I have often been criticised for being too outspoken about my musical likes and dislikes. It’s probably fair enough as when I don’t like a particular song or band, chances are I’m pretty vocal about it. In fact, I probably utter the phrase ‘I fucking hate this song’ more often than any other during my waking hours. I have disliked a lot of commercial music ever since I was a primary school kid watching Countdown on the telly and listening to Melbourne’s 3XY on my little transistor radio.

I remember one particular song that really shit me, and still shits me to this day. The song still gets heaps of radio airplay, despite the fact that it is impossibly annoying. The sickly lead vocal whines and bleats it’s way through the nauseating verses, then builds to a chorus that irritates like scabies. The song concludes with a maddeningly jaunty instrumental outro complete with wailing sax and vocal impro. Four minutes and nine sections of cruel and unusual punishment. Any guesses? Yep, you got it. Supertramp’s ‘The Logical Song’. The horror. The horror.

The part of the song that shit me the most when I was a kid is when the lead vocalist pleads pathetically ‘I know it sounds absurd, please tell me who I am.’ Oh fuck off. What do you mean ‘tell me who I am’? You’re you you whingeing bastard. What sort of stupid question is that? Although I have felt no compulsion to record an excruciating song about it, I have to admit I’ve found myself asking that very same question many times since the needle dropped on my midlife crisis.

Many people, myself included, define themselves to a large extent by what they do in their chosen vocation. Your productive work may not be all you are, but it can certainly be a big part. This makes sense, as you put an awful lot of effort into establishing your career, then an awful lot more effort into working at it. Moreover, people are generally drawn to a vocation which interests them and that they are passionate about.

When someone you have just met asks what you do, they are inquiring about what you do for a living (although they are possibly just making small talk and don’t really give a crap). Although not explicitly stated, it is understood that the question pertains to one’s work. Although all of us are more than just our job, not many people would answer this question with ‘amateur athlete’, ‘cannabis user’, ‘bonsai grower’ or any other meaningful and enjoyable hobby. When I left my career, I left of a lot of me behind too. Other aspects of my midlife crisis have also contributed to me losing touch with my sense of self.

If you are sure of who and what you are, it gives you a firm foundation upon which to go about your business. Losing touch with one’s identity is an unsettling state of affairs. You can lose your confidence and your direction, and start questioning your thoughts and behaviours. When someone asks me these days ‘what do you do back in Australia?’, it’s an awkward question to which I mumble an awkward and unsatisfactory answer.

I still hate ‘The Logical Song’, and the entire Supertramp (which is a crap name for a band too, whilst I’m at it) back catalogue. But these days I’m not quite so dismissive of the question that used to annoy me so much as a kid. When I was young I couldn’t understand the question, but I was sure of the answer. Now the question is clear but the answer is not.

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6 responses to “Identity”

  1. Rosslyn Avatar

    Hey Jim, I just love reading your posts because all of what you go through resonates with all of our experience I think. Just got to keep asking the questions and your perseverance will carry you through until suddenly you’ll figure out – hey this is it! Remember half of this world don’t even get around to asking – so good on you and thanks so much for your blog. cheers, Ros

    1. Jim Clayton Avatar
      Jim Clayton

      Hey Ros, thankyou for your kind words and your encouragement. It’s reassuring to hear that others have shared these confusing times. Sometimes, well actually a lot of the time to be honest, I wish I was part of that half of the world that doesn’t get around to asking. Sure would make things easier. However that’s one thing I know isn’t me, so that’s a start even if it’s a curse! I hope things are going well for you and that you’re coping ok with the ongoing lockdown.

  2. Jim Begley Avatar
    Jim Begley

    Only one of the best songs ever…however I dont think i have really listened to the words. Supertramp had some crackin songs.

    1. Jim Clayton Avatar
      Jim Clayton

      Nah can’t stand ’em Begs

  3. Changa Avatar

    Worst song ever, Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”.

    1. Jim Clayton Avatar
      Jim Clayton

      Yeah agreed Changa. That’s another song I never want to hear again. It’s on every set list of every cover band that ever played an Australian rural pub

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