It doesn't speak well for us as a species that when the going gets tough we take solace from the thought that somewhere out there, it's going that little bit tougher for someone else. Lost your job? Well at least you've got your health, unlike Mrs Jones whose just been struck down with that rare, tropical flesh eating disease. Wife left you? Just count yourself lucky it wasn't for your twin brother, citing you sexual inadequacies as a reason, like the couple on this talk show I saw; that kind of thing.
These pearls of consolation are usually dispensed by our nearest and dearest, who in times of trouble often prove themselves most skilled in making light of our own problems whilst simultaneously making fun of other people's. Occasionally though, for reasons that may include but are not limited to: an absence of any friends or family; a strong dislike and/or long running feud with all your friends and family; or an outstanding phone bill which leads your network provider to disconnect your phone making it very difficult to contact your friends and family, people turn to the next best shoulders to cry on - the shoulders' of artists.
Artists, we think, are great. They're such tortured souls! Such fragile creatures! They spend their lives sharing their innermost thoughts, fears and desires with a cruel world. They've had their fair share of hardships. Some of them even had to wait until they had died before people they decided they were actually quite good after all. When Van Gogh got dumped he didn't just mope around the house, he lopped his own ear off. With an artist it's like your meeting Mrs Jones with the flesh eating disease in the flesh. They exist to tell us mere mortals - "yes your life may be a bitch, but mine's a mother fucker, which anyway you want to look at it is worse".
Take the King, Elvis Aaron Presley, when his baby left him, he was forced to move into a hotel, literally named the Heartbreak Hotel, which - and you're not going to believe this - was actually on the corner of a Lonely Street! Elvis is reminding us we've no right to complain about the breakdown of our own relationships until we are forced to move into substandard accommodation situated on cruelly named roads. Or what about poor John Winston Lennon?
Although fronting the most successful act in musical history, the demands of an unreasonable and unnamed girlfriend (I'm guessing Yoko), meant he had to take up additional employment carrying out demeaning dog's work. Clearly traumatised by the whole experience John doesn't go into specifics, but it most likely involved the guarding of property and the herding of sheep. No wonder he lost the ability to tell whether it was morning or evening. We may moan about the demands of work ruining or lives, but remember, we've got the EU Working Time Directive, the Beatles didn't.
There's only one problem... it's all lies. Elvis Presley was a man so attractive that his entire bottom half had to be banned from American television after scientists discovered that witnessing Memphis Flash's gyrating hips was in fact 13 times more dangerous than staring directly at a solar eclipse. The notion that a sentient being would leave "the pelvis" of their own volition is not only far-fetched, it directly contradicts the laws of physics. John Lennon meanwhile drove around in a psychedelic Rolls Royce and was so disinclined to work in the traditional sense, that when protesting the Vietnam War he decided a sit in protest somewhere significant required too much stamina and opted for a bed-in one in his hotel room instead. The war continued unabated.
Start looking and you begin to realise just how widespread deception of this sort is. The Rolling Stones claim they are perennially dissatisfied despite the fact that the lead guitarist is allowed to dress up fulltime like a pirate. Janis Joplin could have afforded her own Mercedes Benz without praying for divine intervention and she knew it. Dolly Parton hasn't put in a 9-5 shift since God knows when and as for Bob Geldof - he may not like Mondays - but it's not like he's got to get up and actually do anything on them, or indeed any other day of the week for that matter.
Opinion is split, but a school of thought exists which says successful artists may have been people once. Some even believe they may have contended with the same misfortunes as the rest of us. Nobody however, not even the artists themselves, believe that they still do so now. Hearing millionaires' sing of their money worries and heartthrobs' lament their heartaches I can't shake the feeling we're the butt of a joke. A joke told by imposters, who, like an alien race, visit our world of pain for inspiration, ape or torments, turn them into 3 minute catchy pop songs and then sell them back to us for the privilege.