Hats off to Paul Weller – if only there were more pop stars like him

His outburst was a welcome attack on the sleazebags and parasites who blight everyday life with their cheapskate schemes and tawdry little enterprises

 

Share

The organisers of Record Store Day might be disappointed by Paul Weller’s announcement that he’ll no longer be involved, but they shouldn’t be. Now everyone knows about this annual celebration of vinyl racks and “real” music, and even if a mere handful of people are inspired to buy a turntable and get spinning, then it’s job done.

Weller’s stand came after he discovered that copies of the limited edition single he’d done for Record Store Day had been put on eBay before they went on sale on the day itself. Apart from doing the back-to-vinyl movement a big favour, the episode confirms that he’s one of the last of a dying breed – the good guys of rock. He can come across as something of a curmudgeon, but there’s always been the sense that his heart and mind are in the right place.

His outburst was a welcome attack on the sleazebags and parasites who blight everyday life with their cheapskate schemes and tawdry little enterprises. The endorsement by the new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid of ticket-touting (or scalping, as the Americans say, a much more on-the-button name for it) passed by with remarkably little moral outrage.

Weller has form in the curmudgeon stakes, famously spluttering with anger when told that David Cameron had named “Eton Rifles” as his all-time favourite song. “Which part of it doesn’t he get?” he wondered. “It wasn’t intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps.”

 Perhaps the most curmudgeonly thing he ever did was to split up The Jam at the height of their fame. They were always a band apart, thanks in part to his lyrics, which could be elegiac and wistful for old values, but often with a jagged edge, an anger at the state of things.

Rather than allowing The Jam to become a heritage band, he ended it all when they were still at the top, saying, “I’d hate us to end up old and embarrassing like so many other groups do. I want us to finish with dignity.” And so he did (though the other two weren’t as keen), hoping that the memory of the band – which had stood, he said, “for honesty, passion, energy and youth”, could “maybe exist as a guideline for new groups coming up to improve and expand upon”.

As Bob Stanley recalls in Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, Weller capped ticket prices for Jam gigs and always made sure they finished in time for fans to catch the last train home. It’s the kind of thing you might imagine Bruce Springsteen doing, and he’s one of the few other rock giants who comes to mind as possessing the kind of qualities that make Weller stand out.

Who else is there? Bob Geldof, of course, and Chrissie Hynde, forever kicking up a fuss for good causes. Stories abound, too, of how terrific a bloke Robert Plant is, while Guy Garvey, judging by his brilliant 6Music radio show, is the all-time nicest man on the planet. There’s Bono, some might say, but he’s disqualified by the air of preening self-importance that seems to hang around him.

That’s the quality that marks out the likes of Weller and Springsteen – their stardom seems to matter little to them. They come across as regular, right-thinking guys who happen to be musical gods. Representatives of the modern breed – will.i.am, say – are certainly stars. But there’s a sense that this is what’s most important to them, and most important about how we view them. I could tell you a fair bit about will.i.am, but I couldn’t hum many of his tunes.

It used to be about the music; now it’s about the wealth and status music can bring you. Which is why vinyl is important for reasons that go beyond sound quality and good design. It’s a reminder of old values. We need Record Store Day, but we also need grumpy old men like Paul Weller telling us what’s what.

Why Paul might not be the only one going underground

The B612 Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting us from asteroids, has put out a cheery little video detailing each of the major impacts between 2000 and 2013. The voiceover is calm, almost robotic, giving the whole thing a sinister quality to chill the bones. They ranged in explosive power from one to 600 kilotons. For comparison, the Hiroshima A-bomb was 15 kilotons.

Happily, they all exploded in the atmosphere and caused little damage down here – and unlike the Chelyabinsk incident last year, most of them occurred over the oceans. The foundation is backing the Sentinel telescope, which from 2018 is scheduled to scan the skies from orbit and give us early warnings. The message is clear: it needs only one of the asteroids to get through and we could be on our way to mass extinction. Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe diem.

Twitter: @cmaume

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

Recruitment Genius: Java Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity for an ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading digital agenci...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Health workers of the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres take part in training  

Are we starting to see the end of Ebola? Not quite, but we're well on our way

Tom Solomon
 

I loathe the term ‘hard-working people’. It's patronising, snobbish and wrong

Simon Kelner
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea