Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just Under the Radar

Nick Lowe never got to big to play a club or a riverfront stage, which is the only place I like to see live music. Thank the radio gods for that, because he's always been one of my favorites. Here he tells the story of how to age gracefully in rock while avoiding success:

Q: You were an influential figure in punk and new wave, and there was a time when what you were doing was right in step with popular music. Then on your later albums it seemed that your styles starting going backward in time toward pre-rock sounds. Did you make a conscious choice to not absorb current musical fashion?

A: I've always liked being an outsider, ever since I had an early brush with stardom at a very early age, and it was awful. I made up my mind then that if I saw myself ever getting really huge - which was very unlikely [because] I'm much too lazy a person - but if I ever saw myself getting that way, I would take steps to make sure it didn't happen because it's always much more fun to just be on the brink of making it. It's just about the most exciting place you can be. It's no fun being unknown and working away, and it's awful being really famous.

Q: Many of your fans feel you haven't been given what you are due.

A: I rest very easy at night with the way things are. Believe me, I've seen [fame] at close range. It's absolutely vile. When my career as a pop star finished, which was about 1981, I saw it coming because I'd been a record producer as well, so I had my feet in both camps. When it did come, I totaled it up: I had a couple of hits, I produced some good records, written some songs for other people.

Which, in some other people, might sound like a post-lack-of-success rationalization. But having followed the man's career and met him in person a few times, I'm inclined to say he means it.