Now So Much Waste How We’ll Be Teased

It is the 50th anniversary of the events of May 1968 where students and workers in Paris staged a series of strikes and demonstrations that very nearly brought the government down, tapping into and inspiring a year of revolution and turmoil. Back in May 1988 it was the 20th anniversary and I remember watching an excellent Channel 4 documentary about it and reading various articles and features while I was supposed to be revising for my A Levels.
A year later, May 1989, The Stone Roses released their debut album which was peppered with references to May 68 (along with a regicide fantasy) which made The Roses seem like a political band, revolutionaries maybe, a view of them that has been lost over the years. On Bye Bye Badman Ian Brown sings about the smoke and choke of tear gas and the neutralising effect citrus fruit has onĀ  CS gas (something an old man told them in a pub according to interviews). The lemons on the album cover and T-shirts repeat this. ‘I’m throwing stones at you’ Ian croons, to the policeman in the picture above, the cobblestones of the streets of Paris underneath which would be found the beach. Ian would return to May 68 on solo songs (Corpses In Their Mouths was a Situationist slogan of the time).
The song on that sparkling debut album that precedes Bye Bye Badman is the one I can keep coming back to, that hasn’t become over familiar. Don’t Stop is Waterfall backwards. It’s an easy studio trick, reverse the tape and see what happens- trippy whooshing sounds, stoned, Satanic vocals and a 60s vibe. But Don’t Stop is much better than merely a lazy studio mucking about session. John Squire’s backwards guitar riff is a joy, sucking the distortion and lead lines into new shapes and Reni’s new rhythm track puts it in touch with another revolution, the one of 1988-90 that was taking place in nightclubs, warehouses and fields. For the words John listened to the backwards Waterfall vocal and then wrote down what the lines suggested, resulting in something close to poetry.
‘Don’t stop, isn’t it funny how you shine?
Here the sea spray give
I was with her
We’re under the ship so get me over
Now that was me, listen
Now she fishes now, listen
There was no one out there we used
There is the news for me useless
Now so much waste
How we’ll be teased
Don’t stop, isn’t it funny how you shine?
Don’t stop, isn’t it funny how you shine?
Oh won’t you just ask me you’re an imbecile
What’s the matter for everyone I feel
Pain, blues singer
He’s playing just a guitar from the top
I wake I still look I feel loose
We’re all here now who’s the first ease into my heart
He must be one of us’
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Mentioning the Situationists earlier reminded me of them- not that I know a great deal about them- and how they’ve been a part of ‘music’ since the 60s, with those riots in Paris in 1968 and the whole 60s subculture, Malcolm McLaren, Sex Pistols, punk’s sloganeering generally, The Stone Roses and elsewhere. Greil Marcus does this sort of thing better than me and at far greater length. The slogans and graffiti have been evident over the last few years with the various protests, not least the Occupy Movement and also with silly old Banksy. Still, Situationist slogans can be pretty good even if they read more like something you’d buy on a T-shirt in Top Shop now than an actual call for change.

Be realistic- demand the impossible
Underneath the paving stones, the beach
No freedom for the enemies of freedom
Only the truth is revolutionary
Speechmaking is counter-revolutionary
Millionaires of the world unite- the wind is turning
The golden age was when gold didn’t reign
Are you a consumer or a participant?
Going through the motions kills emotions
We demand games with great seriousness
When examined, answer with questions
Unbutton your mind as often as you unbutton your fly
Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking
Abolish copyright; sound structures belong to everyone
This concerns everyone
When the last sociologist is hung with the guts of the last bureaucrat, will we still have ‘problems’?
You may only be 25 but your Trade Union dates from the last century
The boss needs you, you don’t need the boss
Let’s not change bosses, let’s change life
Run, the old world is behind you
No replastering, the structure is rotten
Boredom is counter-revolutionary

Yeah, well, like, whatevs.