I’ve had very little exposure to Pharrell Williams. About a year ago I saw him on TV for the first time, and have seen him only three or four times since. Today, I saw him interviewed, and his comments took me by surprise.
The interviewer kept trying to make him talk about himself and his achievements. But Williams kept turning the praise back to those who have helped him along the way, beginning with his grandmother who encouraged him to get into music. He then named three of his high school band directors by name, and gave them credit for his success.
Williams, now 41, said his earliest music was basically “about me trying to fit in and sound like everyone else, which had no good purpose.” Since then he has done a good bit of self-analysis and decided that his music should be about others, not about himself.
Once again, the interviewer wanted to talk only about HIS talent, HIS popularity, and HIS achievements in the world of pop music. And they are quite impressive. Williams has topped the charts in 27 countries with his #1 song, “Happy.”
Pharrell is easily recognized in his quirky hat, and is often stopped on the street to pose with fans for a selfie. Those fans come in every color and range in age from 2 to 82. He said, “They bring a toddler up to me and say, ‘This is the Happy Man.’ ”
When asked if he likes that title, Williams said, “I’m thankful” to be called the Happy Man. The journalist doesn’t buy that answer, insisting that it will probably always stick with him. “What else do I have any other business being but appreciative? This is not my doing.”
Again the journalist tries to discuss his rise to stardom due to his “stars aligning.” Williams counters his argument saying, “I’m happy to be alive. The stars don’t always align for everyone.”
Once more the interviewer tries to guide Williams toward self-aggrandizement. His final answer is even more revealing of a young man who knows himself and doesn’t buy into the strategy.
“I think that’s when you fail, when you start trying to figure out what you’re best at. That’s when you become delusional, because you start to believe that stuff. You see people spinning out of control like that all the time. It’s one of the most tragic stories about the most gifted people who start to believe ‘It’s all me!’ It can’t be all you! Just like you need air to fly a kite, it’s not the kite, it’s the air.”
Pharrell Williams has learned a life lesson that may just help him avoid crashing as we see so many other celebrities do. Let’s hope this guy continues to keep his head on straight beneath that funny hat.