Music – You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your audience?

Marc HenshallCulture & Industry1 Comment

A short while ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron declared himself a long term Smith’s fan when he chose the bands hit This Charming Man on Desert Island Discs. When news of this got back to the bands guitarist Johnny Marr, he reacted by claiming to “ban” him from liking the band on claims that they were “not his kind of people”. So, can you pick and choose your audience in this way?

Well, no, quite frankly is the obvious answer – especially since David Cameron has claimed he will “Defy Johnny Marr’s Smith’s “ban”. This being said, and despite being quite amusing in an almost childish way – this issue and question really runs deeper than this…

Music & The Class System 

What Johnny Marr & David Cameron are displaying, is a perfect example of how the old fashioned class system is still very much deeply rooted  into some areas of British society. The Smiths, as a band, very much represented working class Manchester, and the political and social elements of what mattered to them. This is a tail of post industrial decline, socialist ideology, and resentment for the ruling class. However, as much as I’m sure these emotions and sentiments were designed to change the world – the fact remains that music has the ability to transcend class, race, and various other social boundaries. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you listened to a song, found your own meaning in it, and then found it was about something completely different? Either way, you probably weren’t worrying too much about what the writers class background was.

The irony in all this, is that Johnny Marr, like many other Rock N’ Roll legends from a humble background – is now essentially classless. I’m sure I could easily get a backlash of nasty comments for saying this, however, here it goes.. He might like to think he’s still working class and a man of the people, but the reality is – he is now part of the social elite, with a bank balance not too dis-similar to Cameron’s. In-fact, he probably has more in common with Westminster, than Greater Manchester these days!

Anyway, my point is – the beauty behind music is the fact that no matter what your background or beliefs, and no matter what a songs true meaning is, the only real meaning is what it means to you. And on that note, I will leave you with some words from John Lennon: “Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.”


  • Marc Henshall

    Marc is the owner of Sound Matters and a musician with a BSc Honours Degree in Music Technology. His love for records grew in the fallout from digital downloads and a feeling that, somehow, without the physical medium, the magic was lost.

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REM’s Mike Mills and Michael Stipe have recently joined the ranks of “offended” Lefties who find the election of Donald Trump as President to be sooooo “offensive” that they now throw tantrums trying to deny the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Democratic system that made his winning possible! Maybe the Democrats should change the name of their party if they find true democracy so abhorrent! Anyway, anyone who dares to challenge Mills and Stipe on their very vocal attack on the President and any Republicans gets told by REM’s Liberal fans that REM have always been Lefties and it should have been obvious in their music! Well, I beg to differ! How can “Shiny Happy People”, “Losing My Religion”, “Night Swimming”, “All the Way to Reno” etc. etc. be declared as songs criticising or challenging the Right!? They are observational songs about life, love, happiness and all the many facets of existence. REM’s earlier music was obviously more rebellious in it’s lyrics but, as the years rolled by, they mellowed and REM became more understanding and accepting in their songs, or so I believed. REM will always be providing music that I can enjoy and relate to and no amount of protesting from any disenchanted Leftie REM fan, or grumpy old REM member, that as a Republican I should not be listening to REM music will have their whining cries fall on deaf ears!