Surgery is now OPEN! Come on in, grab a seat and get your freak on. Dr Pop will see you now…
PROBLEM – You feel like a weirdo.
Well, frankly who doesn’t? (Hello, by the way.) I, for one, take great pride in my weirdness, having accepted and indeed embraced it after a lifetime of being called weird by dull people. I now take it as a compliment and feel rather affronted if someone assumes me to be “normal”. What is “normal” anyway? Sounds pretty freakin’ vanilla to me.
On the other hand, you may feel uncomfortable with your ‘weirdness’. You may even worry that people look at you as a “freak”. a) Happiness is ceasing to care what anyone else thinks – it’s a waste of time and you only live once and b) again, some of us would take that as a compliment. Either way, it’s time to make peace with the concept rather than attempting to change yourself. That would mean changing what is most unique and, in many people’s eyes, fantastic about you. What a shame that would be, eh?
And, what with life not being like the movies and all that, no fairy godmother (or equivalent) is likely to swoop in at the last minute and grab it back for you. So let’s learn to cherish our weirdness by looking to those who do this best. That’s right – rock stars.
Let’s face it, quite a lot of them work quite hard at PRETENDING to be weird, when actually they’re really quite tame and predictable. They’d flipping love to be a natural born weirdoid. A few of them really are a bit odd though – brilliantly so, mind – and have not only expressed this through their music and their lyrics, often with glorious defiance, but they give strength and a voice to oddbods like us, perhaps when we feel a bit isolated at school or college, or feel misunderstood at work, or at home, or even in your own head. We all have times when we don’t even understand ourselves, and the following artists relate to that quite openly.
Listen, heal and make friends with yourself, pop patients. This prescription will empower you:
CRACKING UP – THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
We’re going straight in with the outsider kings here. The Mary Chain, specifically brothers Jim and William Reid, felt so misunderstood they wrote a song called ‘Never Understand’ AND a song called ‘Never Understood’. Just to be clear, like. To those of us who shared their confusion, ambivalence and perhaps even sociopathic tendencies, their howls of feedback were akin to breathing out for the first time in years, and that’s before you even get to the lyrics, which are like spat out verses of angry Dada poetry. Yes please. But ‘Cracking Up’, a William Reid special from the album Munki, sounds defiant in its hissed lines, ‘Some said I was a freak… I am a freak,’ and the driving groove is confident and strong, rather than anguished and unpredictable. Onwards!
EELS – BEAUTIFUL FREAK
You thought I was going to suggest Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, didn’t you? Well, I’m not going to. This is not to say it isn’t a great song but for the purposes of this prescription, it’ s a no-no, my friend. ‘What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.’ This is not the message I am trying to impart. What I am trying to do is say, ‘you’re a bit weird, I’m a bit weird, and that’s bloody fantastic. Aren’t we lucky? Isn’t it a pity there aren’t more one-offs like us making the world a more interesting place, eh?’ A message not conveyed by ‘Creep’, a paean to alienation that, yes, we may well relate to and may also have its therapeutic qualities (i.e.: if that Thom Yorke from that there Radiohead feels out of place, then at least I’m in quality company) but ‘Beautiful Freak’ instead soothes our paranoid psyches, assuring us of the love that’s out there for extraordinary people like you and me (if I do say so myself). Better than pretending to be ‘normal’ and attracting as a result the wrong kind of people who will, at best, bore the shite out of you, let’s be beautiful freaks and celebrate the differences. As Eels put it so sweetly, ‘Some people think you have a problem, but that problem lies only with them…. you’re not like the others, but that’s why I love you.’ Sniffle!
INSTANT KARMA! (WE ALL SHINE ON) – JOHN LENNON
An urgent ditty of considerable power and energy, this song isn’t directly connected to our theme today but the sentiment of no longer wasting time, trying to conform to someone else’s ideal or living half-asleep is pertinent – and we all shine on – no matter who we are, what we’re like – we’ve all got the potential to be something pretty freakin’ special, but we can only do that when we’re true to ourselves. ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ demands Lennon as he pounds away at the old Joanna. ‘A superstar… well, right you are.’ Right you are. And you can be a superstar quietly or while cartwheeling down Ben Nevis, it’s up to you. The main thing is you make friends with yourself. Then, prepare to soar.
Listen to Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Nick Cave, The Raincoats, the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Björk, The Slits, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins … And look at the work of visionaries such as Vivienne Westwood, Louise Bourgeois, Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Leonora Carrington… do you think any of these artists would have made anywhere near as interesting material if they weren’t a bit, well, weird by every day standards? We celebrate the peculiarities in their work and their personas, peculiarities that, privately, will have been difficult to grow up with, that may have alienated them at school, and that ultimately made them all the more intriguing as people. They, and their work, enriches us. Thank gawd for the weirdo. And if you feel like you’re a bit of a weirdo too, well, thank gawd for that too.
Make friends with your inner oddball – don’t repress him – he won’t go away anyway, he’ll just get a bit warped and dark, and you definitely don’t want that. Plus, who are you trying to be like? People you don’t even like? Like trying to fit in with the jocks at school? This is not the path to joy. Rather, embrace the creativity and imagination that comes with your own personal sense of eccentricity, don’t worry about other people and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, express yourself, work out what you really love and then live it. It will make life a whole lot more positive – and not just your own. Shine on, my friend!
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