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© ULI DECK/epa/Corbis
I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time, there were many of us who would click on those stories because we were rooting for those people. We wanted Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston to get better, to seek treatment. We wanted them to be well.
“Yeah, yeah, but if you still click a link, even if you’re trying to send that person the support that you feel, the website is still sending out paparazzi to follow them. And the new lens that’s trained on that person makes their prison cell, their goldfish bowl, that much smaller and more intense. So if those people don’t have good family or good support, their personal issues will come to the fore even harder. I definitely think that we contribute to the pressures they’re under.”
When you sat down to write the song, whether it came to you in waves or all at once, did you deliberate over it? Were you like, “Should I go there?”
“It was easy to do, actually, because it’s something I feel strongly about. I had her in mind, but you know, her story is not uncommon. I could have told you that it was about somebody else and convinced you of that. Amy Winehouse’s story is the same story. I think that’s why it’s relevant. For me, it was easy to write because I think it happens often.
“Music is an amazing thing, and I can understand why people want to follow musicians. Music brings people together. I can play in Beirut, Lebanon, where Muslim, Christian and Jew will all stand in the same building and celebrate music and sing together. I can do that all across the world in different venues, and people will travel to join in. The music is one thing, but the people who play the music, we don’t have to put them on too much of a pedestal. I’m only given a stage because I’m not very tall; otherwise, you wouldn’t see me. [Laughs]
“But at the end of the day, I don’t save a life like a doctor or a nurse; I don’t educate like a teacher. I don’t rebuild a country like an aid worker, and I don’t protect people like the police or the fire department. These are the real celebrities of the world, and it’s worth it to understand that.”
Of course. At the same time, you’ve gotten the letters and e-mails – your music strikes a chord with people and helps them through tough times.
“Absolutely. And I wouldn’t take that away from it. It does do that. Perhaps the music industry confuses that aspect. What do we take away from the MV Music Awards? There’s nothing about the music – it’s all about twerking.”