Friday, October 01, 2004


“in the bowling alleys, in the morning papers
something good got lost along the way

we could be high
I want to make you understand”

The idiom that, for me, most perfectly expresses the human condition in our day is pop music. More serious music had its limitations exposed by theorists, who murdered it; the novel is done; poetry sucked dry by vampire practitioners, who throttled the life out of it in dusty metaphor and empty “meaning”-soaked word-games. None of it even begins to feel like life.

In the 80s – a very distant age now – Paul Buchanan captured urban living for me and made it into an album. Or he seemed to. I didn’t live in a city then, although it is what I dreamed of. I dreamed that my young love would be as exhilirating as Tinseltown in the rain sounded. I imagined that I would feel yearning as deep as he sang in Automobile noise. His band, The Blue Nile, made blue-eyed soul that defined “ache”. It was almost painfully intense, exquisitely sensitive music, which I, a sensitive boy, couldn’t fail to love.

It’s a long time between then and now, and a lot of water has gone under the bridge. The yearning Buchanan sings now has a name – it is his life gone by, what it might have been, what it became. It is breaking my heart to listen to it. Who gave this guy the script of my movie?

If you pride yourself on being “young at heart”, this will not be for you. These are the songs that a man sings who has had the absolute shit kicked out of him but will not fold. You have to be older, wiser, tougher to go where he goes. You have to know that romanticism, far from being just the folly of youth, is what keeps men like Buchanan – and me, I pray I still am that man – going. He knows the absolute value of love. He ain’t too proud to beg. It’s not raw. It doesn’t have attitude. It has real.


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