I recall it being around January/Feb 1990. Although unwilling to admit to myself, I was definitely feeling the pressure.
Mick MacNeil, our friend and band mate for the whole of the previous decade, one who had
brought to so much to the music, had finally decided (not entirely unexpectedly) that he no longer wished to play keyboards with
Simple Minds. Simultaneously, although disconnected to that event, Bruce Findlay
our long time manager, mentor, father figure etc, also felt that he had taken Simple Minds as far as he could. In doing
so we found ourselves genuinely bewildered - suddenly without a manager and our greatest supporter.
They say "it never rains, then it pours". Well I could understand that saying easily, as news of various legal disputes also
started to accumulate. In fact, they were business disputes that in the end mostly came to not that much at all. Nevertheless,
against a backdrop of plenty enough turmoil, they certainly added to whatever worries were in the air that surrounded as we licked
our wounds, while also trying to get on with the next bout of songwriting.
After all our record company were already pushing for the next album what was to become Real Life. Plus, no matter what
happens, what disasters unfold etc, Charlie and I just never seem to blink and therefore
the work goes on always. With pressure. And without pressure. As already stated though, we were feeling the strain. My confidence
had taken a major dent.
Plenty of time was spent searching and reviewing how things could have gone so wayward? How communications had broken down?
How disputes had got out of hand etc?
I certainly could see with hindsight how I could have done things differently. But I could also see how we could all have
improved the situation that led to things growing apart.
Quitting however... well that was never an option!
Recalling those days brings me to Tom Petty. How so you may ask? What the hell had Tom Petty to do
with the turbulence blowing through the heart of Simple Minds back in 1990?
While all that stuff was going on, I was living alone for a couple of months, in a rambling house that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean.
I had one book with me and I read it repeatedly. It is called Bhagavad Gita - the Indian classic - a tale that itself takes place
on a battlefield. (Civilisation in turmoil.)
I also had one album continually on rote. It was Tom Petty's latest, and although full of wonderful songs, the song
that called out most to me was I Won't Back Down.
Given what I felt at that time, with all I was going through, how could it not?
That little song of defiance gave so much to me in fact. It reaffirmed how I was going to react in situations when it felt
that "walls are closing in." And it also gave me an attitude that is written through me to this very day.
Thanks for that Tom Petty. Rest In Peace.
Well, I won't back down
No, I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down
4th October 2017