Far From Crazy Pavement

Sometimes you need a healthy does of bile and anger in your music and your art. The world is a fucked up, unpleasant place at the moment, not least the coverage of what is happening in the USA with the protests and riots following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. The racism that blights the history of the USA never seems too far from the surface, a reminder that for all our pretence of 21st century modernity and sophistication attitudes formed over a few hundred years have very deep roots. You never have to dig very far to find racists and supremacists on social media. The absence of moral leadership at the top of US politics is obvious. Worse, the president encourages further, state sponsored violence by quoting racists in his Tweets. There is footage of policemen making white supremacist hand symbols to protesters. The president hides in the White House, issuing demands to State Governors to ‘dominate’ the protesters. In the past, even at moments of crisis- 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King or the Rodney King beating by the LA police- there was a sense that the President should act for the good of all Americans, provide some kind of re-assurance, attempt to unite. Trump does none of this. He separates, he divides, he incites, he fuels hatred. He should be removed.

Escaping through music that takes us away from this is the answer sometimes but it’s also essential to listen to music that reflects the other side of human nature, society, governments and the way that we have chosen to organise ourselves. Beasley Street was written by John Cooper Clarke in response to the poverty of 1970s Salford and Margaret Thatcher’s government and social polices but it’s themes and imagery are universal. Released on his 1980 album Snap, Crackle And Bop and produced by Martin Hannett, it’s a poem/ song with enough lines to ensure John immortality, not least ‘Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies/In a box on Beasley Street’. A contemporary equivalent could be Matt Hancock laughing his way through an interview where he was confronted with a UK death toll of 38, 000 people.

Beasley Street is a torrent of words, JCC painting pictures of squalor, decay and suffering, indelible images of dead men’s overcoats, riff joints, rats with rickets, broken teeth, shit stoppered drains, boys on the wagon and girls on the shelf, poison, lager turning to piss, ageing savages, yellow cats, the smell of cabbage, dead canaries and ‘the fecal dreams of Mr Freud’.

Beasley Street

Isolation Mix Three

It’s over halfway through April already. The weeks seem to be flying by even though some of the days seem very long. This is Isolation Mix Three. I thought I’d do something different from the ambient, blissed out, opiated sounds of the first two mixes and this mix is something that I first wrote about doing in a post here about three years ago. This is an hour and three minutes of spoken word and poetry and music. Andrew Weatherall features in various guises and with various poets, the Beat Generation and The Clash are represented, there’s some reggae and the unmistakable voice of John Cooper Clarke.

Jack Kerouac/Joe Strummer: MacDougal Street Blues

John Cooper Clarke: Twat

Misty In Roots: Introduction to Live At The Counter Eurovision

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Inglan Is A Bitch

The Clash (and Allen Ginsberg): Ghetto Defendant (Extended Version)

Allen Ginsberg/ Tom Waits: Closing Time/America

Andrew Weatherall and Michael Smith: The Deep Hum (At The Heart Of It All)

Joe Gideon and The Shark: Civilisation

Woodleigh Research Facility and Joe Duggan: Downhill

Fireflies and Joe Duggan: Leonard Cohen Knows

BP Fallon and David Holmes: Henry McCullough (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Mike Garry and Joe Duddell: St Anthony: An Ode To Anthony H Wilson (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Allen Ginsberg: I Am A Victim Of Telephone

Beasley Street

John Cooper Clarke’s Beasley Street. Street poetry, I think you’ll agree.

Far from the crazy pavements
…the taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
…on a dirty afternoon
Where the fecal germs of Mr Freud
…are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
in the case of … Beasley street

In the cheap seats where murder breeds
somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don’t need
… a sneak preview of death
Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter is your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
on the edge of Beasley street

Where the action isn’t
That’s where it is
State your position
Vacancies exist
In an X-certificate exercise
Ex-servicemen excrete
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
in a box on Beasley street

From the boarding houses and bedsits full of
…accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze
wearing dead men’s overcoats
You can’t see their feet
A Riff joint shuts – opens up
right down on Beasley street

Cars collide, colours clash
Disaster movie stuff
For the man with the Fu Manchu moustache
revenge is not enough
There’s a dead canery on a swivel seat
there’s a rainbow on the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street
silence is the code

Hot beneath the collar
…an inspector call
Where the perishing stink of squalor
…impregnates the walls
The rats have all got rickets
They spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on …Beasley Street

The hipster and his hired hat
drive a borrowed car
yellow socks and a pink crevat
nothing la-di-dah
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on …Beasley Street

The kingdom of the blind
…a one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
…The doorbells do not ring
A light bulb bursts like a blister
the only form of heat
Where a fellow sells his sister
…down the river on Beasley Street

The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their commom problem is
…that they’re not someone else
The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can’t keep it neat
It’s a fully furnished dustbin
…sixteen Beasley Street

Vince the ageing savage
Betrays no kind of life
…but the smell of yesterday’s cabbage
and the ghost of last year’s wife
Through a constant haze
of deodorant sprays
He says …retreat
Alsatians dog the dirty days
Down the middle of Beasley street

People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
Every time they kiss
It’s a sociologist’s paradise
Each day repeats
Uneasy, cheasy, greasy, queasy
…beastly, Beasley Street

Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph
On a permanent monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street

I Don’t Want To Be Nice

Some more bile for you.

I was planning to post this anyway, but after spending the last five hours at the Manchester Childrens’ Hospital waiting for a CT Scan with a special needs 11 year old who hasn’t been allowed to eat since yesterday, only to be told that the scan won’t happen because they’re an anaesthetist down today, well, I don’t want to be nice. Not that it’s anyone’s particular fault.

The bard of Salford, the punk poet, Nico’s flatmate, Manchester Dylan lookalike… Mr John Cooper Clarke, originally from the Disguise In Love lp (geddit). This song features Martin Hannett at the controls and playing bass. In case you were wondering.

04 I Don’t Want to Be Nice.wma

John Cooper Clarke ‘Twat’

One of the bard of Salford’s greatest moments to brighten up your Sunday. It turns out we know the subject of the bile in this poem. Trying to keep things as anonymous as possible, a friend of ours had a child the same time as our eldest was born. The father of the friend’s child (father and mother are no longer together as a couple) shared a house with John Cooper Clarke way back when, and various events took place prompting the Salford Bob Dylan lookalike to write this about him. So many great lines in this poem- and as a bonus you can probably apply it to someone in your life as well.