There has been a lot of publicity about historical cases of abuse in the news over recent years and this movement is gathering momentum. That is great to see. Those who commit acts of abuse should absolutely be made to face the consequences of their actions. One thing I can't help but notice is that in every case there seems to be a lot of people in the online space who question the truthfulness of those who come forward to make abuse public on the grounds that those victims didn't speak out immediately after the incident, or during the process of it, if the abuse was long term.
Phil Circle is an independent musician based in Chicago. In his album Recircle he reveals some of his lesser known recordings, partly for existing fans and partly for those who are new to his music (like me). The fact that there are only 100 copies of this CD makes it feel special—as though this is a gift for those loyal fans who have stuck with him and follow him closely enough to know about this release. The insert which comes with the CD feels like it is written directly to you—the reader. That intimacy in writing is a talent of Phil's and also comes through in his book An Outback Musician's Survival Guide.
So I decided to go and work on a German horse farm in December. I had several reasons for doing so — not least of which was the desire to remove myself very thoroughly from all possibility of having to get involved with Christmas that year. I justified the decision very well, I thought. My reasoning was excellent and my resolve was rock solid. Not a single furrowed brow from any of my friends or acquaintances could sway me. I swept all potential obstacles aside and was so determined to escape Christmas that even a strength-sapping cough at the tail end of a two-week cold bug wasn't enough to stop me from embarking on my incredibly well-planned adventure.
A few weeks ago, I posted a video about anxiety on my Facebook timeline, with a little note explaining why and what the differences were between me and the guy in the video. Almost immediately afterwards a now ex-friend of mine responded with the words "Irrelevant. You thrive on this melodrama. Utter poo." Now, I don't for a minute think that everyone thinks or feels this way — that was a very extreme response. But what I have noticed is that whilst depression as a mental health condition is gradually gaining more public awareness, although a lot of prejudice and ignorance still exists; public knowledge about anxiety as a mental health condition is lagging behind.
I have always said that a successful piece of writing is one which achieves its aim and justifies the subject matter. Phil Circle’s book The Outback Musician’s Survival Guide is a successful book. The blurb on the back declares that Phil is here to tell us “what it’s really like for 99% of America’s music industry people.” In doing so, he takes us on an adventure through a lot of his own experiences: humorous or painful or a mixture of the two. On the way, he reveals quite a lot of very useful advice for artists of all kinds as well as music-specific insights, guidance and practical instructions. This book will rid you of any illusions you have been fed by the media, that to be in the music industry is to be a stylish millionaire who is constantly followed by cameras and wins glamorous awards every second day. For this reason, it should be standard reading for those, all those who would like to start a career in music or for those who have already tried to make it but are feeling jaded and uninspired. Phil’s delight in music and his deep commitment to the art of making it pour out from every page. It is impossible not to be swept away on his current of passion.