What I learned while dating a musician
None of those songs are about you
There’s a special prestige, an enigma attached to dating boys in certain walks of life. More glamorous, more creative, more rock’n’roll. You look at the kind of girls who date musical geniuses, the Bianca Jaggers, Kate Mosses, Blake Fielder-Civils of the world, and you think, “what can I do to make my life more like that”. You can do it, you think, potentially, by dating a musician, but unfortunately there aren’t many Mick Jaggers, Pete Dohertys, or Amy Winehouses in your hometown, so you make do. This is what you’ll learn in the process.
None of those songs are about you
I once had a hard time explaining away a song, written by my musician boyfriend, called “Emily”, to my friends at a gig.
My name is not Emily.
You will have to go to a lot of shows
This is simultaneously glamorous and the most annoying thing in the world. You can pretty much track your relationship with a musician over the course of their shows, and where you stand at them. At first you’re enthusiastic, infatuated, enjoying the music and standing in the front row but strategically not singing along to every song because god that would be a bit much. As time moves on, as you realise that it’s not quite Knebworth, you move towards the middle of the crowd, keeping a wary eye on the diehards at the front, kind of like a mum at a school play when their kid isn’t Mary or Joseph, or even one of the three kings, but Shepherd #3. You are a bit, slightly, embarrassed by it all, but you obviously want to be supportive. By the end, you have heard all these songs done to death, and there’s always beer in your hair, and you didn’t even get your name on the “guestlist” at the door so had to pay a fiver to get in here. You end up watching the last of them smoking outside at a van where later you’ll probably have to help the unofficial “roadies” put their instruments in the back.
No matter how good, or shit, their band is, other girls will try to get with them
It doesn’t really matter how they look either. There’s probably something about having a guitar, being dark and tortured enough to write ballads which sound a bit like Razorlight, having an ability to sing and move fingers deftly along strings is briefly irresistible. There’s an art to being around enough to show you’re going out with someone and not in a mad Nancy Spungen, Courtney Love possessive kind of way, and it’s an art you never really master without at some point crying in the toilets while someone else bangs on the door and says “Nothing’s going on, I promise!”
You will be roped into the hype machine that is their life
There are only so many times you can share their gigs as Facebook events and subtly play their music for friends before you realise it’s a bit much, now. You are telling people their influences and helping them with photoshoots which are always, for some reason, in the woods. It seems like people don’t think it’s as exciting as it’s supposed to be.
They are tortured souls in need of care and attention
“Honestly, it’s really good”, you’re saying, for the fifth time tonight. It’s just the two of you, and an acoustic guitar, and the latest track from their latest EP. Nobody ever realises how intense it is, by the way, listening to acoustic music in a very empty room. Where are you supposed to look? “Nah, it’s shit.” “No honestly, I really, really like it”. They are encouraged by this. “Which part did you like the best?” Fuck. Just say the chorus.
No matter how good, or shit, their band is, you can probably cruise off being cool just because you’re going out with them
“Her boyfriend’s in a band” – this, at school (probably not ever again, after that) is gold-dust. For a while, nobody can tell that you’re not at all cool.
They do not make any money
Sorry, the dream is dead. They probably aren’t gonna get discovered. You are gonna be splitting those drinks orders, dinners, and taxi fares home for a long time, my friend.