The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul

by Patrick Schabe

27 October 2006


There is no mansion and no country estate.  There is no fancy sports car collection, nor luxury yacht, nor private jet.  The road to becoming one of alternative rock’s most influential artists of the last 30 years has not been paved with riches and rock and roll status symbols.  There is no museum, no shrine.  Not even a framed gold or platinum album hanging on the wall (though not for lack of sales).

In fact, rather than being a rags to riches story of musical salvation and material excess, it’s a life story enlivened by managerial fraud and graft, financial ruin, frustrated success, marital collapse, industry restraints, and reclusive defiance. 

So why does Andy Partridge seem so calm, so happy, so content?

Perhaps because after thirty years in the music industry, struggling against all manner of odds and potential ends, Partridge is finally comfortably ensconced in the place he has carved out for himself.  Perhaps it’s that after a strange career marked equally by praise and indifference, the legacy of his work is finally beginning to speak for itself. It certainly must have something to do with achieving that ideal of artistic independence that has wound its Elysian thread through rock history.  No matter how modest, as humble as a daisy, it is a niche that Partridge fought for and fashioned to his design.  And after years of conflict, the future is finally his on his own terms.

As Partridge explains in his own words, “My expectations of success are that sort of weird invisible horn that grows out of your head and waves around thinking ‘Wow! Where’s success?  Where is it?’  I think it shriveled up and dropped off a long time ago.  To me, success is really making enough money to be able to carry on making music.  That’s success.”

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