Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Thursday 20 February 2003

Mount Juliet.


Another grey day.

Already this morning business - two signed documents relating to the Virgin audit settlement, that arrived at Chez Belewbeloid via FedEx yesterday, are returning to DGM's solicitor in London. Also, an e-flurry addressing inter alia the alarming failure to achieve definition & clarity regarding the possible/likely Crimson tour of Europe in June & July.

The agent has had several months' notice to plan & prepare. We delivered the condition he has always claimed as ideal - a new album released at the beginning of the year. Now, we are being asked to accept a tour that is not detailed, nor complete, nor the festival tour for which we asked. So, it comes down to this - will we tour, or not?

Once we say "yes!" then all the unacceptable conditions will have to be accommodated. These conditions include venues, promoters, routing & performance details that I might be inclined to otherwise modify, perhaps reject. This is why we gave a sufficient lead-time to allow for fine-tuning.

So, there will be a gap between the ideal and the actual. This is not surprising to anyone who has been in the front line, particularly a professional of 36 long years this 16th. May. The working player is accustomed to filling that gap. But where this gap becomes a chasm, I get nervous.

If the player makes a mistake, the player pays for it. It the agent makes a mistake, the player pays for it. If the manager makes a mistake, the player pays for it. If the record company makes a mistake, the player pays for it.

In addition to this particular litany of grief and woe, if there are details (such as high ticket prices & the practices of commerce) that impinge on the True Fan, the player also pays for this in the bleatings that accompany witless postings from The Eternal Basement to online discussion groups. This is apart from the ongoing demand for attention (whatever particular form that may take) that is part of fandom, and which is waiting for the nominal object of support between tour bus and doorway at each & every city, hotel & venue.

I have spent more time doing interviews than I have playing music. I have spent as much time attempting to re-negotiate the performer-audient model as I have spent doing interviews. I have put as much creative energy into finding alternative business structures & models (to those of the conventional music-industrial) as in discovering musical forms & structures. My good fortune in having the Band Buddies that I do, and David Singleton as a business partner at DGM, is all that I might ask for.

Nor I am not suggesting that life-in-the-front-line-as-guitarist is any worse than life in the front line of any field. In the musical front line, when things go wrong you continue breathing. In the NHS, or an area of armed conflict, people are crippled or die. So, witless commentaries, long nights & days away from home & family, performance spaces that are unsuited to music, and business partners that merely take your income (or don't pay it anyway), are simply standard working practices in the area of professional musicianship.

But, there are more ways of being a professional musician than being a touring player. And there are more ways of being a musician than being a professional musician. And there are many more ways of engaging with the ongoing stream of creative intelligence that we know as music than by playing guitar.

It's another grey day at Mount Juliet.