I have to admit the music business has got to me this week. I find it frustrating when my record is off and flying in some territories while in others I can't seem to get arrested. Fans from the countries where I'm struggling to get heard often write me incredulous messages asking why the song/album is not available in their region or why the radio stations are not playing it and I can offer no decent explanation for them. I would love to say that its all down to cultural differences and my music appeals to certain societies and not others but I know this isn't true. Its much more complex and behind-the-scenes political than that. I have to stay patient.
I try and focus on the amazing success of the record so far and the fact that this time last year I was contemplating quitting the business as the bills kept flowing in and I'd thrown everything into making this album. My manager went unpaid for the best part of three years as we focused on getting a release. We shopped around for a deal unsuccessfully until finally forced to look outside the UK for a contract.
We were heard loud and clear by Universal Berlin who signed us without hesitation and put the first single out a few months later. I could not have dreamt the success that has followed so I need to be grateful for that and stop my whingeing!
The BBC aired a documentary this week featuring one of my idols, Bill Withers. From the southern State of Virginia, Bill enlisted in the Navy as a young man then made toilets in a factory for aircrafts. He didn't get a record deal until well into his thirties, as a chronic stammer had prevented him from previously expressing himself. After an intense period of success he stopped making records all together in the mid 80s as the realities of the music industry took their toll.
I can relate to so much of what he said about being misunderstood by record labels. Musically, he broke a lot of their rules and didn't fit neatly into any of the musical categories they had so clearly defined. He made honest straightforward records which struck a chord with real people but were often under threat from the opinions of record executives. Grandma's Hands remains one of my all time favourite tunes.
Due to a few cancellations last week I managed to escape to the Swiss mountains for some snowboarding. There's a little town called CransMontana near Sierre that I go to most years and its where I first learnt to board after playing a festival in the mountains. The fresh air, amazing views, good food and extreme sport make it the ideal getaway for me. The weather was so nice we were boarding in t-shirts by the last day.
Upon returning I learnt that a bus had crashed in a tunnel near where I was staying killing 28 people, mostly children. I have driven through those tunnels so many times and it was a bit of a shock to see the appalling scenes on TV. My heart goes out to the family's of the victims and I cannot imagine what they must be feeling. Not the type of news you want to hear before heading of on a tour of Europe in a bus...