This week a radio broadcaster quoted Bob Dylan: “A man is successful when he gets up in the morning and does exactly what he wants to do.” Or something to that effect.
At the time I thought this ironic as an old friend knew Dylan, due to her then husband being one of Dylan’s entertainment attorneys. Americans, apparently, have attorneys rather than lawyers. Anyway, she told of attending a meeting between the two in a roadside diner to lockdown a tour, outlined on the back of a menu.
Upon signing the draft Dylan held onto the attorney’s pen and asked if he could keep it. Of course the request was granted. When he rose and leant over to kiss my friend goodbye, his jacket fell open to reveal an inside pocket bulging with pens. Back then, she claimed, Dylan was living in a trailer with Doberman dogs. Strange success.
All this got me thinking about creativity, how the process works for artists and how it gels with regular life. Or not. Last month I touched on this, amongst a host of music related subjects with one of Australia’s most talented, singer-songwriters...
He had booked a taxi late one night from an inner-west residence. Overhearing his host's farewell at the gate I gleaned he was a songwriter and we soon fell into easy chat about the music industry and the most beneficial conditions for writing.
I wondered if he had a set routine like Nick Cave who heads to an office each morning to work on writing and music projects. “Aww, often I get inspired when I’m hung-over,” he chuckled. Conversely, I offered how my best inspiration arrives after a deep sleep.
What did he think of creative lovers, I asked, is there any productive benefit in those sort of relationships. “Sometimes,” he replied, “but I reckon they can also be really counterproductive.” The subtext being, I figured, that creative types often have peculiar routines and intense personalities to match. History bears this out when one investigates the private lives of many successful artists.
Finally, after 30 minutes we approached his destination and I inquired of his current projects back in London. “Well, I’m producing...(megastar's)...new album but I can’t tell the press about it.” “Why not?” I asked. “Surely that’s an incredible achievement for a young fella.” “Well, if the album somehow tanks,” he explained, “you really don’t want to be associated with it.” Fair enough.
As he paid the fare I asked about his band, of which he has two. The best known is Empire of the Sun and here he is, alongside another brilliant Aussie singer-songwriter, Luke Steel of Sleepy Jackson. My passenger, Nick Littlemore, is the one with dark hair.