Since there have been Gods, there have been worshippers. And since there have been worshippers, there have been Gods…

It’s Monday morning and the city yawns as it stretches itself awake. The garbageman pounds a Bo-Diddley beat on the side of the truck to tell his compadre to mosey on. A cabbie hums along to Mahler on the taxi’s radio while his day job bound passenger has a remix of Tchaikovsky’s cannons pounding in his hungover temples.

A be-dreadlocked gentleman listens to Jimmy Cliff while he smokes his morning rollie outside the hipster café he calls his workplace. A fitness-freak jogs past in time with the electro-pop blasting out of her headphones, almost colliding with a spectacularly attired young girl in a My Chemical Romance t-shirt.

“Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one” as Dirty Harry Callahan remarked with his trademark eloquence. From the bartender who should be running the country to his drunken congregation, they all tune to different radio stations.

Ergo, therefore, and hence; everybody’s a critic.

We shall call them ‘The Crowd’.

Rock n’ roll is no stranger to Death. Grim’s scythe has harvested the souls of many rock Gods. It is The Crowd, however, that harvest the souls of their careers.

Merciless and fickle masters, The Crowd plucks stars from the tiny, tacky rock clubs and back-alley dives and raises them up on to the stage.

Then, with but a gesture, The Crowd sweeps them from that stage. Leaving only a handful of hopefuls treading the boards with blistered fingers and inflated egos.

Fewer still than that handful will rise further, leaving the Demi-Gods to be worshipped by their cult followings. Rising up to have their names written in the stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

But even those stars, set in concrete and forged of metal, will fade as their inscribed names and namesakes fade from memory. This is no Oscar Wilde fairytale. The stars don’t age in place of the Gods like Dorian Grey’s portrait. 

And the Gods age fast. They grow from young and beautiful to old and rugged. Drug busts, sex scandals, auto wrecks and rock n’ roll all carve lines into their sculpted features.

Features sculpted from the desires of The Crowd. The Crowd lives vicariously while the Gods live viciously the life The Crowd wants so desperately. A life of leisure and luxury.

We sacrifice our hard-earned time and cash to the Gods we made. So they can keep on living and so can we. Living viciously and vicariously.

Until, the day comes when the spotlight shines on someone else. The Crowd has grown tired of yesterday’s Gods and is toying with today’s. Whether the old Gods still walk among us is now unimportant. The charts are a battle ground of trends and fads, novelty and art. It doesn’t matter who/what wins. There will be new Gods, and there will be old Gods. Always have been. Always will be

.

Occasionally, there is a resurrection. And yesterday’s Gods stomp the boards once more. However, their places of worship are rarely the hallowed enormodomes now. They tour the casino circuits and mid-sized venues. Pedalling nostalgia and parody.

While, today’s pop Gods sell-out the arenas and stadiums that once held their rock n’ roll forebears. Accepting our offerings and growing fat and rich.

But lurking in those tacky rock clubs and back-alley dives are tomorrow’s divinities. Eyeing up the competition and the spoils and realising there’s only so much to go around. There’s only so much attention.

And the circle remains unbroken.

In all ancient cultures, the Gods created the world and are worshipped by their devoted out of gratitude and fear. But in the 21st century, The Crowd creates The Gods in their own image.

Which begs the question; are the Gods the creators, or the worshipped? We placed them on their pedestals. And we take them down again. Many are mightier than few. Even Gods can’t compete with sheer numbers.

The billions of dreams, ideals, expectations and flaws we hold dear, that we are grateful for and make up what we consider to be a romantic perfection. That is what we make our Gods out of. Some of them can even sing.

It has to be remembered that these are mortal Gods. Like the Greek and Roman pantheons, our Gods are driven by mortal desires and emotions; desire, lust, rage, happiness and serenity. Even the memories of those mighty Greek Gods past are mortal. And just like the sheen on Hollywood Boulevard’s stars will grow dull. So will the memories of our Gods.

They will fade to black as the t-shirts wear out, the posters on our bedroom walls grow frayed and torn and the albums become scratched beyond all salvation. We don’t immortalise our Gods in idols of stone and icons of stained glass these days. The poor bastards don’t stand a chance.

But the vicious cycle will carry on; the creation and dismissal of new Gods at the hands of The Crowd.

And the battle will rage between the headliners and the support act. The constant competition for our attention that ends at 11:30PM sharp, lest they invoke the wrath of curfew-breaking fines.

We’ll still cheer. We’ll still sing along when the singer points the mic at the crowd ‘cause his throat’s tired. And t-shirts will be sold and albums downloaded illegally and taxis taken home. Sacrifices of time and money will be gratefully given and accepted. There will always be an old. And there will always be a young.

They, the young and old that is, will look down on each other with misunderstanding and contempt. The young mould new Gods in their unworked hands while the old cradle theirs in calloused palms.

Gods come and go. The Crowd is immortal.

So, as Neil Gaiman put it “believe everything.” Just remember that there are no such things as Gods.

Only the worshippers. And their idols and icons.

by James Fleming

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