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The b-side of Kayak's third single, See See the Sun, was called Give it a Name. ( see below ). It is a rather corny song in which critics and critics were mocked. That was a phenomenon that we (in 1973) still had to learn to deal with. We were twenty, just released an album and thought we were pretty good. Not everyone agreed, we soon noticed. Kayak's 'career' in general, and mine in particular, hasn't gone down a path paved with rave reviews. I have said it before: if I had been bad at criticism, I would have left music in 1974.
As a creator you know that a review is only the opinion of one person. And also, that this review becomes much more important through publication than it actually is - but therefore not immediately more expert and meaningful. It is a fact that a bad review in De Telegraaf (to mention just one thing) hurts more than a lousy criticism in the Oostwapperveense Sufferdje. Before I get the editorial staff of the Oostwapperveense Sufferdje over me: not because the reviewer of De Telegraaf would have more knowledge than that of the aforementioned Sufferdje, but simply because the impact of that newspaper is significantly greater due to the number of readers. And a negative story influences the opinion and willingness to listen of others. Then on sale and finally in your wallet. Then I will not mention the frustrating effect, which can be a not-so-good criticism of your mood and creativity - especially if it is more than one. Let me put it this way: you learn to deal with it, but you never really get used to it. It is best not to read them, but that does not work in practice.
What I have noticed is that 'hobby' reviewers are usually more cheerful than those who earn their living with it. Maybe that's because the former usually just like to listen to something carefully, while the latter often have their opinion ready before they even hear a single note. Or the editors have to write something about certain music that they have no affinity with. Then I leave out the unfortunates, who are forced to go out to the concert after a fight with their mother to a concert that they certainly did not want to do anyway. You can complain about that as an artist, but that's just the way it is. And if you can't take it, you may have to choose another course. Or write a long nose in the form of a song, which will at least temporarily relieve you.
An unstoppable development in recent years is that the impact of the professional reviewer seems to have shrunk considerably, especially through the internet, which everyone can freely use. Is that an advantage? I do not know. Anyone can give an opinion. You don't have to be able to or know anything for that - you just have to find something and want to ventilate it. What is sometimes not fully understood (or indeed, all the worse) is the fact that artists also read that. And who, due to a fatal combination of sensitivity and vanity, can take it seriously. And that can have far-reaching consequences, which can go beyond a bad night's sleep, or a 'writer's block' caused by all that criticism. In the past, that tidal wave of opinion often came indirectly. Once there was a letter, a deejay heard nothing in it, or the record did less well in terms of sales. But now the situation is fundamentally different.
It was written that Keith Emerson's suicide earlier this year was partly a result of all kinds of silly narcissistic cackling on the Internet. The keyboardist would have been so afraid of a public decline, so afraid of not being able to reach his former level and disappointing fans, that he decided to end his life. There is no proof, but I could just believe it. Ruthless statements had previously been made by people who, as the best helmsmen, like to spit their displeasure but have no idea what such words can do to someone who is confronted with a failing body. Keith read that too and couldn't stand it. Yeah, maybe he should have stopped earlier. But it is tragic, what a lack of empathy, decency and respect can cause even in someone who should be far above that drivel. Unfortunately, that too is the internet: the open sewer of the technological society. Twitter is destroying more than you like.
Back to the starting point. Ultimately, it comes down to this: music touches you or not - you don't need to have learned anything for that. And I don't grumble. Because there is one more thing worse than bad criticism, and that is not criticism at all.
Give It A Name (text Pim Koopman, Cees van Leeuwen 1973)
It's very logical, yet quite insane when you're
Still sitting wond'ring trying to give it a name, ahah- ahah-ahah
Like to compare it with uh ... what would you say about uh ...
Alright I will find a name anyway, ahahahahahah
This is a tiresong tale about a critical ear
I guess I'm going to give it to you extremely clear
When the band starts to play and the lights grow dim
He opens his gate to let the soundwaves in
When his mood is good, he takes a positive seave
When his mood is sad, soon he's going to grieve
There is no absolute quality, nor absolute taste
But he has to do his job, there is no time to waste
Now mr. Bias, his friend, has said: That's real rock n rollY
ou have to back that group boy, they won the last poll
He knew he shouldn't take the words of mr Bias for sure
But his influence is strong and so hard to obscure
To be objective is not easy cause you need some tool
For to estimate music there is no estimating rule
Now he writes something down, he doesn't care he's to blame
He just has to say something, so gives it- sorry ... gives it a name