Sunday, February 10, 2019

songs swiping at rock writers

interview with Robyn Hitchcock

I swore that I wouldn't touch upon The Soft Boys but, very quickly, there was this song you used to do called "The Lonesome Death Of Ian Penman". Whatever happened to that?
Well, it was recorded -- there's probably a quarter-inch version of it knocking around. We never used it -- I think, to avoid libel, we phased out the vocal. Ian Penman was one of the people who put the knife into The Soft Boys' back. And I've never forgiven any of those people. I don't forgive easily. If they're still alive and I've finally made it when I'm ninety-three, they've got it coming. When N.M.E. finally comes to my door on its knees for a front cover feature, I shall say, "Only if you get Ian Penman out of whatever institution he's in, have him cleaned out and sent 'round to apologise for his crimes publicly!" I can understand people not liking Can Of Bees. But it was defenceless. The Soft Boys were an easy target. We didn't have any allies -- any support. We didn't have a record deal. We financed the stuff ourselves. We had a small coterie of hard-core fans. And the whole thing was demolished. I thought it was peculiarly cruel to pick on an act that was suffering from having been the flavour-of-the-month. My bitterness knows no bounds. My vocation in life is as a songwriter, and my concern is to write better and better songs (or at least maintain a standard). The Soft Boys' manifesto was one of taking bits and pieces -- a bit like a collage, like if you gummed a tomato to a squirrel's head and then gaffer-taped a pigeon's wings to a cucumber. I would say that The Soft Boys were about arrangements rather than songs. After Andy left I was getting much more concerned with songs. There was coherence of approach because Kimberley was more interested in the Pop side (and so was Matthew) -- towards things like "Queen Of Eyes". But there was a legacy of doing funny stuff in funny time signatures. So the short list for Underwater Moonlight was weird because there was material like "Alien", "Old Pervert" (which did make it on there), "The Lonesome Death Of Ian Penman" (which still had the idea of skeletal guitar riffs and funny time signatures).

Sounds and NME punk men swatted in one fell swipe

Xgau swiped by Thurston & Co

Adam swipes Nick Kent and (if i recall right) Bushell

Bob Smith's swipe target = Morley

Not actually aimed at a journalist, although it could be - but a pretentious fellow musician, apparently

there are others i'm sure

added thanks to comments box reminder: 

aimed at (I believe) Mat Snow, a Dave housemate guilty of an indiscretion in the pages of NME. But extended to the entire profession, and making interviewing Cave (as I did in '87 for the first time) a rather sticky business. 

also added thanks to comments box reminder:

believe that is Axl Versus Bob Guccione Jr and perhaps one or two other journos

songs not swiping but containing rock writers

in this case the ghost of L. Bangs


  1. The atrocious "Get in the Ring" by Guns 'n' Roses

    At the other end of the artistic scale, (non-music) journalists attacked in one of my favourite songs of all time:

  2. nick cave "scum":

  3. you are right JAM - and I had "Scum" in my mind and then got distracted and forgot to copy the code

    clean forgot Anon about "Get in the Ring" versus Bob Guccione Jnr (and others? i can't remember)

    i didn't know that about 'Back on the Chain Gang' , never listened to the lyric that closely. it is a great tune