What became of the likely lads?
I read a few interesting articles recently that had nothing to do with music really, but made me think. The first article, published by the online version of UK broadsheet the Guardian, was talking about the once promising footballer Kieron Dyer. His career never really took off due to his injury prone body. Despite him only playing just over 300 games during his 17 year-long professional career, he managed to become a lavishly paid player. Author Barney Ronay argues that Dyer was actually a child of the new Premier League, that brought vast amounts of cash to English football clubs. Therefore it wasn’t his fault for being paid that much money, even though he was probably not worth it, but the systems fault. Interesting thought.
The second article, also in the Guardian, talks about tv drama Skins. This article makes a point of the program capturing the spirit of a generation. Of youth, adolescence, anorexia, homosexuality, drugs, sex and mainly not giving a shit. Well the last one might sound quite harsh, but I have argued here before, that we might have a generational problem of not taking responsibilities and so on, and so forth (read here). So now, you might ask yourself what football and a tv-show named ‚Skins‘ has to do with music?
Just a few weeks ago, a band named Babyshambles released their new single. Soon, their new album is going to be released via Warner. Does anyone actually remember that band? I think teens that listen to Skrillex and the likes are probably too young to remember, but there was a time at the start of the new millennium, when Berlin wasn’t the cultural hot-spot for the easyjetset, David Guetta was spinning tunes in some small bars and we just had to get rid of the Nu-Metal stuff that people were just into for some reason – let’s file it under Jugendsünde. But all of a sudden, there was a massive blow up of English indie bands. Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park or the aforementioned Babyshambles. Though you would have to go back to before they were formed. The driving force, especially in the UK, was Babyshamble’s predecessor The Libertines. London was their birthplace. And, as so often the case with the UK music press, they were the poster boys of this new movement. And Camden was the hotspot.
I don’t have a problem with that. Not at all. But here comes the connection. I never understood, why people valued Pete(r) Doherty so much. That guy is a crackhead. Maybe an intelligent one, and maybe he’s writing good lyrics… Ah, who am I kidding? Can anybody (my English friends included) explain to me what’s so good about his lyrics? He’s singing about Albion, the great old dream of England. Ok. Fair enough, he’s read a book about it. SO WHAT? I know so many other guys who write lyrics that I can relate to so much better than that weirdo who sings about some jolly pothead crap. And I haven’t even started talking about his music. I mean seriously. Have you actually listened to it? The new single at least can hold a rhythm, something completely missing in his ‚earlier‘ work. Fuck me. None of the songs on his first two outings sound anywhere near finished. If there is anybody that tries to tell me that is arty or whatever is only lying to themselves. It’s because he can’t write it any better. He doesn’t hit one note correctly. NOT ONE!!! Ah well, maybe people love him so much, because of the ‚Kieron Dyer‘ syndrome. It’s not about what he actually did, but what people projected onto him. He showed some promise with two decent rock records he co-wrote(!) for the Libertines. Then he ended on smack, too much booze and other shit. But that’s ok. Deep down he’s just this misunderstood poetic genius with a broken heart (thanks to Kate Moss) and a massive drug problem (thanks Carl Barat). Give me a fucking break.
So maybe Doherty was unfortunate, but maybe he was just the Kieron Dyer of his generation. I remember that me and my friends talked about him dying with 27, so he could join the legendary club of 27. But then he didn’t and what happens now is all just painful to watch. To me, he’s lost his relevance. Why should I be excited for a forthcoming album from a wannabe rockstar that never lived up to his own hype. Sure, hype is not what he created, but he played his part. I don’t think, looking back, that Doherty helped to form a generation, as maybe Hendrix or Cobain have done. He’s much more just an image of his generation. If you want to remind yourself of what went wrong during the early 2000s and still is, you only have to look as far as him. He aspires to be significant, but he’s helpless in a world full of possibilities. He’s not acting, he’s not making decisions. His songs show that. He’s too scared to finish a song, so he leaves us with bits and bobs. His lyrics show, that he’s longing for the security and maybe the easier life of generations passed – even though, that might not be true. While other songwriters of the ‚class of the 2000s‘ like Alex Turner, or Kele were thorough observers of their surroundings, and were able to capture the life of that generation, Doherty tends to fall into a sort of other worldliness. To me it feels like he’s trying to be a Bob Dylan, but he was always too drugged up, so he ended up as some sort of romanticising Roger Waters with shady songwriting skills and a vocal ability that should be put to bed before he could enter a recording studio.
For my part, I could have done with him leaving us alone. Leaving memories to the ones that think they need to remember him. I couldn’t care less about him. It’s strange then, that I write about him for that long, but sometimes you have to speak your mind. Sometimes you have to put the words that jitter around your head together and tell people what you think. Thank god music is a very personal experience. But I don’t want to hear about him. There are others that deserve a lot more attention. In the press and in your ears.
Thanks for reading.