Though The Fall’s Mark E. Smith recently made the papers over a nasty bit of squirrel-killing, his long awaited autobiography, ‘Renegade : The Lives and Tales Of Mark E. Smith’ (Viking) might rank as, well, the most impressive music-related tome since Ronald Thomas Clonte’s ‘Rock, Rot Or Rule?’. The Guardian has been running excerpts all week, and here’s some of the snappier Smith observations from Tuesday’s edition :
Pop lyrics today
What gets me is the lack of lyrical effort shown by bands nowadays. Me and the wife use that thing on the telly with the subtitles to read some of the lyrics. Jesus Christ! “I’m going up the hill, you’re going to leave me, I’m going to leave you, why did you leave me?” It’s pathetic: all meek and self-absorbed. I’m just not interested in hearing about some lad’s break-up with some college girl.
Lads today are a bit too open like this anyway: going to the doctor’s every five minutes telling them how depressed and distanced they feel. I think it’s because they’ve got too much time and space to think about themselves. You don’t get lads like that in Russia. It’s not part of the culture there. It’s a uniform, if you ask me: an identity. You can hear the whingeing in their music. It’s stale. They should stop hiding away in their bedrooms with their computers and get out a bit.
We never depended on John Peel for our livelihood. I don’t put my career down to him. I had an argument with Marc Riley about this on a train. We were shouting at each other, like some daft couple. He was saying, “We’ve done two John Peel sessions, and isn’t it great?” And I’m saying, “So what? It’s only the BBC. We’re not a fucking rock band.”
The idea was that you did John Peel, then progressed on to the seven-till-nine slot and so on. We never went that far from Peel, and ultimately that was a limitation for us. You become known as a “Peel group”.
Still, I liked the fact that Peely wasn’t a Manchester United fan – that he supported a decent team like Liverpool.
I like that quote from Jeffrey Bernard about Jimmy White – “He looks like a man who has seen trouble.” You can’t say that about lads nowadays, about Beckham and Lampard. They look like they’ve just got ready for bed after polishing off their mam’s supper on a Sunday night.
Sacking Marc Riley
I sacked Marc Riley on his wedding day! I didn’t know he’d just got secretly wed. I said to Kay Carroll, who used to manage the group, “We’ve got to ring him, we’ve got to get rid of him,” because he was getting out of hand: wanting to do Totally Wired twice a night, playing Container Drivers with his cowboy hat on and all that kind of thing. Even Kay was a bottler – she got all nervous on the phone. She’s like, “Marc, I’ve got something to say to you …”, not getting to the point. So I said, “Give me the phone” and he says, “Mark, how did you find out?” and I go, “What?”
“I only wanted a private wedding. I got wed today.” Of course, I thought, “Why didn’t you invite me, then, you cunt?” And I say, “Congratulations, mate. And by the way, you’re sacked.” So you can see why he’s a bit scarred.