Wise words from two musical Mr Ws

Mr W No1.

Pete Waterman is a clever man. I always think that I don’t like him but many of the things that he says often resonate with me. He worked with Reggae legends Lee “Scratch” Perry and Peter Tosh and he thinks that the government should invest more money into the railways – all good.

I heard him on a Radio 4 programme a couple of months ago talking about the breakthrough years of his career with his partners Stock and Aitken. To my disgust found myself tapping my feet and humming along to many of the tunes that they inflicted during the ‘80s – not good.

The most memorable thing that he said during the interview was that (apart from a wheelbarrow load of luck) a key reason for their success was that they had a clear idea of what they were looking to achieve. He said that they had a “game plan” which they stuck to refusing to allow anything to derail that.

Mr W No2.

Around the same time as the Waterman interview, I was reading an article in the Guardian about Paul Weller. Let me tell you that musically, Weller has always been much more my cup of tea than Waterman. Generally Weller is a man of far fewer words than Waterman. I saw Weller in concert a couple of years ago and he uttered no more than 5 1/2 words over a period of about 2 hours: “this one’s from way back” and “anks”.

Weller has never been afraid to take creative risks. Who in their right mind would deliberately break up one of the top bands of the day, with a massive fan base, to create a new band with a totally different sound and image? As we know, Paul Weller did with great success.

Anyway, in the interview he spoke about the importance, regardless of creative discipline, of continually moving forward creatively and not getting too comfortable: “I think if you’re a creative person, you need to go forward and search and discover” he declares.

Clearly Paul Weller has more time to search and discover than the average creative director, but in my experience, it’s an investment that normally pays off.

What I took from the two Mr Ws was that clarity of focus, a strategy and the confidence to take creative risks could be useful attributes when trying make progress in any area of the creative industry.


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