“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never today.”

Thus spake the Queen of Hearts to Alice in 1865. And thus spake Paul Weller to my generation in 1979:

Life is timeless, days are long when you’re young
You used to fall in love with everyone
Any guitar and any bass drum
Life is a drink and you get drunk when you’re young
Life is new and there’s things to be done
You can’t wait to be grown up
Acceptance into the capital world
You pull on some weed, then you pull on someone when you’re young
But you find out life isn’t like that
It’s so hard to comprehend
Why you set up your dreams to have them smashed in the end
But you don’t mind you’ve got time on your side
And they’re never gonna make you stand in line
You’re just waiting for the right time
You’re fearless and brave – you can’t be stopped when you’re young
You swear you’re never ever gonna work for someone
No corporations for the new age sons
Tears of rage roll down your face
But still you say “it’s fun”
And you find out life isn’t like that
It’s so hard to understand
Why the world is your oyster but your future’s a clam
It’s got you in its grip before you’re born
It’s done with the use of a dice and a board
They let you think you’re king but you’re really a pawn
You’re fearless and brave – you can’t be stopped when you’re young
You used to fall in love with everyone
Any guitar and any bass drum

the-jam-paul-weller

Look at him! Just f*cking look at him!!! I say that now, with nearly four decades of hindsight. I have never been an obsessive hero worshipper; I have been lucky enough to plunder many and various sources of inspiration. But I see it clearly now, how this young man shone through the fug of my suburban teenage angst and conformity. He had what I subconsciously knew I wanted: the youth, the anger, the stance, the expression, the energy, the natty threads, the Rickenbacker, the sheer intent, the compelling certainty. Absolutely f*cking glorious!!! Everything I aspired to be but knew I wouldn’t. Because I’m me, not him, and I would do it my way..and besides, if you’re not a white male you do tend to think differently about the hegemony. Hell, at the time I didn’t even think I was allowed to voice a protest… keep your head down, integrate, absorb the direct and indirect bodyblows that said you were inferior, that you therefore ought to feel grateful… Ooh, I’m off… a tale for another day, methinks… So Weller, Strummer and The Specials did it for me and I luxuriated in their slipstream, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up…

Going to see the Jam was like a religious pilgrimage, Crawley Leisure Centre the first time, thereafter always in Brighton. Every new single was a solemn ritual. Remove from sleeve, careful fingertips barely touching the edge of the vinyl, staring at the 45 rpm rotation on the turntable, repeat. I could never quite get all the words through the Woking snarl, but I got the gist. Oh boy, did I get the gist!

A defining call, a wake up moment. This is when I made a step up. The next, musically speaking was Talking Heads’ Fear of Music. In books it was Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. At the movies, Life of Brian, still for me celluloid’s most audacious, most deeply funny film.

I’ve tried to keep this on an academic level; of course there are personal events that change us all forever, but these are experienced alone and cannot be shared. Over to you now… What were the defining outside influences that changed your lives and became a part of you?

And if Paul Weller is reading this… My heartfelt thanks, you meant a great deal to me once upon a time… (nice blazer, but could have done better with the video though!)

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