As Ringo Starr put it in his 1971 number one (in Canada) song It Don’t Come Easy, you’ve “got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues”. Not so long ago people seemed to understand that certain processes had to be followed to achieve certain end results. There was a system, you worked your way up. Now it would appear the technology driven society in which we live is primed for short cuts. Skip the whole dues-paying concept and jump right to the end point.
Unless you’ve been under a rock you must have noticed that they now sell jeans, often at exorbitant prices, that come ready to wear, holes and all. Time was when you bought a pair of jeans they were so stiff they’d just about stand up on their own. The first few wearings were absolute misery. People had their own special remedies and recipes to alleviate the discomfort. Everything from sitting in a hot or cold bath wearing the jeans, and maybe some salt, maybe some soap all the way to pounding the new jeans in mud with a hockey stick.
Once wearable the jeans became more comfortable over time. Regular – but not too frequent – washing, but no dryer please, would make your jeans soft and oh so fine. Eventually, but hopefully not too soon, with usual wear holes would start to emerge. These were, of course, signs of character rather than defects. But the key here was that you had to earn your holes, you couldn’t, or wouldn’t, buy jeans with ready made holes. Nor would you intentionally create rips or tears. Why not just go to a trophy store and get yourself something for the mantle? Or pick up some stripes and give yourself an instant promotion to sergeant?
Well that was then, now folks want to sing those blues without having ever paid a due. Yet I imagine they’d have you believe the $200 price tag for the pre-holed jeans is payment enough. But it doesn’t work that way. The true process must be followed. You can buy stuff in a carton with which you can make an omelet, but as we all know, you can’t make a real omelet without breaking a few eggs. It may look the same, but, like jeans, it goes deeper than mere appearances.
Of course one can always ask if Ringo himself had paid his dues. There are those who refer to Starr as the luckiest guy in Britain in the early sixties, having been taken on by the Beatles just before they rocketed to legendary stardom.