This Week's Editorial: 19/3/21



The book above was published in 1981. I must have bought it soon afterwards, because I don't remember a time when I didn't own it. I read it and read it and read it and what I would have told you at the time is that I was hoping it would rub off. I was in a band and what I wanted was to be eclectic; to sound like everyone. Looking back, though, I imagine that we sounded terrible. We didn't have the right equipment and the voice and guitars were drowned, made into an ambient scribble, by the drums. I wanted to be like Elvis Costello: to take different styles off the peg and try them on. But Costello had earned the right to do this. He had been shrewd: in the beginning, he had harnessed his songs to punk's spiralling energy and he had produced something… explicable? It had a clear outline, anyway. I, on the other hand, in the era of the New Romantics, was spending all day in my bedroom, listening to Phil Spector. In my defence, I was trying to really listen – to soak it up and to assimilate it – but that didn't count for much when we were performing a song that sounded like "Baby I Love You" with a bass and a tinny guitar.


If I read about, say, Otis Redding (this is how the theory went) then I could replicate him. Not copy him; not exactly. But be him, somehow. Be undeniable; be great. We never were, of course, and I realise now that all I was doing, really, was reading for pleasure. There are a number of articles by Greil Marcus in the book, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's very simple: Greil Marcus is the king of music critics. It took me a while to realise that I loved his writing every bit as much as I loved the music he was describing. At his best he is a poet and I am delighted that, this week, we are able to feature an extract from the excellent The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. (If you haven't already read Mystery Train you need to buy a copy immediately.) I'm also very pleased to be featuring another documentary narrated by Charles Shaar Murray, as well as another article by Nick Coleman. There isn't a single Bowie album up to and including Scary Monsters that I haven't experienced through the lens of Murray's prose. In the eighties, meanwhile (I've said this before), I used to go into my local newsagents, pick up Time Out, read Nick's copy then put it down again. So. You can imagine my excitement.


Meanwhile, we have another instalment in our extremely good "dialogue" between Fran Lock and Roddy Lumsden, as well as poems by Kate White, Ben Bransfield, Paul Fenn, Agnes Marton, Maggie Sawkins, Lucy Holme, Lorraine Carey, Rachel Carney, O.T. Park, Daniel Roy Connelly, Catherine Gander, George Neame and Paul Waring. We also have photographs by Olga Michi, etymology from Brandon Robshaw, Ben Morgan talking about his favourite things in "Since Feeling is First", Buddhist wisdom from Noah Rasheta and our Track of the Week. (Speaking of eclectic.) One Hand Clapping is really only one step away from being a playlist. Or a mix tape. We hope you find something to love.