28.10.04

You know there ain't no street like home



I took some time out of my busy schedule to reminisce today. John Peel's death got me to thinking about the music I grew up with, and, as I hadn't listened to most of the stuff for 20 years, I decided to go up to Liam's room, where all my old vinyl and the only remaining record player in the house is. Liam was astonished. He had seen all these big black round things, and he knew that they contained music, but he was perplexed at the rigmarole that had to be gone through to get it to work. What got him most was changing tracks - he wanted to know what button to press. When I told him it had to be done manually, he just looked at me as if I was daft. I sat on the floor surrounded by my old LPs and singles, singing away to the songs like I used to all those years ago. I felt like a teenager again! My favourite bands way back then were The Clash, The Cure, The Undertones, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Sham 69 [tell us the truth...], and, most of all, Stiff Little Fingers - the gravel voiced screamers from Belfast who sang about how the Troubles prevented anyone from having a normal life. Their songs were full of passion, their lyrics full of rage: 'Stuff their f*****g armies / Killing isn't my idea of fun', and 'They take away our freedom / In the name of liberty'. Their lead singer was a lad called Jake Burns, and he was my absolute idol at the time. I just couldn't get enough of them. Their anthem, though, was called Alternative Ulster, which was announced by a lone guitar riff - slow and simple, like a scream - then the drums kicked in, then Burns's gravel voice, screaming "Nuthin' for us in Belfast / The Pound's so old it's a pity" before imploring his peers to "Get an alternative Ulster / Be an anti-security force / Alter your native Ulster / Alter your native land". That was me, I was on an SLF trip. As I went to pick Liam up from his guitar lesson, I took this photo. In my head I was singing along with Jake Burns: "They want to have me here / Have me and hold me near / Hold me down, fasten and tie / But the cars are all flashing me / Bright lights are passing me / I feel life's passing me by".

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