Skin Deep 217

 Let me quote a paragraph at you from Shawn Barber’s Memoirs – not because I’m desperate to chew up my column inches, but because it’s important:

‘Tattooing is, by far, one of the most humbling, expansive and difficult art forms. A process and craft that shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s immediate permanence is overwhelming. What’s interesting is the lack of ethics many carry when it comes to tattooing. It’s a serious occupation. Thousands of hopeful tattooists dive into the process with reckless abandon, claiming to be the next best thing and pioneer of what’s yet to be. The reality is quite different.’

Back when I had hair – oh look, I still have, unlike many around here – and was kicking up dust in a band, this statement would have gone over my head. Now I understand it. Back then, and we’re talking the better part of the decade that was the late ’80s and early ’90s, I probably wouldn’t even have read it. In my head, I was going flat out to be the greatest the world had ever seen. Maybe I should have rehearsed more. Maybe I should have put more hours in than there were in a day. There are dozens of reasons for not setting the world on fire, but because I was into it (and I’m talking big time), I thought I knew it all. Foot to the floor, blinkers on and be careful the door doesn’t hit you in the ass on the way out.

Luckily, music is hardly as permanent as a tattoo. No damage done except to my ego. Having spent the best part of a week at the Paradise Gathering in Colorado with the world’s elite, Barber’s statement never rang more true. More rehearsal hours have gone on behind the scenes to make those guys as world class as they are. Not drinking, watching TV, or talking about how great they will be, but real work. Work that matters, not work for the sake of it. Metaphysically, those guys have been building their artist houses one brick at a time… and it shows. Barber’s words ring true whatever it is you’re trying to achieve in your life.

I’m no life-coach guru, but let me leave this truth lying on the floor at your feet as something I’ve learned as the years have turned my aforementioned hair 50 shades of black and grey – I always kind of assumed that people would thirst for knowledge and understanding. But they don’t. They thirst to know things that support what they already believe. Once you grasp the fundamentals of that, life gets one hell of a lot easier to manage, and if you’re smart, leaves you with the time to work on being as great as you think you could be.

Hmm. That wasn’t much of a fun editorial this month was it? But it was important.

Talking of Paradise, it’s been a long time since I was in America. Aside from it being bigger than I remember (that’s saying something), despite our similarities, we really are totally different cultures. Aside from customs, homeland security and passport control, which is a business so serious even Jack Bauer would look like he was taking a break, the customer service out there is amazing – even something as simple as buying cheese is met with a smile. I wouldn’t mind people working in stores over here being a bit more like that. Ironically, I wouldn’t mind paying for it either. (For you American readers, the irony is that we don’t. Understand?) Anyway, swanning around like the world owes you anything at all with an attitude to match when all you’re doing is selling crisps ain’t good.

Which, I believe, is where we came in. In through the out door and all that…

Back Issues