Tops' Blog

It's just a little blog for stuff that I want to talk about.

Posts tagged war child

Jan 18

John Lennon Speaks Zen

I finally got round to reading the amazing last interview with John Lennon in the December 23rd issue of Rolling Stone. I’d love to link but I can’t find it on their site, sadly. Anyway, I’ve always thought he was a bit of a tiresome peacenik but this interview made me remember that he was actually one of the more intelligent musicians we’ve been blessed with. I highly recommend finding it, if you can.

Anyway, at one point he recalls a zen story that Yoko once told him. It made total sense to me, particularly the way I write (not necessarily this blog but definitely for work). Here it is:

"A King sends his messenger to an artist to request a painting. He paid the artist the money, and the painter said ‘OK, come back’. So a year goes by and the messenger comes back and tells him, ‘the kings waiting for his painting,’ and the painter says, ‘Oh, hold on,’ and whips it off right in front of him and says, ‘Here.’ And the messenger says, ‘What’s this, the king paid you 20,000 bucks for this shit, and you knock it off in five minutes?’ And the painter replies, ‘Yeah, but i spent ten years thinking about it.’"

I love that story - it is exactly how I try to explain to people my writing ‘technique’, if you can call it that. Yes, I may look like I’m dicking about - reading books, or the paper, or blogs. But actually, in my mind, it’s fermenting. At some point, I’ll just know what I want to say and I’ll immediately have to find a piece of paper, or a computer, or whatever. And then it’s done, generally, in the first draft. At least that’s the way the best pieces come out. Sadly, people always want it in an hour. That’s how the lame writing happens…

Jan 17

I did an interview last year

It got printed here last week. Enjoy.

Dec 15

Bad Gifts Don’t Save Lives

So, here, rather late, is the War Child Holiday Gifts campaign. It launched a while ago but, being rather slow, I’m only getting to it now. Anyway, don’t buy crap this holiday give something worthwhile. You know it makes sense. 

Videos are funny, too…

Sep 10

When it all came together…

So, 15 years ago today we were number one on the UK album chart. Well, because it was a compilation album they refused to put it in the actual chart, but the day before, War Child’s Help album had sold 72,000 copies - more than any other album in the country had managed over the previous six days. It was all pretty amazing. Help went on to raise $2.5M for Bosnia. Tony Blair gave it an award (we still quite liked him in 1995). The BRITS had to make up a new award.

The album had been first discussed about a month before, just after the Srebrenica massacre hit the headlines. It was the brainchild of my good friend, Tony Crean. We all thought Tony was crazy when he said we should get the top stars of Britpop together on one day in September to record an album. Oh, and release it, physically, five days later. This, remember was pre-internet. No-one had email. There was no file sharing. The whole thing had to be organized by fax and recorded on tape. Although, to be honest, we didn’t know any different back then.

Anyway, a week after that first meeting, Tony came back with Oasis, Massive Attack, Portishead, Paul Weller and, I think, The Stone Roses, confirmed. The Roses had spent five years recording their last album. Now they’d agreed to record a song in a day? Yeah, right.

What can I say? The rest is history. Twenty tracks were recorded on Monday, 4th September and released on Saturday the 9th. In the end, they all signed up - Blur, Radiohead, the Manics, KLF, Sinead. The Roses did make it on deadline. Even Macca got involved. He joined Weller and Noel Gallagher at Abbey Road to record a version of Come Together. With Johnny Depp on guitar. And Kate Moss on tambourine. It was that kind of day. The best of days.

You can read about what we achieved in this Observer article. And you can listen to it at War Child UK.

I don’t normally write about work on here but I thought this anniversary was worth breaking the rule for. I hope you agree.

Feb 26

I did an interview the other day

I think it turned out pretty well as a War Child 101. Thanks to J.P. Douglas at 56 Rebels. And thanks to a creative collaboration between @photojunkie and @brundle_fly for the image…

Feb 2

What the egghead of pop taught me

When I was a young man, I had the luxury of working for Brian Eno. Watching a documentary on Roxy Music the other night, I was struck by just how much my approach to pretty much everything bore Brian’s influence.

I went to university in York (England), studying music. Not the greatest career move at a time when the UK was at the bottom of Thatcher’s second major recession. But I didn’t care. It was what I needed to do.

The music dept at York was the perfect set-up for a job with Eno. It was like a weird throwback to the 60s - all early music and 60s experimentalism. Steve Reich, LaMonte Young, Ligeti were the soundtrack to my time there. And Brian Eno and his associates, Harold Budd, John Cale, Gavin Bryers and Jon Hassell. So when, stuck in a dead-end job at the PRS, the chance to run Brian’s publishing company came up, I leapt at it. Within a year I was in managing his management company as well. Sweet.

Read More