The artists who defined my youth all die at a frightening pace. It almost feels like routine. Soon my youth will be erased. Soon I will look at the musical landscape and feel nothing. No joy, no hate, no melancholy, no nausea. Losing my youth also means losing originality, chaos, excitement and unpredictability. What’s the fun of listening to perfectly produced replicas?
Last week Mark E. Smith died. Diary entry for the 24th of January:
“The most important news came in the evening. Yesterday it was exactly 42 years ago Bowie released ‘Station to Station’. A masterpiece, undervalued in a way, sandwiched between his American phase and the famous Berlin trilogy. That was yesterday. Today Mark E. Smith, the founder and only permanent member of The Fall, died at the age of 60. He already looked horrible for at least a decade. The price of a diet of booze, amphetamine and cigarettes. I wasn’t ready for it. In retrospect he represents more of my past than I was willing to admit. Towards the end of the 80’s I had furious debates with my first real girlfriend about the merits and the quality of The Fall. I wasn’t ready back then. In 1992 I bought two illegal Fall tapes on a market in Krakow; ‘This nation’s saving grace’ (1985) and ‘Extricate’ (1990). Those albums were my gateway drugs to the universe of The Fall and Mark E. Smith. By 1993 I was hooked and bought ‘The Infotainment Scan’ upon release. And now he’s dead and it saddens me more than I expected. Not only because of my musical memories, but because it symbolises the gradual eradication of my youth. What happens when all my heroes are gone? What happens when there are literally no more heroes left? Is that the moment you switch off from the world and wait for your death? I already feel disconnected, a doomsday moniker with an ever-increasing distrust in modern technology. Doomsday technology like Facebook, Google and Twitter is only the beginning. Fake news is nothing more than a grand scale application of human nature. We troll, we insult, we dehumanise, we fill the Internet with filth in the name of freedom of speech. Look around. I only see technology enabled dehumanization. I want to romantically go back to the 80’s, pick up a landline when I want to meet someone and hope that person is home. I want to be comforted by Mark E. Smiths rants and watch Twin Peaks unfold on a week by week basis.”
Sometimes life is like a new bar
Plastic seats, beer below par
Food with no taste, music grates
I’m living too late (The Fall – Living too late)
The music of The Fall is a strange beast. It’s not beautiful, not complex (not musically at least), it actually has no particular charm. For me it feels like looking at Malevich’s Black Square; a weird and unique experience. You can argue its value. Is it even art? Or you can just accept its existence.
I have nothing more to say
But…final note to everyone who thinks that in a #MeToo age we cannot just mourn. No one believes or claims Mark E. Smith was a nice person. He was a control freak and a dictator, a violent and unpleasant man, who hired and fired band members as if he was still living in the 19th century. There is no justification, but also no relationship between the man and his art. Don’t prey on his death.Tweet