What I said back then:
Oh, this is an oddity. I had a punk phase (well, OK, a wannabe punk phase), and there will be evidence in the shape of the Buzzcocks along in a while, and then I had a New Wave phase, which lasted a bit longer, and was a bit more serious, and involved buying things like Magazine singles, and then I had a particularly ill-judged rock phase (yes, some gruesome evidence to follow…) during which, all traces of my past were obliterated or at least left in Aberdeen while I moved to Edinburgh. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, and it was a combination of the sainted John Peel and a Magazine song which opened my eyes.
I have no idea now why Andrew, Graeme and I were driving (in Graeme’s famous Escort) through bits of Morningside, listening to John Peel, but we were. On comes ‘Shot by Both Sides’ – again, I have no idea why; perhaps it was a personal message. Something in me aches with a painful nostalgia for the last of my schooldays – all of three years before – and the excitement of those times when everything seemed possible, and probably was. I quietly resolve not to be so blinkered in my musical tastes. Slowly, but surely, it works…
What I think now:
You know what? That ill-judged rock phase – there’s been barely a hint of it so far, and I don’t think it’s about to make a sudden comeback. There was a two or three year period back then when I narrowed my listening tastes, but there’s been very little long-term effect, as evidenced by this list. Not sure what I feel about that.
I didn’t become a Howard Devoto fan; I don’t own anything besides this one song by Magazine, although I’m sure I had some tapes back in the late seventies. I am vaguely aware that they’re back together and doing new material, but unlike some bands I can think of, I don’t feel any urgent desire to check it out. It is what it is – a perfect, crystallised memory of a time and a place when I felt something in me shift.
Well, John Peel died, of course. Not, I’m sure, as a result of my elevating him to the sainthood. I feel I should pause for a moment and reflect on him, although it’s hard to separate out specifics, since he was simply there throughout those formative years – late evenings, lying in the dark, listening to all kinds of bizarre noise because it was surrounded by simply the most comforting voice ever to take to the airwaves. I heard a recording of a show from about 1978 recently, and it transported me back to my tiny boxroom in Aberdeen effortlessly. John Peel was talking to me, and all was well with the world.
I also smile at the thought that my parents were not exactly approving of the whole ‘late night listening to a cacophony on the radio when I should have been asleep’ thing, but were utterly enchanted by ‘Home Truths’. As, of course, was I – presented by anyone else, it would have been insufferably twee and middle class; presented by Peelie, it was just part of all of us. Eight years gone, never forgotten.