Saturday, 30 January 2010
Time and a Buzzcock
‘And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you’
In fact they are wrong; ten years doesn’t so much get behind you as sprint away to the distant horizon as fast as its legs will carry it i.e. about the speed of light, never to be seen again. We all suffer from its effects but none more so than music.
As I was watching last season’s Strictly Come Dancing I was struck by three things:
1. I wonder if Motown writing team Holland, Dozier and Holland are being paid royalties? Their songs, now 40+ years old, are constantly in evidence and are used for all manner of dances – which just goes to show that their appeal then is the same as their appeal now – they are irresistible dance tunes.
2. I realised what a great song the Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There’ is. I knew this really, but the interpretation by the session players in the BBC band was really, really good and it just underlined the fact. Actually this happens quite a lot. I end up ignoring the dancing and getting engrossed in the interpretations of some great songs.
3. I wonder what the Buzzcocks thought of their ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ being danced to by the World Latin Dance Champions?
Whilst items one and two are interesting in themselves and show a sort of timelessness to songs that are clearly classics, it was point three that got me to thinking about the effect of time on music. Back in 1978, when Punk was raging and trying its hardest to upset the established order but only succeeding in mutating into the more acceptable New Wave, songs such as this were part of the genre. They were performed at breakneck speed with buzzing guitars and snarled lyrics just daring anyone over about 18 to like them. They were specifically designed not to appeal to older listeners who may after all be, gulp, Genesis fans.
Forty years later, they are being performed by smooth cabaret singers on the bastion of middle England, the BBC, on prime Saturday night TV appealing to a vast cross section of society. The basic arrangement is still there but the guitars have been neutered and the drums muted. What remains is the song and this is the key, it still stands up on its own. Pete Shelley’s lament to lost love has stood the test of time and over the intervening period has transcended the genre that spawned it. Even Genesis fans will like it now and I’d love to know what Pete feels about it.