Brothers in Harms

LIAMNOELBABY

Family.

Blood is thicker than water.

When everyone else has gone it is meant to be your family who are stood still by your side, resolute, devout, faithful even in the face of disgrace, disappointment and disaster.

Romantic?

Maybe.

Those of a postmodernist persuasion (hello Guardian writers) will tell you that the family is an artificial construct that, in truth, it is just a word and that it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Maybe.

I am willing to concede that my own view of the family has been shaped, fashioned, moulded by my upbringing as a Mormon…a faith that places the family at the heart of absolutely everything it preaches and teaches.

In my home my dad would gather us all together at the end of the day, my mum and my two brothers, to kneel together and pray because, as he said every single night; “Families that pray together, stay together”.  He meant it too.  For Mormons the family is not a temporal thing, something that at the end of this life is over but is, instead, an eternal unit…families are “sealed” together.  I no longer live at home, of course, and I no longer really “believe” but I am tied to that concept of family.

On a wall in my childhood home hung a cross-stitch that had a house at the bottom and above it the words “No success in the world can compensate for failure in the home”.  That was a phrase uttered by one of the leaders of the Mormon Church by the name of David O. McKay.  My dad held that as his own personal motto.  He, in partnership with my mother, did everything he could to ensure that our home, our family, was a place of love, support, compassion, forgiveness and openness.  He had grown up in a rougher, and poorer, environment than the one his children were living in and he was Hell bent, maybe Heaven bent, on making sure that our experience was as different from his own as was possible.

The result of those hours of talking, playing, debating and the rest is that we remain a close and loving family.  I love my brothers and would do whatever I could to help them.  I enjoy their company and I seek it out whenever I can.  I like for my daughter to be around them as much as possible.  They have always been there for me.

Rose tinted?

It’s really not.

This is what family is to me.

This is my lived experience.

Have there been moments of wibbling rivalry?

You better, you better, you bet.

But after the dust has settled on those moments it has always been so easy to move on, to let things lie, to forgive, to forget…because we need each other, we believe in one another and I know that we’re going to uncover even greater love as the years drift by.

When Noel Gallagher let fly with his latest contribution to the war with his brother Liam in an interview for The Guardian today it included some of the most serious accusations, the most unpleasant attacks and one comment in particular that revealed something even uglier than usual in this spat.

“I think it’s unsophisticated music. For unsophisticated people. Made by an unsophisticated man. Who’s giving unsophisticated orders to a load of songwriters who think they’re doing the Oasis thing.

Ah.

The music that his little brother is releasing is “unsophisticated”.

All about opinions I suppose.

“Lacking refined worldly knowledge or tastes” is the literal definition of being unsophisticated so, by that standard, you could throw almost the entire history of popular music into the bin labelled “unsophisticated”…apart from Sade of course.

It doesn’t seem to be that there is anything particularly sophisticated about what Noel has been making his millions from over the years either…one could hardly claim that “Digsy’s Dinner” was in the same league as Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius” say.  Noel writes pop songs…often those pop songs are “inspired” (ahem) by other pop songs.  They are never political, they rarely have any deeper meaning and, often, they are hymns to hedonism or the most simplistic of odes to love.  Sister, he’s not a poet.

But guess what…I love those songs and I think I love them because they are not sophisticated.  That is also the reason why I love Liam’s music too.  I don’t rush to the turntable for high art.  I want the hiss of the needle on vinyl because I know what is going to come out of the speakers next is going to speak to me, is going to touch me, is going to lift my spirits and soothe what is left of my soul.  This is rock ‘n’ roll…not the Biennale.

What really irked me about this quote was the suggestion that by enjoying “Shockwave” or “Wall of Glass” or “Bold” or “Once” I am, according to Noel, “unsophisticated”.  I cannot have both brothers in my life without acknowledging, or admitting, that I am a man of simple, maybe even crude, taste.  It wasn’t enough for Noel to attack Liam…somehow, suddenly, I was in the firing line too.  I didn’t like it.  I am an educated person, I may not be well read but I’d wager I have read well, I draw delight from a wide variety of sources…world cinema, opera, ballet, art, literature, poetry AND, gasp, less sophisticated things too.  I don’t think that my knowing a bit about Japanese post-war cinema or the novels of Douglas Coupland makes me any better than someone who doesn’t know about those things…I just happen to know about different things than them.  That’s what makes the world fun…different folks having different strokes.

Not for Noel.

I am unsophisticated.

Liam and his team are also unsophisticated.

There is a strong sense of Noel being…a snob.

Or maybe he was just angry.

It’s not for me to know.

Or you.

Then there were the accusations that Liam is a brute when it comes to women…veiled, and not so veiled, suggestions and inferences were made regarding the sort of man Liam is.

“That’s not the first time he’s sent texts to my daughter, or left threatening phone calls on my wife’s answering machine. So when he’s threatening my wife via my teenage daughter, I’m thinking, you know, if you weren’t a rock star, if you were just an uncle who worked in a garage, you’d be getting a visit from the police. But because you’re a rockstar, wahey, you get away with that shit.”

I find this a little disturbing.

Is Noel suggesting that the police have been informed about threatening messages from Liam and they have not acted on the evidence…Noel says there are voicemail messages so evidence does exist…or is he saying that despite their being evidence of these things he hasn’t got around to informing the police because he thinks they would be too in awe of Liam as a rock star?

Either option is unsettling.

If it were my wife or daughter receiving threatening messages I would take them to the police…if they were coming from a high profile figure and the police were refusing to do anything about it I might even be tempted to go public with them.

Maybe Noel just doesn’t want to add to the drama.

This whole affair has now become so utterly poisonous that it is obvious that there can be no reconciliation.  Even if there were a desire for such a thing I don’t see how you can move past things like this.

This isn’t a team Liam piece before anyone gets set to try and drag me into a camp.

Liam has said as many odious things to and about Noel, and his wife, on the record but this was the article today and so this is the one that is the focus of my thoughts on the situation right now.

A lot of people would like to see them both sit down, thrash it out, move on and get the band back together like Jake and Elwood.  I think this article has moved me out of that place…I think any reconciliation could now only ever be temporary and that the eventual repercussions following the next split would be even more poisonous.  Frankly I don’t need that.

My desire now is for neither one of them to say anything about the other one ever again.  Just be quiet.  Sing the songs, promote the new stuff, reminisce about the old stuff but just leave each other alone.

Let there be peace in the valley.

Cast no further shade.

Everybody knows that this thing is broken beyond repair.

Things are being said, not in the heat of the moment, but after hours, days, weeks, months of rumination and with a burning desire for recrimination.

Like Britney said…toxic.