Awesome Females #3

Why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh didn’t I get tickets??????????

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Fan fiction… Brian Jones & The Rolling Stones

[Fan fiction is a very rare thing for me to do, in fact I’ve only done it just the once and that is what’s published below.  I decided to post it on here because it was quite a hit at my recent writing discussion group.  Enjoy!]

the27club-brian-jones-sized

“Please allow me to introduce myself

I’m a man of wealth and taste

I’ve been around for a long, long year

Stole many a man’s soul and faith.”

Sympathy for the devil.  After a grueling five or more days of chasing the perfect, exact sound – the Stones unleashed what would open their album, titled Beggar’s Banquet.  It was 1968, the band had experienced a whirlwind of events and somewhere in the storm several stories of police allegations, controversy, drugs, sex, money and other disputes flowed out of the band’s camp.  Brian Jones, the band’s founder, become a troubled idol of the decade, the press continuously spun wild stories of his party habits and love affairs in America and Britain.  A true tragic genius who sadly fell to the wheel of his already rocky tracks…

As soon as Brian woke up the sun burnt a hole in his head.  He lifted his hand off of the scorching steering wheel to brush it through his viking blonde matted hair.  His muscles ached, his vision was still blurred.  He cleared his throat but this only greatened the bursting pain in his head.  The mustard shirt he was wearing was sticky in the heat, the deep purple velvet jacket was nowhere near as flamboyant as what it was when he brought it.  “Urrrrrrrrgh..” Brian groaned, and then suddenly jumped back in his seat.  He looked around, and realised he was sitting in the driver’s seat of a London bus.  Its shade of red blazed like plastic under the blistering sunshine.  Brian put his head in his hands, then looked up, he was in his luxurious garden of the country-house he’d recently brought.  Relieved last night didn’t take him anywhere else other than home, he sat and pondered.  

Cotchford Farm, formerly owned by Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne, sitting amongst the West Sussex countryside provided somewhat of a sanctuary for Brian after the trial and tribulations of what fame had brought him.  Since the drug bust he was lucky to have dodged prison, the judge seemingly taking some sympathy on him “for goodness sake” he said, “don’t get into trouble again or it really will be serious.”  For it wasn’t just the judge who could see Brian was in no state to survive prison mentally.  People around him at the time say he was deteriorating, his appearances at band practice became erratic and his contributions to music minimal.

What he pondered about precisely could’ve been anyone’s guess.  Maybe it was to do with the band, his worries for their change in musical direction away from their R’n’b roots, their strained relationships and their plans to tour America, which strictly required a working visa Brian would almost certainly not be granted.  Once he had managed them, pushed them, set up concerts, tours, but now, it seems, the reigns of power had dissolved in his hands, melted, to grains of sand.  Or maybe his thoughts fell mostly on Anita.  Ah yes, Anita.  A flash of pain whenever he heard her name, and now, less frequently, her voice.  Munich.  They first met.  She was on a modeling assignment and he touring with the Stones.  “I am…”  He began.  “Everyone knows who you are…”  She Interrupted, she purred, smiling, smoking.  But, Morocco.  The fight.  Screams and tears.  Bloody fists and a black eye.  That’s where she left me…

Finally the band decided to move on without Brian and made a pact to visit him at Cotchford Farm to deliver the news.  Giving Brian the choice on how to break it to the press was their last sign of respect, no hard feelings, for an old friend, who fast become a shell of the man he once was.  Despite being known to have both intense paranoia and jealousy it seems Cotchford Farm still had a handful of ‘hangers-on’, some placed there by the Stones’ manager Tom Keylock to keep “an eye on Brian.”  Despite this, the house, or more specifically, the swimming pool, was where Brian met his end.  His death certificate reading “death by misadventure”, no-one was with him in his last moments.

Any recollection of Brian’s night was dark, he reached for the cigarettes in his pocket and lit one whilst leaning his head back.  He decided to keep the bus in his garden, after all, what else was he going to do with it? He exhaled and grinned, and his laugh bellowed through the empty bus.

After Brian’s death the Stones were due to play a free concert in Hyde Park which they dedicated to Brian.  Their success from this gig and their North American tour grew stronger and stronger, before they exiled themselves to the south of France to escape the government seizing their assists due to the money they owed in tax.  Their album Exile on Main Street was mostly recorded here, however one song written mostly by Jagger, named Shine a Light, started to be written back in 1968, when Brian was still a member of the band and around the same time Sympathy for the Devil was recorded. The song is believed to be about Brian, about his detachment to the band and his substance addiction.

“When you’re drunk in the alley, baby, with your clothes all torn

And your late friends leave you in the cold gray dawn.

Just seemed too many flies on you, I just can’t brush them off.

Angels beating all their wings in time,

With smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes.”


The hypocrisy of Lily Allen’s Feminism

Not so lighthearted: Lily Allen in the video for Hard Out Here.

A few weeks back, the Andrew Marr show linked up to Lily’s set at Latitude festival but managed to fit in a quick interview before she played. The last question Marr fired at her was; “Now, Lily, you’ve famously had a real go at female pop-stars exploiting their bodies with twerking and all of that, and now I read you are going on tour with Miley Cyrus – Queen of the Twerk – what is going on?”

What is going on? Following Lily on Instagram, where she somewhat announced her plans of joining Miley on the infamous Bangerz tour, even I was a bit WTF?  My ears definitely perked up when Andrew asked that question.

And her reply? “Well, I’m not actually working with Miley Cyrus I’m going on tour with her across America and I think I’m doing about 7 dates, over 12 days? So, that’s what that’s about. She is very good at twerking, I’m not so good, but I’ve given it my best shot and failed miserably [laughs].”

Poor answer, you could’ve have done better than that Lily.. Why am I so bothered? Well, we all know Lily and her story, we’re all fans of her music, her distinctly British sound and sarcasm and a few years ago when she declared her retirement many of us were left disappointed.

Walking down the aisle and two babies later, she made a bit of a comeback – her first single? ‘Hard Out Here’, an apparent ‘feminist’ anthem aiming the spotlight on the pressures forced upon women in the media/music/film industry, with lyrics aiming to sting, like;

Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain

and

If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight ’cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own

It doesn’t take your regular Quantum Physicist to notice the over-sexualisation and got-to-be-thin ethos of women today, especially in a profession where Lily has firmly stamped her mark on, but I can forgive her for being not all that original with her comeback song, because after all, she could just be the perfect lady to prove the ridiculousness of it.

In an interview with the guardian before the release of her Sheezus album, she explained; “I’d like to think that my children’s generation won’t feel like this. Like I do. I want them to realise that not everyone can be fucking ‘hot’. Rather than attractiveness being the end prize, it should be as rewarding to be clever or funny, or, you know, have your, your ‘thing’.

To some critics Lily has taken the predictable popstar-turned-mum route, but reflecting on other singers such as Beyoncé, whom I love as much as the next girl, after having a baby girl she reversed full speed in the opposite direction with her songs and videos glaringly more sexual, surely leaving any pre-adolescent female confused on what attractiveness is and what it means. (Clue: doesn’t mean getting naked.)

Whereas Lily seemed to push things forward in this particular single, for instance; she’s not super thin in the ‘Hard Out Here’ video, but she doesn’t care (why should she?), she doesn’t reveal much of her body in it either or stand around in revealing lingerie, groping her body, bending over and this is exactly my point – she writes her own songs and is extremely talented, shes doesn’t (usually) fall back on “sex sells” and that’s what I love most about her and her sharp witticism that no other male or female single holds or has the guts hold and be open with it like she does, all whilst delivering it in her signature accent.

My problem with seeing Lily as bit of a hypocrite is when it’s clear she buckles under the same pressures she slags off to conform to them. For example, her point of having to be thin when she’s clearly slimmed down, which may sound a low dig from me but it’s not intended that way.  I know this was probably her own choice, yet I feel not giving a shit whether you’re a size 6 or size 16 and making it work – making it ‘your thing’ – would be more effective when promoting that message.

Touring with Miley was the biggest hypercriticism for me, if that hasn’t been obvious in the start of my post. Miley, despite already maintaining a good-earning level of fame from a famous father, a Disney show and even a few albums under her belt, decided that wasn’t enough and wanted that super stardom and knowing there was one way to get it, which was to get controversial and basically get naked – go figure, so she went for it. (BIG QUESTION MARK around exploiting your body Miley, something Lily doesn’t agree with.)

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Of course, this isn’t entirely Miley’s fault – it’s the way the industry works and perhaps it shouldn’t be like, like what Lily  originally complained about in Hard Out Here and other various interviews, but when I saw Lily onstage with Miley, arguably an artist who embodies all that is wrong with that sexist industry, and is showering her in copious dollar bills whilst she bends over and twerks into oblivion – that’s when I questioned Lily’s rants of inequality and feminism.  Was all of this just a bit contrived, or was she just taking the piss?

Does Lily’s feminism believe she doesn’t need to shake her ass because she’s ‘got a brain‘, or being a woman is flipping inequality on it side, if your body can get you where you want to be then fuck it, use it to your advantage…?

All of which becomes murkier still with my next point, although I’m a bit uncomfortable making it, but has some of this feminist/inequality confusion leaked into some of Lily’s songs? Before now her quirky hits stood strong and unscathed, because ultimately the recognition Lily has received (and still gets now) hasn’t solely came from her being an attractive female (she writes damn good music too.) However, when I heard ‘As Long As I Got You’ and more precisely the lyrics:

I had that awful feeling, that I needed help
My life had lost this feeling, but you saved me from myself

Clearly a lovely song dedicated to her husband that openly admits she is dependent on her husband to keep her in control, but hold on when was Lily ever truly out of control? She’s talked about her partying ways and admitted to drug-use, but let’s be realistic – who at that age hasn’t delved into some hedonistic ways?  Or, more importantly, who at that age managed to have a ‘good time’ but still managed to carve a well-respected music career for themselves?  (Not many.)

I’m not saying feminists can’t fall in love and refuse to have children, if anything women should have the right to feel the full spectrum of being a woman and all the roles that it brings like being a wife, going through pregnancy, birth and being a mother.  I’m happy for Lily, for her relationship with her husband and creating a family, she’s worked hard but it’s almost disappointing to throw all of this down, all of her own efforts, to a person other than herself (because it was all down to her, only her, to how far she has come.)

Falling to pressures you’ve set up to burn is like extinguishing your own fire – for someone like Lily, who made it here through talent alone and not through her latest raunchy music video, and who we all adore, despite her weight having its ups and downs because a tiny waist wasn’t what drew us to her in the first place – by sticking to your guns Lily, you won’t miss your target.


Awesome Females #2

Karen O has always been awesome, since she exploded out of New York and was spat all over the world with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs she’s just done her own thing and not given a shit.  We’ve not had a true punk-rock mental goddess arguably since Patti Smith (who also makes my awesome female lists) and is probably the world’s most famous and most-liked front-woman to an alternative band to date (very hard mould to break, a very high glass ceiling to smash.)  Now a married lady, she may have calmed down somewhat, particularly in the song she wrote for Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ titled the Moon song.  She’s got a solo album out which sounds like it might be all in the style of Ms laid-back O, but that doesn’t mean it sucks – I need to buy it.  I love Karen for her wildness and the fact her gender doesn’t even come into it for her and why should it?  She is the kind of girl I want as a friend and to do whiskey shots with.


Awesome Females #1

A new series including all the women I find inspirational and just so fucking cool.  Starting with Beth here, who I discovered somehow, through Instagram, I think.  I know she’s mates with SoKo the cat, who I was following first, although a bit annoying in the aspect she’s addicted to Instagram and posts-all-the-god-damn-time, whereas Beth is the cooler, Brit-side sister.

Despite being critically acclaimed a few years ago by much of the UK press (including NME and the guardian) and appearing on Later with Jools Holland Beth didn’t seem to go on to achieve the well-known status which I think she deserved.  Nevertheless she still seems to be enjoying herself through Instagram posts, (including a selfie with Selma Blair who she apparently shot a movie with last year) and is recording new music right now.