A short while ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron declared himself a long term Smith’s fan when he chose the bands hit This Charming Man on Desert Island Discs. When news of this got back to the bands guitarist Johnny Marr, he reacted by claiming to “ban” him from liking the band on claims that they were “not his kind of people”. So, can you pick and choose your audience in this way?
Well, no, quite frankly is the obvious answer – especially since David Cameron has claimed he will “Defy Johnny Marr’s Smith’s “ban”. This being said, and despite being quite amusing in an almost childish way – this issue and question really runs deeper than this…
Music & The Class System
What Johnny Marr & David Cameron are displaying, is a perfect example of how the old fashioned class system is still very much deeply rooted into some areas of British society. The Smiths, as a band, very much represented working class Manchester, and the political and social elements of what mattered to them. This is a tail of post industrial decline, socialist ideology, and resentment for the ruling class. However, as much as I’m sure these emotions and sentiments were designed to change the world – the fact remains that music has the ability to transcend class, race, and various other social boundaries. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you listened to a song, found your own meaning in it, and then found it was about something completely different? Either way, you probably weren’t worrying too much about what the writers class background was.
The irony in all this, is that Johnny Marr, like many other Rock N’ Roll legends from a humble background – is now essentially classless. I’m sure I could easily get a backlash of nasty comments for saying this, however, here it goes.. He might like to think he’s still working class and a man of the people, but the reality is – he is now part of the social elite, with a bank balance not too dis-similar to Cameron’s. In-fact, he probably has more in common with Westminster, than Greater Manchester these days!
Anyway, my point is – the beauty behind music is the fact that no matter what your background or beliefs, and no matter what a songs true meaning is, the only real meaning is what it means to you. And on that note, I will leave you with some words from John Lennon: “Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.”