Guest Blog: Access All Areas

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 09:53 04/12/2013

From time to time I ask for guest blogs - I never posted this one when it arrived. It seemed (just a little) absurd. But then I realised thinking something is absurd has never stopped me from posting.  Credited to CLAUDETTE LUCK, here's a piece about - well - you tell me...Real? Hoax? Embarrassing? Thought provoking? Almost all of the above?  

One thing I have learnt over many years as a rock writer is that famous people are just people when it all comes down to it. They have feelings and suffer the same pitfalls in life as everyone else.

I believe it is important for a writer to separate the career from the person. It disgusts me to see writers criticising the person instead of the music they have created.

I believe women music writers do a better job of interviewing musicians because women are naturally more in tune with their emotions. Music is essentially emotion. Male music writers are fantastic at the mechanical side of things: "how many mics did you use to record?" etc but when it comes to the raw guts of what made the music what it was and the passion behind it, women aren't afraid to get straight down to it.

I was once invited to interview a big-name star backstage at a show in Amsterdam. In the world of rock'n'roll it doesn't get much bigger than this guy. His group had just released an album that was number one all over the world.

I remember being so nervous as I walked down the poorly lit corridor and knocking on his dressing room door. My palms were so sweaty I could hardly turn the door handle. He greeted me wearing just a white towel around his waist. He was extremely fit. He was the only one left and the rest of the band had gone out partying. He was holding a bourbon, and it wasn't his first of the evening, I'm sure.

We got to talking about life in general. I made the comment that he seemed sad despite having extreme wealth and all the sex and drugs one man could dream of. Downstairs, at least one hundred groupies were waiting for him. He started to cry and I gave him a tissue from my purse. He told me that he felt endless loneliness and suffered from extreme stage fright. The only time he felt alive was when he was on stage. The rest of the time he said he felt like a failure.

When he said he wanted to snort cocaine off my breasts I let him because I felt a little sorry for him to be honest. We didn't have sex. We just talked, and drank bourbon, late into the small hours. We talked about what we had dreamed for ourselves as children and how lonely the world can be, despite outward appearances.

I was going through a bad break-up and he counselled me a little about what my next move should be.

None of this made the pages of the glossy magazine I was writing for. I easily could have turned his confessions to my editor's advantage and dined out on the front page splashes around the world for the rest of my career. I didn't do this because I am human and I like to be able to look myself in the eye when I look in the mirror.

Music writing has taken me all around the world. I freely admit that being French and with large breasts has given me a distinct advantage over my male counterparts.

If you're in a line of mostly male journalists waiting outside a hotel room for a Mick Jagger or a Neil Young or a Jim Morrison to say "ok, you, you and you" it helps to stand out.

Case in point being all I had to write was that I am French and you selected me for this blog, Simon.

I am old now and no-one remembers my writer's nom-de-plume but in my lifetime I've met people and partied in places that you wouldn't believe - from exotic yachts in the Caribbean to the Playboy mansion. One day I will write a book.

The one thing I have discovered is that no-one, no matter how rich or how famous, is exempt from misery, heartache and loneliness.

I have also learnt that stardom is an illusion. The whole industry is an illusion of image and perception. Play your cards and your image right and you, too, will be a star.

My personal pilgrimage has been a lifelong journey to get to the essence of what music is.

Music is emotion. It is life's agonies and jubilation delivered in sonic form.

Words do not do this art form justice and those who attempt to describe the force that is musical expression are brave word soldiers. Truly great music writers don't just hear the music, they feel it.

And when it comes down to feeling and expressing emotion women naturally have it over men. It's not a sexist or a feminist thing; it just is what it is.

Since moving to New Zealand two years ago I have found many Kiwi women, some hidden away in small towns, who write about music with passion, humour and honesty - this is something that is a definite strength in New Zealand.

Women in rock have a tough road in a male-dominated world and it is to these women I say with a raised glass - pouvoir de la femme!

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