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This is a story of unfinished business. It’s about narcissism, former glories and ruining it for everybody.
It feels like I have been a mediocre-to-average musician all my life.
I can just about write a song, just about sing, just about play guitar and just about entertain an audience. I’m pretty underwhelming for a narcissist.
However, I also have that most useful skill in all of music: I can network. It’s not what you know, but who you know, etc.
But ja, I have embraced that truism in crafting a career of consistent and longevous mediocrity.
In my parallel life as a journalist and media worker, I have met many excellent musicians, producers record label owners, publicists, radio DJs, and venue owners.
I waste no opportunity to unethically mention to every one of them that, you know, I’m also a musician.I would describe their responses as… cagey but curious.
One such group of intrigued but hesitant individuals were the members of the iconic South African rock band Springbok Nude Girls.
I once bragged to them about the supposed band I was supposedly in, and they promptly called my bluff.
Would we like to open for them when they come on their next tour, I was asked?
In the SA rock context, this is a lot like being asked whether you would like to partner Rafael Nadal in a doubles tournament at your tennis club.
It’s a big deal, and also a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Unfortunately, in my case, I wasn’t able to play the match, as it were.
I didn’t have a racquet, and I had pulled a hamstring, to extend an extremely clumsy metaphor.
Our guitarist – the only member of the band with actual talent – had left for the greener pastures of London.
I am able to freestyle a bit of rap and spoken word, but hardly enough to hold a stage on my own opening for Arno Carstens, Theo Crous and their mates in the Nudies.
I was forced to decline.
I spent the next two years mainly kicking myself, and dreaming about alternate realities where I did not miss the greatest musical opportunity of my life.
Then, as fate would have it, I moved to Cape Town. I was new in town and had not many friends, nor money.
However, I kept half an eye on the live music scene and then saw that, okay, the Nude Girls were playing in Stellenbosch one Saturday night.
I took myself out there, just for old times’ sake, to kind of reminisce over what might have been.
The venue was De Akker top room, the performance space above the iconic Dorpstraat bar and restaurant.
I was alone and regretful. Everything I saw gave me depression. It felt like watching Rafael Nadal winning the French Open doubles without me.
I pounded down numerous beers, and then, the next thing I knew, I had jumped on stage. I was freestyling my mediocre raps and spoken word with the Springbok Nude Girls!
Before an audience of non-plussed Stellenbosch residents!
I’m not sure if it was an open-mic segment, if I was invited, or if I just took the liberty.
But I was up there, gentle reader, striking a blow for mediocre-to-average musicians who miss their one big opportunity because of reasons.
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I think I was a little bit like a Russian dictator who is born too late, in a former superpower, and who stages an abortive invasion to re-enact some former glory and then cocks things up for everybody.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened because I remember someone asking me who I thought I was.
And I remember me being unable to really answer him.
Even today, I’m not totally sure who I think I am.
But I can confirm that I have shared a stage with Springbok Nude Girls.
It may have ruined a couple of people’s night out at De Akker, but at least no one died.
And that’s more than you can say for some other narcissists trying to recapture former glories!
My lower back is like World War III