By Hans Ebert
I was watching a recent show where Jimmy Fallon was interviewing Robert DeNiro. At least, he was trying to. Fallon was his usual jovial self, but DeNiro didn’t look so much awkward, but actually bored by it all. It took a while for him to thaw and promote his latest project, but the overall tedium of this actor who’s done it all having to still do the talk show circuit just screamed out to me.
Boredom, or to put it more correctly, being bored with the vast majority of people one meets or has known for years is upon many of us- suddenly-and it’s hard to shake. Perhaps it’s always been there, and has been a latent dose of realisation.
Watching DeNiro and the hyper Fallon, one couldn’t help thinking of some of the actor’s early work like “Mean Streets”, “The Godfather”, “The King Of Comedy” etc etc and now being reduced to being a formulaic “Focher”. No wonder he seems bored these days.
On the same show was Pharrell Williams. Perhaps it’s having met him when with the inconsistent N.E.R.D and before that, the Neptunes, who remixed an appalling version of “Sympathy For The Devil”, which, apparently, Keef nixed. Maybe it’s just too much Happiness and the copyright infringement case, but he just seemed another Yesterday’s Man. And boring. But he’s not. I had to be reminded how he has embraced all forms of creativity including being a highly creative businessman. Listening to him speak, he was inspiring. How he discovered young music student Maggie Rogers, and just how emotional he became listening to her incredible music showed that his heart is in the right place.
Pharrell Williams is hardly boring, and nor is he bored. The man is so timeless and ageless one forgets that he’s now 43. But as the song says, “Thinking young and growing older is no sin”.
Being involved these days in the marketing aspect of horse racing in Hong Kong with the other foot still firmly planted on the music side of the fence, like some Eureka moment, I am seeing just how boring most people are. Speak to one hardcore racing person and you’ve spoken to them all. They’re one dimensional. Their universe is tiny. Their attempts at conversation cover the same empty terrain. They complain constantly about their industry, but they’re still there clinging onto their gigs, because, though Jimmy Ruffin told us about What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted, no one really knows what happens to extremely boring people and where there’s a place for them.
It’s like the scene from “The Lonely Guy” where Steve Martin and Charles Grodin talk endlessly about how a homeless person is never bald and how bald people should not have to pay the same money for a haircut as someone with a full head of hair.
Ahhhhh, yes boredom. Like mistaking good sex for love, at least for this person, it’s also been mistaken for intelligence and excitement- having someone who can be inspiring while also being perspiring. But when the lights are finally switched on and looking back, all that’s there is empty baggage. There was never a Guinevere or even a Mother Superior who jumped the gun. It had been more wasted time.
Looking back only results in regrets, but that short interview with Pharrell Williams said so much- how much no matter how painful, we cannot afford to carry people. They weigh you down. We cannot be around negativity. It rubs off on you. Dreamers are fine as long as they haven’t lost all sense of reality and continue to dance with the fairies.
Having worked with some musicians from Australia recently, I realise now to keep following your instincts. There are some amazing musicians in the land Down Under- young, creative, with time to learn- but there are also the old schoolers still stuck in the Eighties with the Memphis Blues again and talking about John Farnham. Hanging out with them gets you nowhere. It’s another three ring circus where politeness could keep you shackled for another few years. It’s time to break away from all this. Without being rude, it’s time to switch off and move away from them all, Tonto.
As mentioned recently, now is the time to travel. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for where you are, you never will. You’ll settle for being comfortably numb while inside howling at the dark side of the moon. We need that excitement and inspiration of being with a Pharrell and, like he did, finding a young talent like Maggie Rogers who completely blows you away and shows that life is still as exciting as you want it to be.