Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

New Year Drudion 2006CE

January 2006ce

Hail y’all and New Year Greetings…

… to all Children of the Heath and People of the Moor (or should that be heathens and morons, all?). The Yuletide came and went a little too quickly for me this year, and I’ve already been out on the road picking up various items of far flung musical equipment in preparation for the February tour. I gotta say that the December reviews of DARK ORGASM now seem even more superb after being subjected – these past few days – to seemingly endless radio traffic news and weather reports interspersed with worthy drivel such as Coldplay and all the rest of the PC Plod that currently mungs up our airwaves. In general, 21st-century humanity appears to be getting too used to evermore sonically balanced sounds. I can understand this with pop and even soul, but rock’n’roll needs to be unbalanced, unhinged and shot through with wayward decibels just to help us all get off.

Suitably unhinged and fabulous was the state funeral of George Best, who – in death – truly achieved the deification that he so deserved. Just seeing the long lines of people awaiting Best’s hearse in Belfast brought tears to my eyes. And when the TV clips of Best’s greatest moments were broadcast in rapid succession, the truth of his genius was so glaringly obvious that none of us can really complain that his time at the top was so brief. More strange, really, that such an extraordinarily wild and beautiful shaman ever existed in top-flight football. On a more personal note, I have to report the death of Isobel Smith, whose delightful book WINDMILL HILL & AVEBURY brought to life so much of Alexander Keiller’s excavations at Avebury back in the 1930s, and added so much to my own writing in THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN. I’d often glimpse Isobel sitting in her Avebury cottage near the church, but she always refused to speak to visitors however interested in her they were. Frustratingly, while her life spanned a vast age of changes (1912-2005), I always knew that I’d one day be writing this brief obituary without ever having spoken one word to her.

Returning briefly to DARK ORGASM, I should like to note that it is still one of the few albums of 2005CE whose lyrics specifically document the times in which we’re living. Now this is curious. One of the reasons I got into rock’n’roll was because much of it was the folk music of its day, and protest songs by The Fugs, The Mothers, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, etc. were signposts of their time. Moreover, much of the punk thing – informed by the Rastas’ obsession with 1977 and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – nailed the era lyrically to such an extent that much of what was recorded then sounded dated and anachronistic within a couple of years of its release (Patti Smith’s references to the MPLA, PLO and kidnap of heiress Patty Heart were mirrored over here by the whole debut LP by The Clash). But few current rock’n’roll artists write specifically about the times in which we are living. I’m not so much complaining about this as wishing to hear other artists’ views on these times of meteorological, political and religious overhaul. Even the current US underground scene – so colourful and musically dynamic – has (to my knowledge) no great lyricists providing useful (or even useless) comments about their post 9/11 world. Surely we need this kind of work to be forthcoming if the collective mental health of the culture is to stay focused. As a Muslim friend of mine reminded me at a party just before X-Mass, within his culture any discussion of Allah is proscribed, off limits, verboten, forget-about-it; which is precisely why we in the West have to explain to incomers that everything here is questioned, everything is suspect, everyone and everything is accountable – even the so-called Divine. If we are not seen to be exerting our freedoms, will we not one day lose them all? I well remember the effect of hearing “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols for the first time and being shocked that my hero Johnny Rotten was speaking so directly to me, and in such a seemingly reactionary manner. The Sex Pistols singing anti-abortion songs? As my then-girlfriend had just one month before aborted our potential child, I was truly taken aback by Rotten’s lyric and – though it did not change my mind – it certainly made me question what she and I had (quite casually) just allowed to take place.

Finally, at the beginning of this new year, let’s hope for some kind of peaceful end to the Iraq occupation, let’s unite against the rising waves of Anti-Feminism and Anti-Semitism, and let’s hope that the calamitous weather of last year is not to be repeated in ’06.

Love Fucking Peace, Brothers & Sisters,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)