Birthday Message from John

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I’ve never considered myself a political animal. What moves me to tears has always been most likely art; a particularly emotional scene in a movie (I even shed tears in ‘Kung Fu Panda’), or a song whose melody or harmonies cut me like a knife. Rarely, but sometimes, a book I am reading can affect me powerfully, and by that I mean not only induce sadness in me, but can make me laugh out loud. Perhaps the best release is the kind of laughter that keeps on coming until it turns to tears. The best of both (feeling) worlds. I often say, ‘I don’t like real life, I only like art’. For years I avoided newspapers, and even now, I stay away from the news channels on TV.

I’m feeling different about all this today, because ‘real life’ has come and bitten me on the butt, inspired me so to speak. I really just want to take this opportunity of getting to write a Birthday message by telling you all how strongly I feel about Barack Obama. I was recommended to read Obama’s book, ‘The Audacity Of Hope’. I downloaded it off I-tunes. The author read it himself. In my work I rely almost entirely on intuition, I don’t know much about music theory, and I don’t know how to read music. I just know what I like, what thrills me, and makes me want to weep. I’m a lightning rod in a way, rather than a musician, and as I listened to this book, I could not believe how much I liked this guy, and how much hope, literally, he was filling me with, as the virtual pages turned.

I don’t come from an artistic family particularly, although my Mom loved music and music stars. Mom’s idea of a perfect Sunday would be to take a drive around the wealthy estates in Warwickshire, and muse over which house might belong to whom. If ever we spotted a personalized car number (license) plate, we could obsess for hours over whom that car might belong to. Quite what Rod Stewart was doing in Solihull High Street that Sunday in June 1972 I don’t know, but RS 1 was spotted by both of us, and who else could it possibly be? No. That’s not an artistic family.

My mother’s father was an important man in the early life of the English Trade Unions. He came from Liverpool. I never met him. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham was present at his funeral. My own father despised the trade unions. His was a go-ahead personality who had no use for the lowest common denominator, which he believes all unions ultimately serve. Dad went down on the ship, like so many other men from the Midlands, when the British car industry sunk itself, due to unrealistic expectations and the changing economic climate.

Obama is a democrat. He believes in unions. He is also a pragmatist. Listening to him, telling his story, outlining his ideas and ideals, I could not initially believe he was a man that could become leader of the United States, and therefore, the most important man on the planet… But inside my head an idea had been planted, ‘But what if he was?…’

Like I say, I am all about instinct. It’s all about a feeling I get, for people, places… songs. Either I get it or I don’t. There’s no debate. Hopelessly naive? Possibly.

I wasn’t around for Kennedy, but I saw how excited people got about Clinton. Truthfully I was more excited about Hillary back then. Unfortunately for her, time has moved on, and whereas Bill and Hill were the future in 1992, the future now has different needs, and Obama is it. He is America, but he is also all of us. He makes me want to think politically because he is authentic in a world that has an almost total absence of authenticity. And I don’t just mean politics. Look at our TV; the reality crap, the talent show crap. Everyone is acting, saying whatever they think they got to say to get ahead.

Obama raises the bar. The speech he gave on Father’s Day brought a tear to my eye. He is a wake up call, and when America elects him to office (no, I cannot vote) it will send a fantastic signal of hope and change around the world. It will prick up the minds and ears of the most deeply rooted of America-haters. It’s a god-given opportunity.

No one is perfect, I know, and I’m not suggesting he is. I just wanted to use this year’s birthday message to let you know a little of what is going on in my mind regarding the biggest event of the coming year. For those of you who are skeptical I urge you to pick up the book I mentioned and check it out; you’ll believe a pig can fly!

Thanks everyone who sent me good wishes. It’s been an extraordinary year so far (do I ever say anything else?). It’s been hard this last few weeks losing Nick’s father, Roger. He was a very important influence of me when I was a hard-headed teenager. Seeing my oldest friend cope with his loss with such dignity and courage has been a real inspiration. I love being on the road and getting to play night after night, and seeing so much of you guys warms my heart. Thank you for staying with us, we’ll always try and make it worth your while. Thanks to my family who challenge me every day to become a better person, and to my friends who are my guides.

Love and peace,