April 17, 2014
I can never fully understand why Bob Dylan is always regarded as the greatest songwriter alive, when there is someone like Pete Shelley who is obviously a much better melody maker as well as a lyricist. I first heard the Buzzcocks when I was close to 20, which was at the height of the punk era. I purchased the 7” EP “Sprial Scratch” at the day of its release. I think at Bomp records in the San Fernando Valley. The combination of Howard Devoto’s lyrics and Shelley’s music hit me hard. After Devoto quit the band, I thought that was it for the Buzzcocks, but alas, I was totally wrong. “Another Music in a Different Kitchen” their first full album was an amazing piece of work that made my head spin and my heartbeat go faster. Over the years, including his incredible solo albums, I noticed that Shelley writes at least two types of songs - one is the pretty melody done fast and hard, and the second, which is my favorite by the way, is the song that if you did a painting of it, the shape would be a circle. They are zen captured as a pop song. Songs like “Autonomy,” “Why Can’t I Touch It?,” “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life,” “Noise Annoys,” “ESP,” and the incredible “I Believe” convey not an answer, but if you ask the question over and over again you may get some sort of peace. Shelley is screaming out over and over “There’s no love in this world anymore, ” has such an effect on my life.
That sense of anger in his songs liberated me on a huge level. The only other time I felt that way was when I first saw Lindsay Anderson’s “If…”, a film that ignited my soul, that I finally realized I wasn’t alone in the world. That film opened at the height of my time at Parkman Junior High School, which to me was just like being condemned in a concentration camp. It is one thing to get bullied by a fellow student, but to be bullied by your teachers I think is a total sin, if such a thing exists. The fact that I was taken to the main office of the gym teachers, and called a ‘fag’ over and over again, strikes me as not a nice thing to do with a 14 years old boy. I wasn’t aware of the “what” or “why” when they march me to the shower and then made me to take off all my clothes and take a shower, and then afterwards they told me to do it again, and this time get my hair wet. I didn’t do it the first time, due that I had long hair, and it took forever to dry. I was, and still am, very vain with respect to my appearance. It seemed to me that Anderson captured the whole school experience for me, and I couldn’t believe someone captured that and I can see it on the big screen. The final scene where the students go up on the roof and shoot down the teachers and fellow students made my heart warm. It was at that moment where I decided I will not be impacted by these people anymore.
Of course, this set me down the path to find the artist that I feel is not respected by the masses, which ironically enough, are the reason why I would like an artist. Billy Fury, like Shelley and Anderson, represent a harsh world upon a sensitive soul, and therefore I become a huge fan of that person. When I first heard Billy Fury’s “Don’t Jump, Billy, ” it also was like a moment that lasted forever, even though the song was only a few minutes long. The beautiful image of the song for me is imagining Fury on the edge of a mountain cliff, and down below are the rocks and sea. Splattered on the rocks, yet the sea will carry his remains to another world. Yet the chorus in the song behind him pleads “Billy don’t jump.” That and the songs by Pete Shelley are probably the most moving works of art for me. “If…, suggested a better world within a horror show, and it was at that moment that I realized I didn’t need a gun or a weapon. My pen on paper is the perfect weapon for me.