from Robert Fripp
Date: 05 Feb 97 12:09:29 EST
From: Discipline Global Mobile <73064 dot 1470 at CompuServe dot COM>
Subject: from Robert Fripp
Monday, February 3rd. 1997.
Many thanks for the level of response to my request for
consideration of the question/s of the relationship between audient and
musician. I am very impressed by the time and attention which gas gone into
the considered replies.
Several of the Team have begun to write to me directly here at DGM
World Central. May I suggest that for topics related to the ET debate/s
they contribute them to ET?
Toby the Hero.
Last week I 'phoned Toby. This is a summary-ish of part of our
Toby began the newletter for "enthusiasts" without seeking my
permission, or asking for my blessing. I have no objection to this: music
played in public by professional musicians is, impliedly, open to public
discussion and debate. Even welcomed and encouraged. And I am impressed by
Toby's choice of terms: "enthusiasts" are directed by inspiration, "fans"
I approach this forum with some hesitation, and trepidation. This
is your newsletter, not mine. On the other hand, it would seem to have some
connection with me. But, once again, this is your place for Crim-related
conversation. So here is a problem: this is The Internet.
It seems (I suggested to Toby) that there are six geographical
conversation areas over which we have some influence and input: domestic,
local, regional, national, international and global. (We haven't got to
interplanetary, although current standard record company contracts include
that one too!). Whereas once we could make a dopey comment at home, or in
our neighbourhood bar, the same dopey localised comment now made over the
internet has a global reach and global audience / viewage.
So, I have some sympathy with the commentators who have posted
relatively unconsidered opinions (which have their own value and are
insightful) but who might not have anticipated the repercussions of
careless commentary. The performer grows up in public. Maybe now, also the
Also, may we consider the personal meetings and bumpings into,
small asides, and conversations in bars, between contributors and various
musicians / members of Crimson over a period of 20+ years. Like, Adrian's
comments on Fripp in a hotel bar after a gig to a friendly fan. The
replies, deliberate and otherwise, were probably never intended for
publication in a global discussion forum. Until now. Currently, whenever I
am asked a question, or approached for an autograph, or "suffer through a
few moments of sincere compliment", or not "suffer through a few moments of
sincere compliment", there are good odds that the incident will be reported
verbatim in Elephant Talk, sooner or later.
What was formerly a personal exchange is now a global exchange in
public. Simply, "personal" moments now have a potentially public and
global effect. (I don't recall seeing this addresed in ET before).
Question: knowing this, do you think a performer might modify their
behaviour in close encounters of the enthusiast kind? If so, how?
For many years I have been engaged in the varying forms of public
warfare and mass communion we know as the performance of music. My life as
a performer in public now covers 37 years and 10 months (I played "Le
Bateau de Tahiti" in a village hall in the Bournemouth area, as part of the
performance by Kathleen Gartell's Corfe Mullen School of Music). I've
adopted different approaches, at different times, in different places, to
different audiences, both collectively and individually; and continue to do
so. Generally, these approaches go against the conventional and expected
(there are good reasons for this). They rarely fall under the industry
heading of "smart career move". Inevitably, those in the audience who
expect the conventional might get their bag of bananas wrapped in a
tourniquet. And those who expect the unconventional onstage but the
conventional offstage might get their cucumbers grilled sideways.
This is my concern as a musician: how to be in the presence of
music when the power turns on? Some of the ET correspondents have clearly
also been in this place: their letters resonate with the moment time
stops. Baby Blue, I have been there with you. Several times, on both sides
of the demarcation line.
That moment, and its participants, is / are utterly impersonal. To
put if differently, there is nothing personal about this. Or to put it
differently this is impersonal, utterly.
It is tragic that we struggle so hard to shut down our
possibilities to enter this timeless, impersonal moment. Like, by getting
personal. Or to put it differently, to get utterly personal.
ET readers may have come to the general conclusion that personal
popularity doesn't come very high on Fripp's list of priorities. If it did,
clearly Fripp would have got personal with all the fans and enthusiasts who
only wanted to say "Thank you", or have a photograph of / with him, or sign
an autograph for them, or have an (only brief) conversation with him. After
all, "why not suffer through a few moments of sincere compliment"? And why
not? How seemingly plausible an argument! It doesn't take long, after
all. If only Fripp exerted himself a little more, and made a few personal
acknowledgements on demand from nice people, he'd be a popular guy. And
that's only his offstage behaviour! Soon we'll have him playing in more
light, and waving to audiences at the end of a show! Would Toby be able to
handle all the glowing reports of contributors' own individual personal and
group interractions with Fripp? What a nice guy! What a great man!
On the other hand, some ET readers have already posted their own
positive "meeting with Fripp" story. How can this be? Is he a nice guy or
not? Or both? Or neither? Are all of these possibly true, simultaneously?
Does he care? Do you care? Is it trivial? Does it have value, or relevance,
even both? Does Fripp want to be liked? Or hated? Does it matter, to me, to
him? It must do, because so many correpondents rattle their keyboards with
their recurring broohaha!
From where I sit, with my left foot on the outside of the inside
and my right foot on the inside of the outside, impartially viewing the
postings and trying to come to some idea of what Fripp might be like
personally on the basis of all the posted and available information, I am
unable to come to any easy conclusion. It is as if each reported offstage
meeting with, or commentary of onstage Fripp, reflects the commentator
rather than casting much light on Fripp himself. That is, as if he were a
mirror, reflecting back to the person an aspect of themselves which they
then attribute to him. He seems to have a sense of humour, he seems to have
an active mind, he likes cake. He reads a lot. He entered a six-year
dispute which his former managers and two of the largest music groups in
the world on a point of principle: who in their right mind would prejudice
their career and solvency to do that? Certainly not a practical man: after
all, he threw up his career with Crimson twice! And then there's the
problem of the music: where did that come from? It has touched me in places
that rarely get touched - I know he's a creep, so how could that happen? I
know he's not emotional, so how come I'm moved? I know he doesn't take any
interest in the audience, because he is so still on stage. And I can't see
his fingers moving. He's not even interested in the group, which is
Adrian's now anyway. (And Adrian's too poppy by far).
Lighten up - this is way too serious!
My interest in addressing the forum began some three years ago when
a number of postings of impressive (in my view arrogant) assumption
proffered definitive statements regarding my actions and decisions, even my
own opinions and feelings, on the basis of ... I wasn't quite sure
what. Where information was cited, for example in a post from Michael Bloom
(November 12th. 1993), it was impressively inaccurate. Michael claimed that
he was "not clueless"; i.e. in Crimspeak, Michael was informed. Michael is
one of life's good guys, and I believe that music touches him deeply. He
was also very brave to comment on my relationship and dispute with EG
Management on the basis of the information to which he had access.
On the evening of Wednesday 8th. January, 1997, I signed four Deeds
of Settlement between myself, EG, Virgin Records and BMG Publishing, each
dated December 24th. 1996. Mr. Fenwick's signature was witnessed by Chris
Kettle, former King Crimson roadie from the Larks' Tongues period, now EG
employee of some twenty years, and the person formerly responsible for my
interests within EG, themselves formerly responsible for managing my
interests. I had been managed by EG for 21 years and 3 months, and in
dispute with them for six years. My former managers had access to detailed
and virtually complete information on all my affairs while their affairs in
turn were almost completely closed to me. And I really don't have an equal
bargaining position with either Virgin or BMG. On the morning of Monday
13th. January, 1997, my company secretary John Raymond, who lives opposite
the church in which I married and where my parents now reside, applied the
company seal to the Settlement deeds and despatched them to London. The
final court order is expected any day now.
Those six years began with a sense of walking with opened veins in
quick-drying concrete, my life gradually leaving me. In 1992 I becmae aware
that I was slowly dying. Then the experience changed to one of a long and
painful death in the family, but one which also threatened to unseat me
personally and professionally.
Simply, in that period my priorities did not include addressing
unwarranted assumptions and dopey conclusions, whether from supportive
enthusiasts or otherwise.
On January 13th. I wrote to Elephant Talk in the hope that we might
raise the quality of discussion. I don't want to spoil your enjoyment or
dampen your enthusiasm, and I don't want ET to sink in a morass of
solemnity. But then, how can you tell someone who watches Steven Segal
movies with his Sister to "lighten up"?
This is my position: I hold commentators responsible for their
comments where they touch upon matters of my direct interest, involvement
and experience. Where the comments are nasty, unkind and deliberately
rude, nominally based on fact or reasoned conclusion, I may respond
directly and ask the commentator to address their seeming logic. My hunch
is we'll discover several recurrent / standard assumptions which are, in my
view, dishonest, unreasonable and deliberately manipulative; and that many
of the opinions which we attribute to our artists are actually our
own. Where the comments are flattering, generous and overly considerate
(read obsequious), or have the aroma of herbal restorative, I may respond
directly as well. Like, what do you mean by "genius"?
Everything we do generates repercussions. Sooner or later, near or
far, we are asked to address those repercussions.
Or so it seems to me.
We have different degrees and kinds of interest in King
Crimson. Most of the functional and factual questions have already been
answered, somewhere, in the past 27 years and often in ET.
A suggestion: volunteers to collate a data bank of information on
various topics. Then, if anyone is in doubt about the repercussions of
confronting a judge resulting from one's inability to tell the age of young
people and a love of confectionary, just scroll through to "Lyrics: Easy
Money / Variant I(b)ii". The collected Gig Reviews form an impressive body
of direct criticism / commentary on KC (and its enthusiasts) in action.
Second suggestion: the ongoing debate on the audience / performer
relationship is building up a goodly amount of considered
contributions. Who might be able to collate, and summarise, these two (with
or without standard questionaire)?