As I write this I’m in my robe and jammies suffering a flu virus I thought I’d managed to avoid. I have two similarly sick kids watching “Doc McStuffins” on the television. I look and feel about as unstylish as a potato that has got a few rot spots going on. It’s not pretty.
Fortunately, being sick has its upside.
Like being forced to take time out, and the creation of mental space to think in a way that ordinary life doesn’t allow for. Last night, with a thumping headache and the chills, I watched a music documentary on television about George Michael, something I wouldn’t have done had I been healthy (I couldn’t sleep because I’d been dozing for much of the day). I was struck by certain parallels of his journey in the music industry to the principles of Silk Purse, Oily Rag.
George Michael fought the record company Sony to free him from a contract that tied him to being what he felt was a contrived and manufactured pop performer. He wanted to be himself and make music in his own way as an artist. He didn’t want to be a puppet on show to meet the “fashion” of the times. He wanted to express himself and make music that came from deep within. He wanted to express his “personal style”.
And when he did, great music happened.
Albums like “Listen without Predjudice” and “Older” came of these times, before and after the split with Sony records. And whether you personally liked his music or not, one could not deny the exceptional songwriting and performance talent the man had. I do believe I thrashed the album “Listen Without Predjudice” as a teen, struggling with my own sense of indentity and personal happiness. I was moved, touched by something at an emotional level.
Be good to yourself/because nobody else/has the power to make you happy – from Heal the Pain, of the album Listen Without Predjudice by George Michael
Little did I know at the time, that George’s music so touched me because it was written by someone who was expressing his own sorrows and struggles when he wrote them. He was writing from a place of deep personal honesty.
And here-in-lies the Silk Purse, Oily Rag style wisdom.
The fake perfection of “fashion”, like manufactured pop music, is not where great moments in style happen. Ordinary life and the creative expression of individual style is. Whether it is on the street or in the mind of a talented designer, great style is an outward expression of someone’s truth. And our challenges and struggles as human beings all form part of that great truth and provide it with the energy required to create beautiful things.
And so by embracing who we are, rather than who we think we ought to be, we can find greater personal joy and serenity. And perhaps even, by doing so we can touch the lives of others. Like George did.
The Silk Purse, Oily Rag message from all of this is of course, be yourself.