MORLEY ON POP STARS & MUSIC JOURNALISTS
“like kids imitating journalists…”
Extracts From Paul Morley’s Third Book
The first, “And Suddenly There Came A Bang!” is published on February 4th by Z.T.T. etc. The second, “You Can Even Feel Lonely When You Make Love To Your Wife,” is published next autumn by Faber. The third, “Framed In Basic Syncopated Groovy Themes”, is published in 1986. Hence these extracts are a miracle, and a treat.
A unique development of a traditional form. Never neglect the little things in life—
The first set included all four method contrasts off the expressionist love-resent fragmentary blurred disc spiral scratch.
There’s a crack in space.
That’s ‘time’s up’, vain and humiliating urgency of desire. A hardness that breaks complacent visions.
That’s ‘breakdown’, blind stumblinggabbling, a mind in breakdown-haunted by scraps of traditional learning, years of brainwashing.
A sharp fusion of terror and habit.”
That’s friends of mine with characters yearning to be sketched by Ralph Steadman and interviewed by Paul Krassner. Fatigue and compulsion; all these pieces.
To Show How Complex Selfishness Is
“‘I love to Boogie’—
Slim line sheik faced
angel of the night
Riding like a cowboy
in the graveyard of the night
New York witch in the dungeon
of the day
I’m trying to write my novel
But all you do is play.
The second verse is more oblique and obscure. Smith appears to have severed connections with Bolan, and Bolan ‘searches through the garbage looking for a friend’. Bolan returning attack assumes the role of a scathing personal attack on Smith. Bolan hints at some perverted incestuousness that Smith may have participated in with her uncle.
Your Uncle with an alligator
chained to his leg
dangles you your freedom
then he offers you his bed
The affair seems irretrievably over. The final verse has Bolan detachedly observing.
It seems to me a dream
is something too wild
In Max’s Kansas City
You a belladonna child
Riding on the highways
On the gateways to the south
You’re talking with your boots
and walking with your mouth.
Preceding the final few bars Bolan painfully cries, ‘Thank you ma’am’. Despite the inevitable traumas in an affiar between two such neurotic workers, Bolan enjoyed the affair. Perhaps that’s not surprising. ‘Baby Boomerang’ refers to Smith’s intriguing ‘twixt sheets technique’.”
The Language Animal
Q: Do you ever feel people regard you as a hero? The name Lou Reed and the things it supposedly stands for.
Q: Is that a kind of pressure?
Is that a kind of pressure? Yes… you’re getting a very straightforward interview so relish-it…
Q: That pressure affects you?
Q: You’ve mentioned the pressures of being on the other side of the Berlin Wall…
I can only try and imagine that…Continue »
Q: Sure, but as Lou Reed you’ve pressures that other people can only try and imagine.
Everybody has pressures. And everybody has pressure that other people can only imagine. You have pressure that I can’t imagine… it’s just a matter of degrees I would suspect. Although there are some pressures which you can probably imagine… my biggest pressure is to live up to my own expectations.
Q: Your own?
Mine, not anybody else’s.
Q: Not your reputation
Oh no, Oh no, I mean that I have to live down to! People think that way and other people have another version. Their expectations may be somewhat along the lines of my own. I don’t know if my expectations are that high. It’s just that they’re very hard. Harder than I give credit for…
Q: Expectations to do what?
TO BE THE GREATEST WRITER… THAT EVER LIVED… ON GOD’S EARTH… in other words I’m talking about Shakespeare… Dostoyevsky…
Q: What kind of writer?
A writer… I want to do a rock n’ roll thing that’s on the level of the Brothers Karamazov… starting to build up a body of work, y’know, I could come off sounding very pretentious about this, which is why I usually don’t say anything… I prefer not to… It, um, gives people things to talk about… I like playing in a band. I like making records, but I hate talking about them. I mean I’ve mastered the really funny, insulting interview and all that, so we don’t go near anything of great concern to anybody since that’s not what they’re interested in anyway.
Q: A lot of your interviews are simple comic repartee.
(snigger) What else…? How else can one deal with the absurd? The questions that I’ve been asked and the people who’ve asked them have always struck me as comic. It’s like I’ve always thought of it as something straight out of a very bad soap opera on T.V… it’s like kids imitating journalists… I mean, Hemingway was a journalist, Dorothy Parker was a critic, Delmore Schwartz was a critic…
I am writing this in a tiny room in Paris
“Glam Rock preferred to be disgusting rather than dignified. Because Queen and Steve Strange and Kiss bungle so lovelessly what should be a glorious route to transcendence they deserve our utter contempt. One respectable compromise between Glam and Glam rock was Gary Glitter. He got pissed out of his skull exploiting glam rock costume, but his best music had a vivid resonance that matched the joyful drama if not the slight beauty of T.Rex and his self-mocking attitude suggested Glitter was faithful to glam spirit, if a little shattered by life’s complications. His glamorisation was brash and funny, but there were always sad undertones. This sadness was compounded when a largely unaltered Gary Glitter got caught up in the early ‘80 glam rock bubble represented by God’s Toys, Shock, Classix Nouveaux, the boys and girls in the Stevo stable. Gary Glitter, like Marc Bolan, was ultimately too lazy to spin away from the first glam blast with the versatility of, say, Ray Davies. Sweet were a muddled and meagre group adding a commercially sound exhibitionist slant to a hearty bubblegum rock, wryly contrived for them by the sporting Chinn and Chapman. Sweet were boorish brickies breaking wind in a posh public bar and trying to disguise the smell with the cheapest perfume imaginable. Not quite the glam rock pits—
The Tongue Set Free
I could tell you about how pop has ended with Nick Rhodes and Gary Kemp. I could tell you about John Blake in India…
I could tell you about Lou Reed…
I could tell you about the neat new Pete Shelley single…
I could tell you about the gorgeous triple album Marc Bolan Compilation released only on E.M.I. Australia…
But no doubt you’d rather read the lost writers in the low weeklies and pretend with them that there is a direction… it’s up to you, it’s your fault.
If I were you, I’d stick around here.
For journalism and criticism. I would tell you more…
Next column: As Wittgenstein said, if you have nothing to say, don’t say it.