There have been thousands of words written about sounds. That imminent response to the music. That desire to share our thoughts with others. Or sell our thoughts. When I started my fanzine – I was 16 years old – feeling the world was ready to listen to my voice. There were those that read ‘em and those that writ ‘em. I in my youthful zeal wanted the world to know about the bands I liked – I wanted those bands to know that they were liked and in all of that came correspondence and shared dreams.
I remember putting the first ‘Get that Anorak Off’ together – not certain it would ever see the light of day but writing it nonetheless – because when you’re holed up in a dark northern world perhaps the primitives can add some brighter times to it all. And from that grew all this. The writing now I guess is a throwback to typed evenings about The Nivens or The Impossibles.
I would receive letters – tenfold through the box – from Sheffield, Rotherham, London and Derby. And sometimes a letter would wind its way to our Scunthorpe address postmarked New Zealand or Singapore. Those anoraks get worn around the world- and to have someone request a fanzine from another country felt exotic – we weren’t global connected by the technology – only by the pen and our shared understanding of The Brilliant Corners – Collin communicating from other worlds through a communal love of cheap guitars. I let him down to be honest – Collin was a charming, exciting, energetic young man – who ventured to these very shores – to study – to swallow the independent vibes. He rang me up – several times – and I was so far inside my love of the self – this club scene maaaan – that I never met the bloke. You know he’d taken time to write me a letter – about music and I never took the time to get on a bus and visit him in Huddersfield – it’s not on really. We could have talked about music for hours.
And I didn’t bother.
And one from a girl named Lucy. I let her down. And this post is the one where I say sorry – we’d communicated about this and that – about music that touched our hearts and fanzine writing and reading. She ventured to China – you can do that when you’re confident – or you do that to make you confident. And she sent me a fanzine – her fanzine – in a padded envelope – hand written – typed in places – and I still have it.
Our correspondence dry and fading.
I wish I could give it back to her – I don’t know where she is – but I should have made it up and put it out there – but the London life had curtailed friendship – as I fell in love with acid house. It isn’t a good enough excuse – it’s running away from responsibility. If only I had had a little more conviction back then instead of filling my poise with arrogance and wishful dreams of teenage romance. It takes guts to be gentle and kind and I was full of barbarism [it had most likely began at home] and that is not a state to be repeated, treated or re-heated.
So it still resides – in the envelope – all her expressions of excitement – locked down and going nowhere [fast]. I feel guilty about that – I feel guilty about lots of things but that one resonates at times. Because she trusted me to do it – and I didn’t.
I didn’t do it clean – I didn’t do it at all.
Aggi was another – all swirls and ink. She could write her heart on a page – all open and honest and beating to the sounds of the underground. I let her down too. All London trains and shared rooms as we made our way to The Pastels at the ULU. Where Ride played their first ever gig in London and she’s dragging me in from the bar to make me listen – and I’m talking rock n roll with Bobby G and being a shit host – I feel bad about that too. Perhaps I never professed to be a jingle jangle fey pop lover – but a little bit of common decency wouldn’t have gone amiss. Too much Thunderbird and fawning over myself.
You see gigs like the pastels united the fray. That simple response to rock n roll – without the posturing and posing. We weren’t looking for heroes – we just liked music. We like guitars that fed back, twanged and jangled. We liked singers who sang about simple things – but simple things that mattered. There was simply nothing else to be done. It was the love of the sounds and our fanzines allowed the magical connections to keep on firing. Music unites like that – so here’s to simple responses. I first heard The Pastels in the 1980s – this Scottish drawl over repetitive guitars. This DIY approach to POP – The Pastels were never twee – they often get held up as this overly fey group – but Stephen Pastel was a PuNK as the rest of ‘em. Their brand of pop – fizzed and chugged – it fell apart and fed back. It was independent.
And so was fanzine writing.
Fanzine writing was about connections – making friends through words and sometimes we were all looking for friends. So what has any of this to do with the music? I suppose that music whilst a solitary act of appreciation and aesthetics is a shared understanding – it’s a glance or a look – a smile or cheer in the right [wrong] direction.
And sometimes you should look people right in the face – right in their eyes.
I would now
And I would say sorry
And hopefully a tune would be playing that made everything that little bit easier.