easy to get away with. If the eyes on that portrait are too far apart and the teeth look like a truck left the road and hit a graveyard, somebody is going to tell you and no amount of bullshit will get you out of it because it’s there forever and we are all only as good as the last thing we did.

Led Zeppelin don’t drop notes accidentally. They were so good at what they did that it was called art, and that’s were we’re all trying to get to, isn’t it? Me and the rest of the crew as writers and photographers, the tattooists and whatever it is the thousands of readers of the mag do all day long. All of us.

Except for Rolling Stone, who used to be the bomb, but are now quite content to live off glories that ran out maybe 20 years ago.

I like having them around because it reminds me not to be like that…

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