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Fame Without Talent

From the Album The Workhouse Child

The bar’s almost empty, stale smoke fills the air
He’s finished his last song
He puts down his guitar, but nobody cares
How much longer can this go on

He’s sung with a passion the songs of his life
As they talked and they drank their beer
A troubadour walks on the edge of a knife
Waiting for a break to appear

Just as he’s leaving someone calls out his name
A drunk at the bar, who’s sipping his shame
Come sit down beside me, I have something to say
I’ve come here a distance just to hear you play

I see by your face, you know who I am
I’m one of the kings of guitar
But I’d give anything, to play like you can
So much for the superstar

Fame without talent is a curse my friend
It’s a rod on your back that will never bend
It’s a fire in your heart that will never burn
But just smoulder and choke your soul
Smoulder and choke your soul

I don’t know how I made it, it just happened one day
When they wrote that I played like a king
But they’ll say what you want, as long as somebody pays
And if you want, you’ll believe anything

For a while I believed them and held my head high
And saw what I wanted to see
But a day never passed when I didn’t hear
Someone playing much better than me

But you’ve got real talent and one day I’m sure
You’ll also be famous and hear the crowds roar
But no matter how long I’m playing this game
I’ve nothing to offer but a face and a name

They laugh at you now ‘cause they don’t understand
The power you hold deep inside
But at the end of the day, it’s what you think of yourself
That allows you to stand there with pride


In 1990, I did a summer season in a holiday camp, and the cabaret artist was a musician who had been famous in the sixties. The audience lapped him up and were oblivious to the fact that he was really not very good. How hard it must be for those who are acclaimed as brilliant musicians when nearly every time they turn on the radio or hear a street busker, they hear someone playing better than them.