What The Stone Roses taught me about life (and advertising)

Roses hugging

Did you see The Stone Roses at Heaton Park last year or Finsbury Park last weekend? I did. I’m a massive fan. After my wedding day and the birth of my kids, the two best days of my life were 18th November 1989 (the Ally Pally show) and 27th May 1990 (Spike Island). One show I didn’t see (thankfully) was Reading 1996. By this time John Squire and Reni had left so there was a new guitarist and drummer. I watched a bit of it on You Tube the other day; it’s heartbreaking, proper watch-through-your-hands stuff. The new musicians are competent but they’re not in he same league as the (real) Stone Roses. Ian Brown is utterly off his tits and totally out of tune; he looks embarrassed and lonely, the coolest man in the world at his lowest ebb. It’s toe-curling, soulless sub-karaoke.

The Reading show is a grim reminder that we do our best work in the right situation. In the right place, at the right time and – most importantly – with the right people. When we’re surrounded by people we trust (partner, CD, MD, planner, suit etc) and engaged in a project (brief, client) we’re passionate about. Take away some/all of those elements and we’re all vulnerable to our very own Reading. If we allow ourselves to get into a ‘wrong’ situation (eg go with an idea you know deep down isn’t right, allow a client to change a piece of work so much you’re not proud of it anymore, take a job for the money) the next thing you know you’re desperately polishing a turd, feeling bitter and dying inside.

However, while all of that is scarily sobering, there’s to be a happy ending. And it’s this. No matter how bad things get, you can always come back. Just like they did last year at Heaton Park. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “There are no second acts (in American lives)”, but The Roses proved him wrong. Reading ’96 was rock bottom but now they’re back on top. The footage in Shane Meadows’ Made of Stone of them rehearsing is a tribute to the power of friendship.

No matter how shitty your situation, with the right people around you, you can turn it around. And for me, that turnaround starts with your attitude, your perspective. In the words of The Roses, “How many times do I have to tell you/You don’t have to wait to die?/You can have it all/Any time you want it/The kingdom’s all inside.”


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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