Friday, 9 November 2012

Nice Things #6 - John Cooper Clarke

I’ve been under the weather recently, so I haven’t had time to write a full, involved ‘Nice Things’ piece this week. Thought I should still post something anyway, so here’s an audio clip of punk poet John Cooper Clarke performing his sweary opus ‘Evidently Chickentown’ at breakneck speed in Dublin back in 1981.

My friend Anna got me tickets to see him last week at Brighton Dome as a birthday present. It was a brilliant evening, somewhere between a poetry night and a stand-up comedy show, with no chin-stroking or pretentiousness in sight. After sterling support from poets Luke Wright and Mike Garry, Clarke took to the stage to rant on a range of topics from marine biology to how much he dislikes Terry Pratchett. The audience was extraordinarily mixed – from old fans who might have seen him support Siouxsie and the Banshees in the 70s, to teenagers who have most likely been introduced to his work more recently, via his appearance in Plan B’s film ‘Ill Manors’.
This poem ‘Evidently Chickentown’ was his encore that night, being perhaps his most well known piece. He performed it (as himself) in Anton Corbijn’s Joy Division biopic ‘Control’, while the 1980 studio version (which replaces most of the fucks with bloodys) provided the closing music for the penultimate episode of the Sopranos.

I do remember that my schoolteachers always used to say that one shouldn’t use profanities in written compositions – they never work. But Cooper Clarke disproves this; there really are times when only the ‘f’ word will suffice. As if to emphasize that, his work has recently been added to the National Curriculum…

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