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Sunday 11 December 2016

His music may be 'torture' to some but Nathan's quick on the bandwagon

Nathan Carter
Nathan Carter

Nathan Carter's a smart man. He heard the news that a man had his windows broken because he played Carter's Wagon Wheel once too often; instead of seeing bad publicity, Nathan saw an opportunity to sell a few tickets.

The incident happened in Coleraine in January and came before a Northern Ireland court this week. The court heard that Stephen John Leighton had become irked by hearing Wagon Wheel emanating from an upstairs flat. So irked that he marched upstairs and issued one of the world's great threats - "If I hear Wagon Wheel one more time I'm going to break that stereo".

The threat went unheeded, so Leighton busted two windows in his neighbour's flat. The police arrived and it would appear that Leighton reacted badly to this, as he received a suspended jail sentence for assaulting the officers and a stg£200 (€259) fine for criminal damage.

He pleaded guilty, but his lawyer argued as a mitigating factor that repeated exposure to Nathan Carter was a form of 'psychological torture'.

Many artists would react badly to having their work described as psychological torture. But not Nathan. He has a thick enough skin and a canny enough business sense to see it as an opportunity.

He said social media lit up when the verdict came in, so he decided to give the fan with the broken windows free tickets to a Belfast gig.

Clearly Nathan has the self confidence to realise that the issue was one of repetition, not musical taste (only Justin Beiber could beget a brick through a window on just one play).

Of course, Carter is not alone in discovering his music was used to torture people. The CIA made the repetitive playing of extremely loud music a cornerstone of their Guantanamo interrogation programme.

Favourites included Eminem, Dr Dre, Queen and, most unspeakably of all, the theme song from Barney the Dinosaur. Imagine being locked in a roasting hot cell having that happy purple one roaring about 'loving you' again and again and again? That's the definition of cruel and unusual.

What sets Nathan apart is that the story of his music being used this way plays into a pre-existing prejudice many have against him. A lot of people don't like him.

Not because he's a bad guy. Not because his songs are bad. But because he doesn't fit their definition of 'cool'. There's a sneering disregard of him and his squeaky clean country image. It's as if you are somehow less clever if you enjoy listening to Wagon Wheel.

If the song had become popular when first recorded it would be up there as a classic. Why? Because Bob Dylan recorded it. Anything with 'Dylan' attached is automatically cool.

Thankfully, Nathan can shake off the negativity and respond with positivity and generosity. You play Wagon Wheel as loud as you want Nathan. Although just the once, please.

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