Way to go, from heroes to zeros

The way they were: The Stone Roses, who then imploded
The way they were: The Stone Roses, who then imploded
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THERE is, I have always thought, something heroic about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

To achieve one’s potential, it seems to me, is but an anti-climax; it is to stand forever after on a plateau of self-doubt wondering if success was worth sacrifice.

But to take that same potential and waste it is surely to be safe in the certainty that you would have been great if only you could have been bothered.

Any person of talent can succeed but few have the determination to fail.

It is an odd point of view an editor told me once. At any rate, I am afraid it is mine.

Maturity does not (so far) blunt my admiration for Alex Higgins, Brendan Behan or Robin Friday.

One day perhaps it will.

And perhaps on that day I will also understand the reason why last week The Stone Roses, a band who George Best-ed their own potential more than 15 years ago, decided to reform.

Perhaps then I will understand why these four men chasing 50 cannot be happy they once created magic – and gloriously blew it – but must tragically try to recapture it too.

For now, however, for this one-time fan, it is with some sadness I remember their guitarist John Squire writing just two years ago that he had “no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of (his) seminal Manchester pop band”.

And I wonder what changed his mind. Except, of course, everyone knows what changed his mind – the same thing that did the Eagles, and Led Zeppelin and, aye, Steps.

“How many a zero on a cheque turns a hero on his word?” I ask her, and she says something about me sounding like a teenager.

Meh. Whatever.

The Roses meant much to me way back when, and I do not like the thought of them soiling their own legacy – you know, like the flabby Sex Pistols did – to satisfy some mid-life crises.

I do not like to read them being called ‘has-beens’ when really they were always ‘should-have-beens’.

But that’s what happens to bands who reunite a generation on. People can forgive pop stars almost anything, I once read somewhere, except being old. And – Gary Glitter excluded – I reckon that’s true.

Because the best music – from Beethoven to The Beatles – has always been about the future and looking forward. The past is a pay day but not much more.

And there is something sad about how these four friends – each with pretty awesome post-Roses careers in music – will now not always be those Jackson Pollock splattered, floppy fringed upstarts turning down support slots with The Rolling Stones because, as lead singer Ian Brown said, they’re old and should be supporting us.

They will not be that band that imploded before their second album was even released because of their sheer kinetic energy.

They will, to a generation of youngsters, just be those old dudes going over old ground on stage.

What was it John Squire said just last year?

“When it’s just a get-together for a big payday and everyone gets their old clothes out, that seems tragic to me.”

Aye, he was right, all right. And not just about his own pop band’s reunion.

For don’t we spend too much of our lives looking backward, thinking of the past, trying to recapture what could have been; not enough celebrating what went horribly, gloriously wrong.