I was -15 years old when The Beatles broke up, so I couldn’t very well shed tears of artistic bereavement for their sakes. I have liked bands since; some I have even loved, particularly in recent times – the present one seems to have turned into the year of gigging dangerously, and I like that. But there’s only been one other band whose music has seeped into my soul with the same hectic, boundless energy as that of the most renowned Scousers who ever breathed. A band without which the year of gigging dangerously, to be perfectly frank with you, would probably not be happening. That band was The Ark, and by “was” I mean to say that as of precisely a month ago, they are no longer.
The break-up, against all odds in such cases as these, was a thing of sheer beauty, hardly deserving such a jaggedly hyphenated accolade. No pointed fingers, no bitter accusations or back-stabbing press releases, just enough maturity to realise that the dream had run its course. To the fans, the gift of an epic farewell tour I can only egoistically wish had included my neck of the woods, and the desire that the end of an era may mark the beginning of another, full of wondrous new possibilities for all of us. Triumphant in their unadulterated joie de vivre to the last, they went and upheld everything they meant to me and others.
I would feel shock at their not being bigger than they were, except bigness is not measured in the pervasiveness of brand names, but rather in the staying power within ears and hearts open to being wooed and won. I would say their songs changed me forever, except what they really did was help me to find a self which I thought I had lost – which is everything. Their happy beat in my step and awakening words in my lungs, I have shouted out my identity to the world loud enough to be heard inside my own head, where it was needed most. Hand in hand with their gleeful take on the life worth living, I rose from the ashes whereto I had burned myself, a beaming little phoenix. I would say I worshipped them, except what they really did was pat me on the back as we jointly revelled in one another’s awesomeness.
I’ve got nothing to say to them, then, except this.
Thank you, boys. Thank you for the laughter of recognition and the refusal to give in to sadness; thank you for the pride and the dancing, the tenderness and the bold choices, the ideals but never the anger. Thank you for saying things that needed saying in a tone that begged to be sung along to, never giving in to pity, always fighting shame with love. Thank you for dreaming in such spectacular Technicolor, and most importantly, thank you for letting us dream by your side.
I would say R.I.P., except you’ve gone and made yourselves immortal.