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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower