Last night whilst surfing the five channels remaining since the death of our digi-box (another contributory to me giving up my job may also have been the cutback of television and denial of my CSI marathon evenings) I stumbled on the documentary “The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector”by Anthony Wall and Vikram Jayanti. I knew very little about Phil Spector, except that he was a music producer and had been on trial for murder. The court scenes, music and eccentricity of the man hooked me into watching the complete film.
Trial aside, I was mesmerised by the interviews with Mr. Spector, as he likened himself to Da Vinci and Gallileo in his work. His confidence wasn’t that of bravado, but a more powerful unwavering belief in his own talents. Whilst he admitted that he never expected positive receptions from other people, he didn’t feel this was a reflection on his own talents but compared himself to Galileo trying to convince people the world wasn’t flat. I don’t doubt this impermeable self-belief has contributed greatly to his success. He expected criticism as part of creating art, but I get the distinct feeling that he was perhaps his hardest critic and not influenced by other people’s thoughts. In response to Paul McCartney reworking the “Let it Be” album and removing all of Spector’s arrangements he calmly stated “he got me mixed up with somebody who gives a shit.” And I’m inclined to believe him.
Talking about his time in high school, he mentioned that the graduating theme was “Dare to be different” and he believes only he challenged anything and actually achieved this. It is evident that Mr. Spector carved out his own path and was himself whether others liked him or not. His reputation for violence, tantrums and manipulation has earned him a reputation for being very difficult. He dismisses claims that he is difficult and explains he actually likes to be left alone, and if he is left alone he can’t be difficult with anyone, can he?
I think many people don’t dare to be different, or do so only within the realms of acceptability and how often do we hold our tongue for the sake of diplomacy and tact? I’ve often envied those who can speak their mind and stand by their convictions regardless of who agrees with them. Often, the discomfort of disapproval keeps us in line. This makes interactions on a daily basis amiable but in the long term fear of discomfort often inhibits us from getting in touch with our true desires.
I don’t want to deliberately upset anyone for the sake of it, and I’m not sure I have the self confidence of Mr. Spector, but I was inspired at his ability to strip away the world around him and focus on his pursuits and achieve. I wonder if I will be able to find more confidence in what I do by pursuing ventures of my own interest or if I will get feasted on and deterred by others? Can I be mentor, critic and friend when it comes to my work and can I eventually live my life impervious to the opinions of everyone else around me? I suppose only time will tell.