Cameron and The Smiths

Some time ago,  former members of The Smiths, Morrissey and Johnny Marr “banned” the Prime Minister David Cameron from liking the band. Marr said: “Stop saying that you like the Smiths. No you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

I can understand their anger at the Prime Minister,but we live in a free country, and music is out there for anyone to like or dislike to purchase or not. In fact, part of the attraction of the music and other arts is this very openness. Artists cannot and should not make judgements on who can or cannot be their followers or fans.

In yesterday’s i paper, the leader of what remains of the Liberal Democrats also has issues: He claims:

David Cameron’s privileged background means he cannot be a genuine fan of the Smiths, .. Mr Farron an indie music-lover who once fronted a band, said Morrissey’s message could not possibly resonance with the Prime Minister because of his affluent, public-school upbringing in the Home Counties.

Mr Cameron chose The Smiths’ second single, the 1983 hit ‘This Charming Man’ as one of his desert Island Discs on the BBC Radio 4 programme. He has also visited Salford Lads’ Club, where the group famously posed for sleeve pictures for their album The Queen is Dead, and he quoted a famous Smith’s lyric, “There is a light that never goes out”, when he was given a T-shirt of the Manchester band.

But Mr Farron, who was born in Preston and attended the mixed Rostock Hall High School, said “I’ve aways had a problem with David Cameron saying he likes The Smiths, in particular that he likes The Queen is Dead. There’s a lie in “panic” that goes ‘… the music he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.’”

Well, Mr Farron, that is your problem. and you are entitled to your opinion, but – I hate to defend the man- but Cameron is free to like who or whatever he wishes, and if he chooses to spend money on it, then it goes into the pockets of the artists, just the same as if it came from a working class kid who struggled to find the money to pay for it.

“Writing on the music blog Ruth and Martin’s Album Club, Mr Farron added: “ don’t want to be an inverse snob, but The Smiths do not sing to David Cameron about anything in his life at al. What Morissey sings cannot possibly resonate with him. I’m a northern, working-class bloke, an angsty 1980s teenager. The Smiths say plenty to me about my life.”

He suggested that the Prime Minister could transfer his attention to apolitical alternatives, saying “Even fairly avant garde or ground breaking stuff like the White Stripes, Cocteau Twins or Blur aren’t setting out a manifesto or representing anyone or anything. There isn’t an ideology simmering away there. They aren’t speaking of their particular life experiences, offering a persona sense f belonging to those who share that identity and that’s absolutely fine – and for what it’s worth, I would have no complaints if the PM liked any of them, indeed, he has my blessing.””

Nobody needs anyone else’s blessing for their personal likes or dislikes. And after all this he completely undermined his position by ending with:

“Mr Farron reviewed the gnats rap group N.W.A.’s debut album Straight Outta Compton for Ruth and Martin’s Album Club website. He praised the energy of the song “F*** Tha Police” but admitted: “I should point out that much as I admire Eazy E., Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, the Liberal Democrats take a rather different position to them on law and order.”

Sitting here typing I can see my stack of CD’s. They include Hildegard of Bingen, Pachebal and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I’m not a practicing Christian. By the reasoning of Farron should I ban myself from listening to this? I can’t pretend I ever picked cotton or went to jail, so perhaps I should throw out my Johnny Cash albums. I’ve never been a heavy drinker, so out goes Kris Kristofferson and Tom Waites. I’m not black, so there goes another pile of music. I love Balkan Brass, but have nothing much in common with them, so out they go. In fact, as a woman perhaps I should get rid of all the music by men, which will virtually eliminate my collection.  In fact, I cannot think of a single album that truly represents the complex, confused person that I am, so it seems by the rules of Farron I should stop listening to music altogether.

But maybe that’s the real point of music, and of art in the wider sense. It takes us out of ourselves. It helps us see through the eyes and ears of others. It helps us think, and empathise, but especially, to escape. It makes us better, more considerate people. and that applies even to Conservative Prime Ministers

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