JOHN PORTER AND I
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One of the comparisons that try as I may, I will never be able to escape from is between myself and John Porter. It’s a little strange as I would never compare Tomasz Stańko to “Bajerful” despite them both being Poles who enjoy considerable success outside of Poland, but nevertheless it’s a comparison I’ve had to get used to, us being two Brits living in Poland. I wonder when people stopped asking him why he came to Poland, for me it’s a question I’m still regularly asked.
One of the most important things for all artists is to never run away from their muses. The reason I’ve decided to stay in Poland for so long has nothing to do with women, carp for Christmas, nor English breakfast tea served with lemon, but everything to do with the fact that I have my muses right here. In my opinion the best songs are generally composed when emotions are at their strongest. These emotions could be emotions of love, maybe hate or perhaps disgust, but for me the important thing is that Poland gives me all of these feelings. When your life is stagnant, plain and a certain world-weariness or resignation has set in, melodies rapidly disappear and words sound like a cheap regurgitated version of everything that you’ve written before - I could name a couple of artists that have become a parody of themselves in terms of their output, but it would be considered the height of bad manners to do so. When you have a sense of vitality, your eyes absorb everything, the words and melodies in turn possess this vitality and you can really express yourself with a distinct originality, this is how I feel in Poland and this is why I have no intention of leaving in the near future.
I’m not sure why John Porter has decided to stick around Poland for so long, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s for exactly the same reasons – if you feel at your most creative in a country, any country, why leave? The potential for songs to be written here is immense: Preachers owning multi-million pound organisations; poor villages finding enough money to finance huge statues of Jesus, endless conspiracy theories about plane crashes or leaders that have hanged themselves - Poland really is the place to be if you want material for songs! In the words of Orson Welles’s character Harry Lime in the film “The Third Man”: “In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, and they had 500 years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock”. I think Harry Lime would love Poland right now!