Saturday, 30 August 2014

"Do you ever have a night when you don't dream about the Fall?" - John Peel remembered

I posted this on my old blog, but as today is what would have been John Peel's 75th birthday, I thought it might be appropriate to put it here as well. I hope it rings some bells.

extracted from "Totally Shuffled-A Year of Listening to Music on a Broken iPod" 

August 13th

“Do you ever have a night when you don’t dream about The Fall?”

(This is clearly not a song or a tune on the iPod, but it is something that is on there and has just shuffled up. It’s shown as “unknown track-unknown artist” and lasts only a couple of seconds. It’s far from being an unknown artist to me-it’s a brief audio snippet of John Peel, and I guess it was him introducing a track from The Fall. I don’t know when it was broadcast or what track it referred to, but for those brief few seconds it’s like being transported back in time).

There are two ways I could use this track. I could either write about The Fall or John Peel. Or both, I suppose. Whilst I am surprised that I’ve got all the way through to mid-August without a Fall track shuffling up, I’m sure that there will be one along before the year is out. Like buses-there’ll be another one in a minute. 

This clip of Peel may be the only time that it shows up, so I think I’ll go with that. I haven’t done an analysis of what I’ve written so far (I’ve not even re-read any of it or done any editing), but I think that John Peel must have been mentioned at least once a week since I started this back in January, so it’s fairly obvious that John Peel was a very significant influence upon my musical tastes.

I can’t remember when exactly I started listening to Peel, although I’m fairly sure that I didn’t regularly tune into his show back in the seventies, when he’d play the whole of a Pink Floyd album in one go. I think that I must have started tuning in about 76/77 during the advent of punk. From then on in every Monday to Thursday, 10 until midnight, was reserved for hearing a whole panoply of music. 

I genuinely believe that without John Peel’s influence I wouldn’t have learned to love all the different sorts of music that I do now. Blues, doo-wop, reggae, soul-even Pink Floyd. I think that I may have still got into The Fall, but I can’t really be sure. 

Listening to John Peel and his clear love of music, beneath his sometimes grumpy exterior, was the best education I ever had. I know this sounds completely over-the-top and something I think he would have snorted derisorily at, but I think my attitudes to so many things, and not only music, would have turned out very differently if I’d never heard his broadcasts. I probably wouldn’t have been as into music as much as I am and wouldn’t have considered approaching it with the same regard that he did. I would have either been not bothered about music (like those people who when you ask them what sort of music do they like they respond with a “oh, all sorts really”- and you know they have a couple of Simply Red albums and a CD by Adele), or overly serious about it all. 

I cannot think of any other presenter apart from John Peel, who just loved music for what it made him feel rather than if it was fashionable or not, and didn’t see that playing records on the radio just as an interruption for “his public” from hearing his wonderful voice. If I hadn’t got into music through his broadcasts, then I wouldn’t have read the books that I have or watched the films I have seen. I wouldn’t have developed the attitude to popular culture that I’ve got. I certainly wouldn’t have ever have gone to Glastonbury in 2010 if I hadn’t  heard John Peel enthusing about it, and therefore by extension not written about it which, in turn, has led to writing this. If Glastonbury was good enough for him, then I knew it would be ok for me.

I wouldn’t have followed Liverpool Football Club in the manner I have. (I really wish he’d still been around for the Champions League Final in 2005). 

I don’t want to end this by sounding too maudlin, but every time I listen to an old recording of one of his shows, I still find it hard to believe that he’s gone. There’s a certain sadness that my children will never have the chance to hear him playing the wrong record at the wrong speed live- but I’ve still got this recording and many others to treasure- and they know that he was a great man. 

Totally Shuffled:

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