Back in 2004 I went to a Bill Hicks tribute night in a pub in Temple Bar. They showed a couple of Hicks’s recorded stand-up shows as well as some documentary and interview material and we all sat – on the ground, mostly – and watched and laughed. I don’t keep a diary but I’ll occasionally note down something that has an impact on me. That night I wrote one sentence: “Play from your fucking heart!”.
A significant thread of Hicks’s material stemmed from his love of music and his disgust at the cynically marketed stuff that is presented as music in the mainstream. He screamed that sentence with utter conviction and it shook me. I couldn’t sit back and chuckle smugly, as I could when he vilified people in advertising or politicians. This was me, as a musician, that he was raging at.
I read a post today by another great cultural commentator with a love of music, Seth Godin. He urges us, with less of Hicks’s white heat but with no less passion, to Sing It. “If,” he writes, “you’re going to go to all the trouble of learning the song and performing it, then SING IT. Sing it loud and with feeling and like you mean it.”