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All Wound Up

December 13, 2009

I’m not unconvinced I was born in the wrong generation.  I saw Pirate Radio (released in the UK and Europe as The Boat that Rocked) a few weeks ago and ate up the soundtrack.  There were no squeaky voiced women going on about sunshine and phone calls, or equally squeaky emo bands trying to sound earnest without popping their tight pants.  It was the Kinks and the Who, the Beach Boys and Dusty Springfield.  Lots of pop music from back when there was such a thing as good pop music.  My generation has Britney Spears.  Let’s back away slowly.

Hang on minute, though.  Just now I was reading an interview with Joe Strummer that somebody submitted to Fark.  In it he says that he forces himself to listen to the radio as a masochistic kind of inspiration.  “Every time Bob Geldof comes out with that emotionless eunuch’s voice, it boosts me ten miles in the soul, just for the irritation.”  Eventually it nags at you so badly you just have to go write an antidote.  It’s a tricky theory to prove, but I think the Clash’s musical output speaks for itself.

People always say that raw talent is fine.  It’s artists who build on their talent and really work at it who produce the best stuff.   Maybe that creative instinct could use some goading now and then.  Like a sibling on a long car ride, but useful.  Poke, poke, poke until he gets all wound up and writes “Lost in the Supermarket”.  It’s such a perfect description of life as a perpetual bystander.  I especially love the bit that goes, “I’ve heard the people who live on the ceiling/ they scream and fight/ they’re scared of me/ hearing that noise was my first ever feeling/ that’s how it’s been/ all around me”.  It’s sad to know how he feels and yet the music is so good that for a moment you really don’t care.  At one point in the interview Joe says, “to me, music is a feeling, the best that there is.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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