11 Jun, 2007 Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend
John Cale, the former and one of the founder members of the greatest band of all time – The Velvet Underground – wrote a brilliant song called Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend. I would have to agree with Cale’s theory that fear can in fact be a good thing when it is known how to master it. Personally I used to suffer some awful bouts of fear especially in the formative years of Simple Minds and particularly in connection with performing live.
Most people have heard of “Stage fright” but I wonder how many have literally experienced it. Well I have and it made life pretty miserable for me over a period of about five years between forming Simple Minds and continuing up until our breakthrough period in ’82. It was during that period that touring for me meant spending almost the entire day fretting over the on coming performance that we were due to give that night, worrying quite insanely over the multitude of things that could go wrong but in fact rarely ever did.
Nevertheless it was a miserable existence and I could not wait for tours to end, enabling me to scramble back to the sanctuary of the rehearsal room and the recording studio. It would be fair to say that drugs apparently helped me overcome my personal and professional doubts, but eventually I came to the point where they no longer seemed necessary and therefore I lost all interest in them. These days the idea of having even a small glass of whisky prior to going on stage has no allure whatsoever and in fact a cold shower minutes before I go on stage is the perfect way for me to prepare for a performance. I have no idea why that is!
Getting back to the subject of fear and the effect it can have on all of us. My feeling is that if you are afraid of something you should try not to retreat from it. On the contrary and through experience my impression is that it is better to meet fear head on – go into it in fact! Figuratively, if you are afraid of the darkness of night for example, better to go out into the dark night and overcome it that way. Transcend your fear that way, sit out there, and let it surround you. Let the night throw at you all that it has. Let it do whatever you think it may do. Your fear dissipates quickly when you see that nothing happens and that darkness itself it not so dark even, particularly as your eyes adjust.
At some point during our concert tours of ’82 I made such a switch in my thinking. Somehow no longer afraid, I started to throw myself out onto the stage willing whatever was to happen …to happen…both good and bad.
Fear no longer played a part, only destiny!