There seem to be a lot of people still tying themselves into extreme pretzels trying to work out whether to remain in the EU, or leave. Because I am infinitely wise I thought I’d boil down the whole complex issue for you, using as an exemplar the life of the AC/DC rhythm guitarist, Malcolm Young.
1. Complex harmony
Many factors have led to AC/DC continuing to be stadium favorites after nearly forty years. The explosive six-string pyrotechnics of Angus Young, of course; songs compelling enough to make BACK IN BLACK one of the ten best-selling albums of all time; the tightest rhythm section in history, especially in the gold standard Young/Rudd/Williams configuration; and a crunching, dependable juggernaut of a live show. But the real magic comes from the interplay between Angus and Malcolm’s guitar work. If you listen carefully it's a lot more subtle than power chords being thudded out in 4/4 time. The sly, prowling rhythms are distinctive, of course — but in addition, they’re sharing the notes. Rather than follow the standard practice of having one guy thump the chords out and the other put something fancy on top, Angus and Malcolm distribute the individual notes of all of the chords between them, and then syncopate the result — yielding a richness of texture that no other rock band has ever equalled.
That’s what being part of a union of countries, is, too. Sharing and distributing the job, the style, the song of being European — each country contributing its cultural qualities and helping build something that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s hard. It requires work and vision, and there will be some bum notes. But retreat from this mature collaboration of equals and you’re just some kid playing Stairway to Devon by yourself in your bedroom.
2. Step up and face the challenges
The last time I saw AC/DC was at Wembley in 2009. It’ll be last time I see them live, partly because the experience showed that I am now too old and fragile to spend an evening in the mosh pit of a major stadium gig (it’s like having the crap beaten out of you for six hours); also because it was Malcolm’s last UK performance. Nobody but the band knew at that stage that he’d been exhibiting signs of early-onset dementia. By this point in the Rock and Roll Train tour he was forgetting the chord sequences of hits he’d been playing for thirty years, and having to relearn them in the afternoon before each performance.
Just try to wrap your head around that for a moment. How it must make you feel, to confront that level of frailty within yourself, to have no choice but to acknowledge the cold winds of oncoming mortality. And then to do what it takes to overcome it, and walk out on stage in front of sixty thousand people and do your job like a fucking boss.
Being a country is hard. Dealing with other countries is hard, putting aside national priorities for the sake of a greater good takes character, and helping find solutions to problems like immigration is part of the job of being a mature country. Malc has now retired from the band — because half the time he doesn’t know who he is any more. Britain should know who it is, and be confident of manifesting its qualities on a European stage instead of hiding in a safe, stuffy cupboard like an insecure, bolshy child.
Britain — be like Malcolm: stand at the back, not demanding the spotlight, and dig in and work in the face of challenge and adversity. Don’t run away like some whining, racist, small-minded Daily Mail-reading cess-pool of lazy, insular tossers. [Editor - you may want to tone this down a bit. MMS - no, I really don’t.]
3. It’s not about the money
A number of years ago a journalist asked how long AC/DC would keep at it, implying they were dinosaurs staggering around the touring circuit purely for the cash. Malcolm is said to have replied: “Look, the family’s worth over a hundred and fifty million dollars now, mate. You really think we’re still doing this for the fucking money?”
History has shown time and again that nobody has a reliable fix on the economics of running a 7-Eleven, never mind an entire country. Anybody who claims to know the effect of either being in or out of the EU is deluded or lying. Nobody has a clue what they’re talking about, and their pronouncements are worthless. Yes, it may cost us to remain. It’ll sure as hell cost us to leave. Nobody knows how to do those sums. It’s not about the money. It's about collective dedication and cultural diversity and inclusivity. It’s about being European.
Before the last ice age, Britain was attached to the mainland. Under the water, it still is. To pretend otherwise is to be swayed by self-serving bullshit spilled by... Well, let’s look at these guys:
Michael Gove — a man who has already demonstrated what a threat to worthwhile social values he is, and whose own father has called him out for telling lies about his childhood to bolster arguments for leaving the EU.
Nigel fucking Farage — a man who basically like the chairman of some dreary local golf club in the 1970s, running the place with smug, matey bonhomie (and quietly turning down applications from black people and Jews and women) until it turns out he’s been skimming the funds for years to pay for sex with underage badgers.
And of course, dear, bumbling Boris — a cold, smart, arrogant bastard masquerading as a buffoon, who’s been telling lies about the EU for decades and is now turning it up to eleven for the chance to be the worst Prime Minister we’ve ever had.
Everybody wants to be the lead guitarist, to get all the attention, to spend their lives saying “Look at me! I'm special!” The truth is it’s the musicians and countries with the maturity and character to stand there serving the band and getting the job done that contribute most positively to history.
I freely accept there’s no compelling reason for you to give a crap what I think, but just in case my position isn’t yet clear: don’t let this trio of lying, self-aggrandizing wankstains scare you into dissolving union with some of the most fascinating, extraordinary countries in the world, thus losing the chance to help shape a future we can be proud of, rather than embarrassed by.