from the world's big
Saying Goodbye to the Band
David Gray is an English singer-songwriter. His most recent album is Draw the Line. Although he released his first studio album in 1993, he did not receive worldwide attention until the release of White Ladder six years later. It was the first of three UK chart-toppers in six years for Gray, the latter two of which also made the Top 20 in the U.S.
Question: What led up to changing the makeup of your band?
David Gray: Changing the band was a huge decision but one that came to me gradually. But really, doing the making of Life in Slow Motion in 2004 and 2005, I already knew. I could sense that whatever had been there once wasn't there anymore. Things come and go, and people change. and obviously we had been through a lot together: we have been very compressed, making records, touring, TV studios, all rubbing against each other and everyone needs a bit of space.
But everyone makes sense of success in a different way and I think some people try to horde it as if it proves something. Whereas, for me I find that it's useless beyond the point of itself and it doesn't mean you're justified making another good record—just because you made a good one once doesn't justify the next one. It moves on, as you see, at an alarming rate. People make a great record and then you never hear from them again. What happened? Did something get trapped inside their heads that shouldn't be there? It's like that. So there's a degree of transparency – you have to surrender the past and go, “Okay, well that was all well and good. Here we go again.” Because you have no right, the next thing you do, etc., etc.
So I felt that certain people were looking at things differently and there was a degree of complacency, which isn't there for me when I write and do things. But basically it just wasn't as much fun, or it wasn't as sparky as it could've been, and I sensed the thing you fear the most, which is that we were going to repeat ourselves any time now. Also, I throw out certain sort of ideas, sort of templates of ideas in terms of the way it form the words for that kind of tempo of songs, or the mood of songs and the same people react in a similar way unless they have some rabid, ferocious appetite for reinvention. And unless they’re all the little individual Radioheads and want to sort of tear everything up just for the sake of it, you find that you start to make the same kind of songs, and that’s what was starting to happen.
So, its part of a sort of – it was a difficult thing to say good-bye, particularly to Clune because he – well they were all very talented people and we had a brilliant time, and they had done great things. But, Clune was the big one. He was there with me through all of the years of misery and hardship, or nearly all of them anyway, missing the first couple. And he's such a big-hearted guy and was such the heartbeat of my whole sound for a while. So, saying goodbye to Clune was really a big deal. So I went and saw him personally and there's no nice way of putting it; I just basically said I need a new challenge and I'm going to have to move on. I don't know what the future holds, we might work together again. So these things are awkward moments.
Question: How did he respond to you?
David Gray: Well I think he sensed it was coming so he just thought that maybe I was moving in a sort of direction that he didn't really want to go in and he sort of said that, or he seemed to be wanting to go back more to this almost kind of like a folkie type of sound. And he was more interested in more of the pop element. And that's how we've sort of worked it out for himself that I was going off on a different tangent slightly. So, you know, [it’s a] “Good luck” kind of thing.
It was difficult getting rid of everything when there was nothing yet to replace it. But as soon as you have the need, you find people and you find what you need. It's interesting how works. It's like; it makes you realize that you ‘never hear the melody until you're needing the song.’ It's a Tom Waite’s lyric. Applying that metaphor to many things in life, it's true of people and it's true of all kinds of things. It's like if you are incredibly wealthy and there's actually no reason for you to do what you do pretty much, you can tell yourself you're still doing it for the right reasons but it definitely changes the equation. Whereas, if you absolutely knew that you'd spent all of your money on some crazy sort of binge, or on the whatever, holidays, Ferraris, toy soldiers, it doesn’t really matter. But then you've got nothing suddenly and in different fire to that when you are powered by the fact that you actually do need material things and you’re going to have to get them quick. It puts you in a different headspace.
Question: Did that attitude carry over to the new record?
David Gray: That was basically the headspace I was in for this record because we chose not to sign all our deals; we chose to go it alone, because it was a changing world and a brave new world will be coming along any time soon. No one told us about the dead horse, look at him, staring at the world of diminishing returns was the only one that was actually coming around the corner. But, we felt it was better to be free within that than shackled to some dying beast. But as a consequence, the finances, every aspect of making the record was very much – there was a much more sober light cast on everything. Which I think is vital, and when financial stuff was going down, and my own finances got messed up, it was very real, and it was quite stressful actually. But I actually thought it was good. It was like; well at least we are in the real world. Fucked like everyone else. It’s like rather than reclining on some giant pillow of wealth and sort of sympathizing with people. It wasn’t like that and it didn’t feel like that. So, there was something positive about it. There’s an element of risk, not only creative risk in changing everything and in the way we recorded which was basically all or nothing. We had to get the take with the vocals, or we don’t get anything.
And likewise, in the broader sense of the business side of it, which always has a huge amount to play in the making of any creative project. What the thinking was around it and behind it. So, anyway, we were on sort of similar lines on not so different levels and that’s led to this sort of vitality of what this is which I think is very plugged in to just being alive now.
Recorded on: September 21, 2009
It was a difficult but important decision for David Gray when he decided to move on from his original band that he travelled with from obscurity to multi-platinum fame. Gray told Big Think the story and stressed the importance of being motivated to make music by necessity, not by money.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>