“I don’t know what it is, but it makes me feel crazy I don’t know what it is but it makes reality hazy, I don’t know what it is but I got the feeling that it might be love”
As the sad news drifted in this week of the passing of Pete Shelley and the subsequent remembrance of a man who gave so much of his own soul throughout his career and most importantly through his lyrics, lyrics that resonated with so many and lyrics that inspired not just a few, my mind drifted to the first paragraph of this scribe. Simple lyrics, perhaps simple thoughts in every person’s mind but try communicate these words out loud, try saying those words to loved and potential loved ones, no doubt for much a memory that has never been shared, then maybe take memory, take that thought and bare it all, I mean tell the loved and potential loved ones, tell them face to face, tell them in a lyric, write a song that millions will hear – that takes the bollocks of a man to be open, be himself and not give a shit what anyone thought. Yes he was punk, yes he was rock and yes he was …. well Pete Shelley, but he put it out there for us and for the love of what he loves. He lived his life as if there was only one and for him his life was music and his life was sharing that music with the world. By all accounts, he looked at life as if life was long and compared to some it was but for us and his close friends and family it was far too short.
A hugely underrated songwriter, Shelley of Buzzcocks fame was a frontman to inspire a generation, a romantic punk poet that people could relate with perhaps more than the likes of Johnny Rotten who said shared some beautiful truthful punk moments not just in songs but in life :
“I never knew there was a law against sounding vulnerable. And anyway, personal politics are part of the human condition, so what could be more political than human relationships? Many of those songs are more about not having love- the downside of things.”
“We were sick of those boring old farts from America and, if our songs sounded bleak, well that’s normal if you live in Manchester. It’s grim up North,”
“I find it easy coming up with ideas for songs. Finishing them is where the work is. It’s lyrics which take the toll on me. It’s because I’m trying to do something which seems so natural and throwaway – and because faking sincerity is the hardest thing to do, unless you’re a psychopath.”
Personally I wish I had been around in the day to truly appreciate the brilliance of Pete Shelley but the lack of age has been my downfall on this occasion. Thankfully for me, when brilliance is in our midst it survives the test of time and despite what some people say about the state of rock n’ roll is these days with online, social and all that jazz …… This very online, social, “wasn’t like this in my day” shit is the very thing that turns people like me onto music that we couldn’t fully appreciate when we didn’t have the chance …… Is that really a bad thing ?? We couldn’t be there at the time, was that our fault??? I mean does anyone really give a shit that David Rodigan wasn’t born in Jamaica ??? Of course they don’t, because he is a pioneer and he appreciates what he does ……… As for Pete Shelley – We can all appreciate what he did for UK Punk music – He will be missed by so many and of course our thoughts and hearts go out to Pete’s family and close friends, his death is too soon, it’s untimely BUT if we are to look at any positives and as hard as it may seem right now, I know that so many more people will be turned onto Pete Shelley and the music he gave us, so many that didn’t get a chance before and with that, they will celebrate Pete Shelley, as we all should ….. A beautiful man and most amazing songwriter.
Thank you for everything Pete x