Friday, January 11, 2008

A Million Miles Away

There was a time of Fridays when we were too old to attend the 2nd and 3rd years' school disco, too young to help run it and too small to successfully sneak into the pub, and this was the time of Fridays when me and my mate Marty went to each others' houses and played records.

We'd listen to music together with an intensity we only ever now listen with alone, lubricated only by the couple of cans of beer our Dads had left us cheerily as they exited with our mothers to do whatever parents did in small provincial towns on Friday nights.

These were the writing-lyrics-out-in-school-jotters and designing-band-logo years, when we looked into songwords for our truths, our manifestos and our epigrams. And if Paul Morley dismissed our heroes for writing 'sixth-form poetry' well that was fine - we'd be in the sixth form next year anyhow.

We dug Tamla Motown, sharp guitars and 'making a stand against the world' (for which read 'not much liking' the world of nice little bungalows, suburban cul-de-sacs, Conservative Clubs and the Daily Mail); a little synthpop was OK too.

A year or two later the pub jukebox would soundtrack our Fridays and the alcohol consumption would rise in pints as we sat in big groups in the lounge bar. Then College would scatter us and it'd never be quite the same again.

But for now there was just the two of us, the Courage Light Ale and the little room at the top of house filling with sound.

The place I love is a million miles away
It’s too far for the eye to see
Still it’s me at least, and you can't come there
No one is allowed at all

The Jam - 'The Place I Love' (1978)

Excuse me, I must now have a little cry.


  1. i managed to recapture a tiny bit of those wonderful nights a few years ago when a particularly obbsessive pal used to come round friday nights a couple of hours before we went down the boozer to listen and listten and listen to tyhe new stuff we'd bought and old crap we'd dug up and it took me right round to micks bedroom with his iggy pop poster and his dad telling us to shush.
    i think i'll go and have a little cry too

  2. Oh my good gawd what are we like? x

  3. I think we’re all familiar with this but you’re missing something out. It wasn’t all Motown and the Jam, was it? What about the records you loved that time and fashion haven’t been so kind to? My intense listening period was a few years before yours and despite what the music press would have you believe there was life before punk. One song we used to love, however, was Jon Pertwee singing in character as Dr Who over a remixed version of the theme tune. Lots of great stereo whoosh effects. Confession is good for the soul you know, so how about it…

  4. Definitely true of a few years before (Marshall Hain!) but by the time I'm describing here it was 1981, we were 5th Years and if it wasn't The Jam (and it nearly always was) it would've been Soft Cell, OMD, a bit of Japan ('Quiet Life' and 'Ghosts' especially), The Beatles (more me than Mart) and lots of old soul we were hearing for the first time. I used to slip some ABBA in there too of course, but only when we were at my house...

    If you have that Jon Pertwee though you must post it!

  5. I wish I could. I recently got back in contact with the guy who owned it having lost contact for about 10 years (he’s the other ape in my Planet of the Apes post if you remember that) and I asked if I could borrow it for the blog. Unfortunately, he had a load of singles nicked when he was at Uni and Jon Pertwee was one of them. We have both vowed to track down a copy and when we do I promise to post it.

  6. Oh!And Dexy's of course, I mustn't forget Dexy's..."You see Robin, I been searching for the young soul rebels, I've been searching everywhere, can't find them anywhere, where've you hidden them?" *sigh*

  7. aye, 1981 was a much more vintage year than 1976 that's for sure.

  8. Forever synonymous with 'When You're Young/Smithers Jones' for me, my friend. You had it, I wanted it.

    All over the country
    The lights are going out
    In millions of homes
    And thousands of flats
    Going out
    Going out
    Going out - to fade - all the way down the back cover of my jotter.


  9. I like your musings on the side. I used to fancy Yoda when I was 11 - far superior in my eyes to Simon Le Bon, even today.

  10. Yoda fanciers? Form a line here.

  11. I envy you this time. I grew up in a little city in upstate New York (as far away from NYC as if I'd been in Ukraine) and I had some good friends, but none with whom I could share my passion for music. I remember playing "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" by the Smiths for some friends. Hoping. Hoping. And they laughed. It was "gay," apparently. Until it became popular ("Pretty in Pink" soundtrack and all that), then it was edgy and cool all of a sudden. Pricks. My moment wouldn't come until college, where one of my roommates was Lee Ranaldo's first cousin and we got backstage passes to Sonic Youth shows. I was finally in my element.

  12. Ahhh, very nice.

    By the way, you're my blog's "2007 in Review" thingy...

    and here's my vinyl/mp3 blog....

    You're linked in both as well.. Keep up with the good posts! I always look forward to the stories in particular.

  13. Hmmm...the full post URL didn't seem to do its' thing. Odd.

    Ahh well. Drop by and dig around if so inclined...

  14. John - if only you had been a student with us in London in 1986 where 'There Is A Light' was on rotation play, we'd have taken you to our tear-stained hearts and that's for sure.

    Mr. Christopher - good to hear from you again and sincere thanks for the kind and generous plug over at your place.

  15. So, "From the Jam" is set to hit DC soon--Bruce and Rich, sans Paul of course. So -- I toss it to the crowd -- worth it to go?

  16. I have to separate my honest, personal feeling that I think Bruce and Rick touring those songs so many years later without Weller is just plain...sad (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) from the fact that I reckon in 1) the right venue (are they playing a small DC club?) with 2)the right crowd (a bunch of passionate old Jam fans) and 3) a good few beers inside you, you could have a great night out.

    The inestimable Dick Van Dyke clocked them late last year and was kind enough to share his thoughts with us here.

    You must let us know if you go Jon.

  17. I agree that it's pretty sad...but now that a DC tour stop is in the offing -- I felt a twinge that I should go to this. Hmm -- duality.

    They're playing here:

    ...with Hugh Cornwell opening. (Odd, huh?)

    So, if the aforementioned conditions are met, you may have a review of this show...hmm...

  18. Hello my dear Vinyl District.

    As the young and prolific davy h intimates from my recent experience; in my humble opinion, you will not regret seeing 'From The Jam'. I certainly didn't - nor did all those around me. After all, 'We all grew up in a flash of time, while we watched our ideals helplessly unwind'.

    Sure, over a gallon of ale, I wrestled and debated the whys and wherefores about the youth and the passion and the fire and skill ... and no Weller of course. But in the end - what the fuck! When played as superbly as this mate, The Songs always win the day.

    Besides, what have you got to lose?

    Most of All Mod Cons is played (and Setting Sons)- which is good enough reason for me.

    They blast through the majority of the singles, but also a few songs you perhaps wouldn't expect. Bass and drum feature rather strongly! (The 'threat' of new songs didn't materialise). If you can go along and not become immersed, then we'll all bow down to the Burning Sky.

    There's many cherished thoughts and no bitterness from me.

    I'd certainly welcome your own views should you go along. Have a beer, take a like-minded friend or two, and bring some hope into your hearts.

    Time is short and life is cool.

    With respect.


  19. Succumba to the beat surrender x

  20. About 15 years ago I went to see Noel Redding play a bunch of Hendrix songs at a small club in Albany, New York, and it was truly tragic. Since then I've sworn to keep my mental images unsullied, however rose-tinted they may be. Sorry Bruce and Rich.

  21. I was lucky enough to see The Jam on countless occasions. No amount of money in the world would drag me along to the Rick/Bruce nonsense.

    The posting made me very very sad. The mate who I did that sort of thing with circa 1979/80/81 is no longer a mate. But you never forget who you camp out with overnight for tickets to see The Jam....

    It's a long and tragic story. Said mate became very very famous round about that time (and still is)...and us old mates were left behind.

    His loss.

  22. No time for dreams when commerce calls. Tell us who he is JC.

  23. Great post. Great choice of track.

    There's a great short story by Gordon Legge, entitled 'Pop Life', which I think appeared in the book 'Children of Albion Rovers' anthology from a few years back that you should check out if you ever get the chance.

    It's about three guys whose long standing friendship revolves around their love of music, and how they've moved on personally but their mutual love of pop music still brings them back together. It really resonates.

  24. Thank you Darren, and thanks for dropping by. I like the sound of that story very much. 'We're no longer as thicks as thieves' eh?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.