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John Peel died yesterday - click opera
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Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 02:07 am
John Peel died yesterday

John Peel died yesterday. For someone of my generation, in my profession, this news has a certain awesome enormity about it, and leaves a terrible sadness. Peel, to an independent sector music artist like me, was a colossus, a pope, an emperor. He was indiepop's 'minister without portfolio', he seemed to have a job for life, he was supposed always to be there. He seemed so secure and so eternal, so institutional and so protected, that it seemed okay to take shots at him, as Julie Burchill did in her 1999 piece Rake's Progress and I did -- rather more affectionately -- in my essay On Gatekeepers. Peel was so self-deprecating, in such an English way, that you almost felt he wouldn't mind. He seemed so huge, so unassailably part of the mainstream of English life and thought.

Without any obvious commercial concerns -- he called himself 'Reithian', and I really believe he was -- Peel nevertheless made possible, nurtured and presided over a musical ecosystem that was entirely commercial. By ensuring that up to 90% of the records he played were things you wouldn't hear anywhere else on the radio, he created a non-commercial climate in which small independent labels could thrive -- commercially. Like some kind of greenhouse, his nightly programme protected all sorts of delicate plants from the cold winds of commerce, at least until they were big and tough enough to make it on their own. His disregard for money and hype actually redistributed money and hype in more deserving directions.



Peel, in my personal cosmology, is an angel and a devil, a friend and an enemy, a favourite uncle and a resented, oppressive boss. As a consumer and explorer of music, I can only thank him. From my teens to my mid-twenties I received a musical education through his programme that pinned out the four corners of my musical constellation. Peel played an amazingly eclectic selection of music, from Vietnamese folk to Captain Beefheart, from The Passage to Ivor Cutler. But he had blindspots. He wasn't into literate songs in foreign languages, for a start -- Brel, Brassens or Gainsbourg didn't exist, Victor Jara didn't exist, Japanese or Thai pop didn't exist. He didn't do 'literate' very well, he didn't like 'satirical' -- no Tom Lehrer on his show. He didn't do 'glamorous', because that was for chart pop. And although he loved sex, he didn't like it in the records he played -- the one and only time he played a Momus record ('Hotel Marquis de Sade') he apologised (only half in jest) for the appearance of breasts in the lyric. He did, though, do 'eccentric'; I remember Viv Stanshall's fantastic readings of 'Sir Henry at Rawlinson End' being played on his show. And he did, rather surprisingly, do 'conceptual' -- Sudden Sway's 'Let's Evolve' remains my favourite Peel session, perfect for his nocturnal slot because the Open University units it mimics were taking over the airwaves just as Peel was playing his closing music.

My feelings about Peel are Freudian and Oedipal. Freud's 'narcissism of small differences' very much applies. Peel and I both had private educations, were both thoughtful middle class Britons 'slumming it' in pop music, both somewhat shy, both interested in seducing people by wafting calm voices into their ears, both narcissistic enough to believe that we could succeed just by stubbornly being ourselves in public, both libidinous satyrs in search of 'teenage kicks'. But Peel was the very opposite of 'pretentious', and the very opposite of 'an artist'. It's touching to read his account of his friendship with Marc Bolan:

'We were very good pals, but it was like with a lot of one's friends, there's another side to them, because we all have darker sides which we try to suppress. I suppose a way that one measures people as human beings is by their ability to suppress the disagreeable things which might bubble up. I always knew about Marc that he was very ambitious, but then from the moment he became a real star, we were just cut off like that, which was just upsetting really...'

Now, an artist cannot and must not suppress his 'dark side', because along with all the 'disagreeable things which might bubble up' also comes the very material of art. Peel's mistrust of showbiz glamour (he tells a very funny anecdote here about going to a 'terrifically trendy club off Bond Street' and not fitting in at all) was also a mistrust of theatre, artifice, projection... perhaps of art itself. David Bowie, in a video tribute made for Peel's 60th birthday, also comments wryly on this mistrust of the theatricality, pretension and poseurishness artists tend to go in for: 'You were right, John: nobody in the world likes mime.' Peel really believed that artists and celebrities could and should be cured, 'sorted out':

'I used to believe that if Elvis had come and lived with us for a couple of weeks we'd have got him sorted out. Charles and Diana too. Trouble with people like that is that they're not rooted in any recognisable reality. What they needed is someone like me telling them: 'Right, now we're off to Sainsbury's then we're going to pick up the kids from school. Then we've got to feed the animals'. I really mean that.'

Peel's distaste for showbiz glamour -- in some ways an admirably non-rockist trait, in others the absolute epitome of 'keepin' it real, man' -- is what led to his comically prosaic Radio 4 series, 'Home Truths', in which, far from interviewing self-possessed artists about the source of their creativity (which he'd once done, quizzing Captain Beefheart, for instance, about his ability to write twenty songs a day and a book every night) he would interview June Bloggins from Woodhampton about her arguments with daughter Nicola over the untidy state of her bedroom. And sound just as interested in her answers as he had in Captain Beefheart's. Which might seem completely admirable, but might also contain -- as his anecdotes about other DJs and pop stars often did -- just a tiny smidgeon of self-righteous self-deprecation, a refusal to compete with anyone slightly too glitzy, someone as charismatic as... well, as Peel himself.



For Peel was a man of rare charisma. His very intimate and interested way of talking to Britain, over a period of many years, was ultimately very seductive. His scripts and newspaper columns were funny (sometimes slightly forced in their wit, it must be said) and well-written. He outlived many of the rock stars who outglitzed him. He was a sentimental old bugger, and that tends to provoke sentiment. He was also very enthusiastic, and that elicits enthusiasm. He was enough of a chameleon to survive in many different cultural eras, and to make sure he embodied the zeitgeist. Put the posh British Invasion Peel of his early 60s Texan broadcasts (which he used to play self-mockingly) next to the whispering hippy sex fiend of The Perfumed Garden, then put that Peel next to the clipped, slightly sarcastic punk Peel of the 70s or the football and domesticity Peel of the 90s... They're all different Peels, and yet all the same Peel. He was as much of a chameleon as David Bowie or Madonna ever was, yet he had the charm to pull it off without looking calculating. Not bad going for a man who seemed always to be putting himself down.

Peel's fear of indulging 'the dark side' is probably what put him off my records. I made the mistake, in my one conversation with Peel, of talking about sex. It was 1981, and I went with some ex-members of Josef K to see Peel at Broadcasting House. The K had been a Peel favourite, one of the hundreds of groups he seemed, like some general with an army of BBC broadcasting towers at his command, to have gifted with a career. I'd just spotted Clare Grogan, the singer in saccharine Scottish janglepop outfit Altered Images, crossing the lobby and thought, since Miss Grogan was at the time Peel's jailbait schoolgirl-voiced crush, that Peel would be delighted to hear of her presence in the building. Well, he wasn't. He looked a bit guilty and nervous. Perhaps he knew she was in the area. Perhaps she'd been visiting him. We handed Peel our record and left. He didn't play it, but he kept playing Altered Images. I was never gifted with a career, and when that army of transmitters was finally put at my disposal, it was Steve Wright who playlisted me. Steve Wright in the afternoon, an unbearable comedian, a man without taste or principles!

Why should I grieve for a man who spurned me -- the arbiter of taste, the champion of everything obscure yet worthy, who rejected me? Why should I shed a tear for the 'indie father' who formed then disowned me, whose long cold shoulder is part of the reason that I no longer live in Britain? I don't know, but I do grieve. I'm cut to the quick by this unexpectedly quick disappearance, shocked as only an estranged son can be when he hears the father he hasn't spoken to in twenty years has died. The iron in my soul buckles and the ice in my heart melts. Peel's revenge is that even the people he seemed to block from the glittering prizes of the inner sanctum are weeping for the gatekeeper.


*

Paul Morley tribute.

Peel gets the speed wrong... again

Peel on The Fall

John Peel Sweet Eating Game

John Peel speaking to Rhodri Marsden

A blog entry on oddball record companies, reminding me that the people who really made everything possible for me were mavericks at eccentric record labels like el, almost entirely ignored by everyone but the Japanese.

40CommentReplyShare

junkerr
junkerr
Junker!
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 05:45 pm (UTC)

I was dreadfully saddened to hear this yesterday.
His show was undoubtedly the best on the radio worldwide, I'd go as far to say.
He will be sorely missed.


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zacharydaiquiri
Zachary Daiquiri, Esq.
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)

A sad day for music lovers everywhere.

Zachary Daiquiri, Esq.


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besskeloid
Gary Robert Kelly
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)

Japanese or Thai pop didn't exist.

Do Shonen Knife or The Frank Chickens count as Japanese pop?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)

Well, they were Japanese people in Britain and America. It's not domestic J-pop.


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besskeloid
Gary Robert Kelly
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 08:13 pm (UTC)

I take your point re: Frank Chickens, but I thought Shonen Knife were domestically Japanese early on.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 03:25 am (UTC)

The late Delia Derbyshire's site has an mp3 tribute to John Peel

http://www.delia-derbyshire.org/recordings.php


FWIW- Shonen Knife were a little indie band in mid 1980s Osaka doing occasional EPs . You know a part time hobby thing much like The Plastics or Buffalo Daughter started out (and all 3 bands winding up catching the attention of Americans who could hook them up with bigger record deals). Some American musicians and indie label types hanging around appreciated them and put together a tribute album in 1989 well ahead of the band's own albums getting stateside releases in the early 90s. This proved a winning strategy since their own recordings and subsequent tours made for further amusement. A dissapointing signing to Virgin U.S.A. for a short while being marketed as a grunge band probably helped them to sign with Universal back in Japan.

nicholas d. kent
http://www.artskool.biz/jem/


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paletree
j faithless
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)

this is the best post you've made since i've started reading you.
i'm teary.

thank you.


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thelostmaverick
pj.mac
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC)

Cheers for the really lovely tribute...he had the most welcoming voice - I always stopped flicking through various radio stations in the vain search of hearing something good, whenever I heard him.

Sad thing was I was wondering last week who'd be adequate enough to replace Peel if he ever quit or was replaced. It makes me sadder for Radio 1 as well, as it has become increasingly dumbed down over the past few years. I'm just glad we didn't have to endure the excuses of the Radio One controllers as to why Peel was leaving, as witnessed with Mark and Lard earlier this year. I guess I'll have to stick to BBC 6Music and Newflux for good now.

Gutted.


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mattcallow
mattcallow
Noircrème-Anglaise
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 07:01 pm (UTC)

bittersweet and beautiful.


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andypop
andypop
rigid codes of hierarchical binarism
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 07:18 pm (UTC)

Odd that you mentioned the Passage too. 'New Kind of Love' was one of the first records that stuck with me from listening to his show. By coincidence, it's one of two covers in the set I'm singing with my new band on Saturday afternoon. I guess I know who to dedicate it to, now.

My main band somehow never got to be Peel favourites, either, while our friends all got sessions and regular plays. I guess a fearsome, musically competent riot grrrl band wasn't ever going to be as likely to engage him as much as all the amateurish, friendly riot grrrl bands, and I didn't lose any respect for him over it - just worried a little that it was Steve Lamacq who championed us (no disrespect to SL, but all those indierock bands he loves, like the Bluetones, horrified me), a bit like you and Steve Wright. I still can't quite believe that - Steve Wright playing Momus!


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uberdionysus
uberdionysus
Troy Swain: Black Box Miasma
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 08:03 pm (UTC)

Wow. Thanks for that. I've been thinking about theatricality vs. authenicity for awhile and just don't know what to think. My natural inclination is to side with the sincere, but honestly, I like theatricality. I like how the posture and pose of the old punks was incindiary and all consuming. The hippies had that too, but pretended it was authenitc... actually, the punks also prenteded to be authentic. Only the mods and metal heads ddin't pretend to be authentic.

"an artist cannot and must not suppress his 'dark side'"

I agree. That's where all the good stuff comes from.


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alf_tupper
alf_tupper
alf_tupper
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 10:23 pm (UTC)

Oddly enough, after Peel, Paul Morley has had the most profound of influences on my musical tastes.


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ex_rumpelsti760
Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004 10:50 pm (UTC)

Thank you!


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rhodri
rhodri
Rhodri Marsden
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 12:12 am (UTC)

Thanks, Nick. Lovely.


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missfairchild
missfairchild
Miss Fairchild
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 02:42 am (UTC)

A beautiful post, and by far the best tribute I've read anywhere. Thank you.


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bethanyrose
bethanyrose
bethanyrose
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 02:59 am (UTC)

I can clearly recall, as a schoolgirl still, hiding under the covers and determinedly listening to John Peel's radio show into the "early hours", as they then seemed to be. I had to keep the radio really low so as to remain undetected by ever-vigilant parents! I consider his DJ outpourings to have been one part of my early-teen education!


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class_worrier
Class Worrier
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 03:09 am (UTC)

I probably should have left that Julie Burchill article for another time.
Headache-inducing.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 03:18 am (UTC)

I personally do always think that at times like this there should be a dissenting voice. They ask at weddings 'If anyone here has just cause why these two people should not...', but they never ask that at funerals. 'If anyone here thinks this guy really wasn't all he's cracked up to be...' I'd certainly like for there to be a dissenting voice at my funeral. Maybe they could read out my last Pitchfork review.


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class_worrier
Class Worrier
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 03:35 am (UTC)

I completely agree on dissent.
It's just on a purely selfish level that right now I don't need to be reading anti-Peel articles.

It is important that we don't make him into an untouchable, perfect figure but having said that, music is such an immeasurably large part of my life and Peel was the main catalyst and one of the foundations of that area of my life.
Yes, despite his wide-ranging tastes, there were holes. It was a terrible state of affairs that, if you were a truly left-field artist in the U.K. and Peel didn't like you then you were f#cked. But even with his limitations he still did more for new music than anyone else (or even the sum of every other mainstream dj).

It would be hard to see an attack on Peel within a day of his passing as anything other than attention-seeking (although I'm aware that the Burchill article isn't current. I'm sure she'll come up with an updated version very soon).


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 03:48 am (UTC)

I genuinely don't know what Burchill will do. I think she'll stay silent. Because if attacking Peel was taboo in 1999, it's doubly, triply taboo now. But perhaps Peel's biographer will talk to her.

It was a terrible state of affairs that, if you were a truly left-field artist in the U.K. and Peel didn't like you then you were f#cked.

You know, I haven't been a drama queen about this, but you're absolutely right. It was like those Broadway shows that would close after a few days if they got a bad notice from the Times critic. Except... it wasn't. Because I'm still here, after two decades without a Peel session. Thank god for other countries.


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missfairchild
missfairchild
Miss Fairchild
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 04:31 am (UTC)

You may not have had a Peel session, but I first discovered your music in 1991 after buying a compilation for a specific track by another band I'd heard Peel play.


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jinty
jinty
jinty
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)
I also agree that the possibility of dissent is important, but

It was a terrible state of affairs that, if you were a truly left-field artist in the U.K. and Peel didn't like you then you were f#cked.

You know, I haven't been a drama queen about this, but you're absolutely right.


Yes, but I don't see this as any reason to attack Peel (if one wanted to do so on this< basis). It's a shame that this is (was) the state of affairs in the UK -- that one person was so much the gatekeeper of non-mainstream music -- but did Peel play any active role in keeping that situation alive? I can't see any indication of that in your Gatekeeper article -- yes, there are Gatekeepers, and in the UK they are generally anti-intellectual. Do any of those Gatekeepers try to stop other people from also becoming Gatekeepers? Is there something in the setup of how you get to be a Gatekeeper that prevents people with different tastes (including presumably intellectual tastes) from also getting to be Arbiters of Taste?


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mippy
mippy
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 11:29 am (UTC)

Some good points there...and thanks for that Nick, I'll link if you don't mind/

Wonder what John thought of that article? He clearly loved Sheila so much, any listener could have seen it. Hm. All this attention would have really embarrassed him.


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etriganuk
etriganuk
Alan Fleming
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 09:54 am (UTC)

You need to attend a secular humanist ceremony.

The deceased, told like they were, warts and all.


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grendelis
grendelis
grendel
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 04:03 am (UTC)

Thankyou for reminding me of Sudden Sway's 'Let's Evolve'.

I once got a guy who fancied me to act that song out! I don't think he knew what had hit him!! it was funny I can tell you.

Oh and for showing that poster. Most excellent, thankyou for making me smile again. He was wonderful. Life's good guys always go early. I think Sheila is going to be a wee bit overwhelmed when she gets back to the UK.


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 08:10 am (UTC)

That was a touching post. You've got a golden heart, my lad.

(But even better would be if you were to one day write some of that into a Peel song.
Especially the freudian/oedipal part. I can just imagine it: oh-so-Momus.)

r.


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mtl
mtl
MTL
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 08:22 am (UTC)

Thank you for this posting!

I appreciate this very much!


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ilovecupcakes
ilovecupcakes
++ C U P P Y ++
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC)

what a perfect and beautiful tribute to such an amazing man.

THANK YOU !!!!


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 10:38 am (UTC)

As a poor art student , I would often tape anything intriguing that Peel played hitting the pause button after hearing the first few seconds of a track. This mix-tape then became my antidote to daytime radio. This is when I first heard Momus . He played 3rd Party Fire and Theft and I recorded this strange sounding song attracted by the prepared piano and the wit of the lyrics.

Although he didn't champion you, he did create the climate for challenging music like yours in a pop-context. I think the overtly sexual nature of Momus is as you described, a factor in your lack of airplay. Momus can be shocking and I have to admit that I too have been troubled by the content of some of the songs. Yet your fearless exploration of these themes and your honesty when coupled with your seductive melody is what makes your work compelling. So don't resent the father spurning you, the dark side of life is sometimes hard to listen to.

Yesterday was very sad day and I still can't believe he is gone. He was such a big part of my adolescence and early twenties and engendered a passion for music that still exists today. I hope that I retain his openness to new sounds as I grow older. RIP John, gone but never forgotten.

Richard G


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chupiwa
chupiwa
State Of Love And Trust....
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC)

thank you for posting for this.

it was really heartfelt.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 02:06 pm (UTC)

No, someone posted it on a bulletin board. It had a little logo on the bottom right which I didn't like and Photoshopped out. I think it's from ebay. Here's the original file:

http://i1.ebayimg.com/02/i/02/b7/29/83_1_b.JPG


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 01:30 pm (UTC)

Kingsley Mole sat high on a windy knoll, his eyes consuming the silent midnight woods. He nuzzled his long molish snout deep inside the heart of a marigold and let his molish imagination skip to and fro over sunken galleons and pirate pictures of rusted doubloons and deep-water cabins stacked to the brim with musty muskets and goldfish gautlets, once worn by Henry Morgan.

The lark awoke and doffed its plumed three cornered hat to its own sleepy-eyed reflection, then it hopped past the crested nest of the snoring cuckoo, and flew off into the Lionel Lark morning looking for friend Mole. Mole was on a marigold come down and sulkily scraped bluebeat rhythms with his ground-digging paw.

"Yes," he whispered, "Me and Li are going aquesting for the Lily Pond of Fox Necks."

"Li'll know all the mapping gen," so the Mole, kneeling on the soft soil, said a morning prayer to Ra, not even caring if he dirtied his yellow Rupert trousers because his molish mind knew that praying was special.

RIP, John Peel
-Adam


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dickon_edwards
dickon_edwards
Dickon Edwards
Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004 04:33 pm (UTC)

he didn't like 'satirical' -- no Tom Lehrer on his show.

But he did rather like Half Man Half Biscuit, surely a satirical band if ever there was one. Discussing Mr Peel's taste, one is always about to say, "Yes, but..."

Despite that, I think his "blind spots" were really for anything vaguely affected-sounding or, dare I say it, too "poncey" to his ears. Intellectual content with no mitigating factors in his mind. Like The Smiths' blending of camp with visceral rockism. Perhaps he thought you were all head, no heart or soul.

A misconception of Momus I've never subscribed to. Even if I do tend to prefer your less bearded records.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 28th, 2004 01:30 am (UTC)

We can't all look as good without a beard as you do, Dickon.


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jinty
jinty
jinty
Thu, Oct. 28th, 2004 04:59 am (UTC)
I was really interested to read this

Many thanks.

A comment:
But he had blindspots. He wasn't into literate songs in foreign languages... He didn't do 'literate' very well, he didn't like 'satirical' --... He didn't do 'glamorous' ... although he loved sex, he didn't like it in the records he played ... He did, though, do 'eccentric'... And he did, rather surprisingly, do 'conceptual'
Blindspots, or the normal manifestations of a personal taste? The latter shades into the former, of course. Even the widest range of an individual taste must have boundaries somewhere. In a society where multiple people each with their own wide-ranging and individual tastes are highly-visible Gatekeepers, this 'problem' would be silently corrected. At least we had a John Peel during the time we had him. And even though his blindspots are different from mine / yours, he managed to have far smaller, far fewer of them than other public figures. Even though he blocked you from the glittering prizes of the inner sanctum, he ensured that they were there to reach for in the first place.

And a question:
Peel: I suppose a way that one measures people as human beings is by their ability to suppress the disagreeable things which might bubble up.
Momus: Now, an artist cannot and must not suppress his 'dark side', because along with all the 'disagreeable things which might bubble up' also comes the very material of art.
Both true: two separate measurements for the same person (as human being, and as artist) can clash in their answer, because they're using different measuring sticks. Are you (also) saying that an artist should always react as an artist *all the time* and never show the consideration for other humans that might lead him/her to suppress some of the 'dark side' at least temporarily, at least to hang out with his/her mates? I'm sure some great artists are / have been miserable human beings, and that the two aspects are related, but is this a necessary truth? Is this one of the dividing lines between a craftsman (works hard on the material and sets it aside for regular meal-times and sleep) and an artist (compulsively thinking about the creation even at socially-inappropriate times)?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Oct. 28th, 2004 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: I was really interested to read this

Well, in that bubbling quote Peel is talking about Marc Bolan. He's specifically talking about Bolan's ambition and singling it out as a 'dark force' that undermined their friendship. But without Bolan's ambition, I personally would have been deprived of a huge amount of pleasure. (A T.Rex singles compilation was the first record I paid my own money for.)

Peel's attitude here has a lot of aspects, not all positive. He's speaking ill of the dead, in a sense; asked about his friendship with Bolan, he's blaming Bolan for ending the friendship, hurtfully, by getting ambitious and becoming a star and leaving Peel behind. Is it really necessary to describe things that way? Does it make Peel a better person than Bolan? Peel was also brutally frank about almost every other DJ at the BBC, and sometimes it could sound like jealousy. In each case, the upshot of his criticisms was that he was sane, down-to-earth and ego-free, while they were lunatic egomaniacs. Well, that stance is slightly contradictory, isn't it? Especially when Peel's death reveals that he was by far the most famous of all his colleagues. The same tendency to apportion blame is noted by Julie Burchill, when she describes how Peel, asked about the suicide of his first wife, talked about her falling into bad company, having her children taken into care, and so on.

So I'd just say that this cuts in a lot of different ways. I've never read any Marc Bolan quotes in which he attacked Peel, or anyone else for that matter. But perhaps I haven't read the right biographies.


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insomnia
insomnia
Insomnia
Thu, Oct. 28th, 2004 08:17 pm (UTC)

I'm very impressed with your take on this, because it's very perceptive, both of Peel and of yourself.

From my perspective as an American and as a college deejay who fought a constant battle against the dreaded programmed rotation, Peel represented most everything that I loved about radio. So, when I read "On Gatekeepers" over a year back now, it really gave me a different perspective on his role that I really wouldn't have had otherwise. I thought it was a perceptive if somewhat sorrowful article.

How could you *not* want the approval of John Peel? How could anyone not have wanted that kind of approval? Peel made stars... and yet, it's amazing that he never really came off as that kind of person. As much as he loved music, he didn't lord over his power, nor did he bow and scrape to the musicians either. A very admirable person.

And yes, I think you're right about him being prone against artifice, wit, and cleverness, though that quality seems relative in him. Perhaps the glam era Peel would've paid more attention to you, but not the Peel you met, I suppose.

Peel tended to approach pop from a kind of backward perspective... he didn't seem to try breaking pop performers, but rather they seemed to wind up on his show once it was obvious what their trajectory was anyway. I remember hearing about Peel having a kind of annoyed acceptance when The Smiths fans couldn't get enough of the band back in the early 80s... he played them a lot apparently, but with a kind of begrudging and embarassed acceptance more than anything else. He would've much rather played The Fall, I suspect.

I suspect it was much the same with him and Claire Grogan, really. That said, as much as she's twee pop, I love that cute cute cute girl. Really, I do. I can't help it, really.

The sad thing is that this is really a world tragedy when it comes to music. We haven't just lost an amazing gatekeeper... I fear we've lost the gate too.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 29th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC)

Not having a Peel session needn't necessarily be an impediment to a successful (popular) career. Just look at Oasis...


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Nov. 13th, 2004 07:00 am (UTC)
the rejecting father

I enjoyed a moment when writer Harlan Ellison held a work of mine at arms length and, sneering, asked if I would not mind if he refused my gift. (Aclaim from other circles is insignificant in such moments.) Unfortunately, Ellison is still alive.


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galaxy_nebula
galaxy_nebula
Thu, Jul. 7th, 2005 08:39 am (UTC)

Sheet happens


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