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“I Just Feel Like a Loser Sometimes”

Part of this morning was spent listening to an interview with Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland from Coldplay on CBC’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi. I am one of those people who has always unapologetically loved Coldplay. I realize that they have grown too popular to be respectably cool anymore—that they are too mainstream, too commercial, too pop, too successful, too rich, too catchy, too whatever. I don’t really care. I have loved every album they have put out so far, and their newest offering, Mylo Xyloto, is no exception, whatever pronouncements might come down from on high via the musical intelligentsia.

The interview itself wasn’t great, truth be told. Ghomeshi is usually very good at asking provocative and interesting questions, but today the conversation seemed to always circle back to some variation of “so what do you think about how great and popular and influential you are?” But there was one part that I found particularly intriguing. At one point, Chris Martin made a comment something to the effect of, “sorry I’m not answering your questions very well, I’m having one of those days where I just have no self-confidence.” Ghomeshi seemed genuinely amazed that such a comment could come from the mouth of one of the frontman of one of the most popular bands in the world. He asked him to explain further. Martin replied, “I just feel like a loser sometimes.”

Well, if Chris Martin feels like a loser sometimes, what hope do the rest of us have, right? Jian Ghomeshi certainly seemed to have a hard time believing that Chris Martin could possibly feel this way. I, on the other hand, had a hard time believing that Ghomeshi was having such a hard time believing it. It just seems like a given, to me. And I guess I found it weirdly reassuring that even the Chris Martins of the world—people whose names and faces are plastered all over the place, who are spectacularly wealthy and influential, who have abilities that most of us can only dream of, who receive praise and adulation at almost every turn—feel like losers sometimes.

Which, I suppose, is just another way of saying that it was good to hear Chris Martin is a very human being who has very human experiences. We all have days where we wonder if we’re any good, if we’re past our “best before” date, if we have anything remotely useful to say, if what is required of us far exceeds our competencies and interests, if we don’t have the energy or creativity to thrive as we would like to, if that negative comment we heard or read really does describe us accurately, if those nice things we heard or read were just said to make us feel better, etc. I know there are people out there who never seem to lack self-confidence, but I wonder if anyone really is immune from the creeping, stealing, deflating feelings of self-doubt.

A while back I began to keep a file that I have very eloquently named my “Feeling Crappy” file. I simply fill it with nice things that people have said about me at some point or another. Letters, emails, comments, memories… it doesn’t matter. Anything will do. For some reason, I have never had any difficulty in remembering (or inventing) the bad stuff. I guess at some point, I just came to the conclusion that because there is more than enough negativity out there in the big bad world, not to mention in here, in my own brain, it’s worth hanging on to and revisiting whatever good and life-giving voices and experiences come my way.

Maybe Chris Martin has a “Feeling Crappy” file too. Maybe he should start one. I don’t know. Interestingly, both Martin and Buckland said that they no longer go on the internet or read reviews of their albums, articles, etc. Some of it is just too nasty. Even the guys from Coldplay, apparently, have to choose to listen to the right voices.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ernie #

    Right on!

    November 17, 2011
  2. Gil #

    Before any musical snobs pile in here with some version of the predictable “Of course Martin feels like a loser; he is one” comment – let me just say amen. And amen.

    November 17, 2011
  3. I had a bit of a different take on the interview as a whole, in that I loved it. The vulnerability of Martin is what I think caught Jian off guard. The authenticity and honest was astounding.

    November 17, 2011
    • I enjoyed the interview, too—just thought some of the questions circled the wagons a bit too much. But you’re right, Martin’s honesty was very refreshing and undoubtedly caught Jian by surprise. All too rare in a world full of cheap, rehearsed, and predictable sound bytes :).

      November 18, 2011
  4. Tanya Duerksen #

    I’ve never understood why musicians or self proclaimed music connoisseurs have to feel embarrassed and apologize about loving a band or a singer who becomes popular. Quickly using the old, “But I liked them before they were popular” excuse. Do they really think the general population (me) are always so dumb as to never recognize a real talent? Sigh, I guess judging by radio play we (me) get it wrong a lot. It seems U2 and Coldplay are some of the only bands the connoisseurs and the general public are allowed to come together on. Anyway… I really liked your post Ryan (as per usual). As a woman who continually fights the urge to sit at the end of the day and analyze everything I said and did so I can berate myself, I often feel like a loser. Not fun. I guess it is hard for me to separate learning from my mistakes and beating myself over the head with them. My road to being perfect included many self-imposed mental beatings. Again, not fun. Thankfully I have started to fight back with prayer as I know that this is not how Christ wants me to live. I think it is resulting in a woman who is a little more confident in who God has made her and a little more comfortable with the gifts I have and do not have. However, I am thinking a “Feeling Crappy” file is a great idea…

    November 18, 2011
    • Tanya Duerksen #

      P.S. The first part of my post was not meant to be a rant. Sorry Ryan. I guess I feel insecure about my music choices sometimes, living with E can do that to a girl. As cute as he is, my husband tends to only listen to music that is not played on the top 20 charts. Despite the man we saw singing in Mexico, most of the music he hums I do not find quite as catchy. Apparently I am feeling overly sensitive today. Again, thanks for the great post.

      November 18, 2011
    • No apology necessary, Tanya. I understand your sentiments very well (even if I can, in extremely rare and highly unusual circumstances, be a bit of a music snob myself… :)).

      I appreciate what you say about becoming more comfortable with the gifts that you do and do not have. This can be a long and painful process for many of us…

      Here’s something for your brand new “Feeling Crappy” file: you are a fantastic friend and a wonderful source of encouragement!

      November 18, 2011
  5. Thanks for sharing. I often find myself feeling somewhat sorry for the famous. They can’t sneeze without the paparazzi inventing some terrible rumour about them…not to mention the hateful things that “fans” can come up with. I suspect that if they are honest, the famous probably feel like losers more often than the rest of us, but they rarely feel free to admit it. I didn’t see the interview, but good for Mr. Martin to admit that he is every bit as human as the rest of us. Your “feeling crappy file” idea is a great one – remembering the *good* things that others have said too/about us is probably the best medicine for getting ourselves out of a funk…on the flip side, going out of our way to give a smile and/or compliment to another person might be the difference between them feeling like a loser or feeling like they are worth something.

    November 18, 2011
    • I agree, Bryan. And thanks for the good reminder to perhaps provide some material for the “Feeling Crappy” files of others :).

      November 18, 2011
  6. Paul Johnston #

    Yes, Gil save us from the musical snobs. 🙂

    I suppose every artist who takes their work beyond it’s materialistic potentials looks to confront the often unexamimned emotions of life lurking just beneath the surface. Particularly the ones that are difficult to acknowledge in ourselves and others. To do so with integrity it would seem that vulnerability is essential. How does one speak remedially of healing if brokenness isn’t felt? Like you, I am at first surprised by Jian’s surprise, until I realize that Jian now works within a context where materialistic outcomes are pretty much the sole priority. I’m not sure my simply analysis is accurate, I do believe Jian himself has made efforts within the arts, and to be fair to the interview it is certainly not as hackneyed and synchophantic as most of the deeply disturbing, (to me anyways), modern entertainment world programming. (I agee with your circle the wagons assessment BTW…more worthy of that “Strombo” blight or the equally unsettling Ben Mulroney)

    As for Coldplay I’ve always thought their genius lay in the intimacy of much of their work. They sing to an “audience of one” as well as any other contemporary artist I have heard. Very often it’s just you and them inside their song. As if they sang it for you or too you. They have the maternal genius of making each one of their children feel as if they are the most special, they are the most loved, without offending the other siblings. Likewise I have not sensed the same sense of triumphalism in their work as one might sense from say…..U2…sorry I couldn’t resist…:)

    What Coldplay, lyrically at least, sees as missing in us; missing for us, seems missing in them; missing for them.

    November 18, 2011
    • Easy on U2… :)!

      November 18, 2011
  7. Paul Johnston #

    I like the “feeling crappy” file. Is this a metaphor for beer or should I really start collecting copies of good things people have said about me…

    Oh dear, I shall die of thirst!!

    November 18, 2011
    • Ah, well I guess that’s open to interpretation isn’t it?

      If you ever make it out west, we’ll sit down for a pint and add to each other’s files :).

      November 18, 2011
      • Paul Johnston #

        You know what, we will someday. 🙂

        November 18, 2011
  8. Shawn #

    Chris Martin’s comments reaffirm one of the reasons I like Coldplay, they seem like people…normal people. They don’t appear to wrap themselves in a celebrity persona. I will admit I don’t usually completely get their lyrics…I just like the way they sound and how they say things. They never write a crappy song, no filler. Beside they call it Pop because it’s popular, which means people like it. Speaking of lyrics and good music, a CD that has been running through my mind for a month is Switchfoot’s Vice Verses. Trying to come to grips with my personal “spiritual disscontent” the songs feel like they were written for me, for right now. Some doubt, affrimation, longing and anger all rolled into one. The theme of there must be a better way (everyone’s a critic) but then talking about actually trying to get there (refreshing). These songs are in my crappy file lately!

    November 28, 2011
    • Thanks, Shawn. Haven’t had a chance to listen to Switchfoot’s album yet, but it sounds like they explore some interesting themes (especially moving beyond the discontent—so easy to stay there…).

      November 28, 2011

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