Monday, June 25, 2007

I always cry at endings

It’s not so true now, but there was a time when it seemed that every third article at Tangents was about Vic Godard…

I’d got this far into reviewing Saturday’s Vic Godard gig when I decided to have a look back at some of these old articles. They’d have been from around the time I started reading Tangents (2000? 2001?), which back then had a fiercely narrow focus: Vic, Orange Juice and Felt were the centre of the universe, and the website was bent on re-interpreting more modern Pop on those terms. I’d loved Felt since school, when Tim lent me the ultra-enigmatic Forever Breathes The Lonely Word tape – they were one of the very few reasons I was proud to come from the West Midlands. It was funny how Tim seemed to pre-empt Tangents like that. He also gave me Clientele and Animals That Swim tapes, way back. Orange Juice are one of my all time obsessions, and one of many reasons I’m proud to very nearly have come from Glasgow. I still can’t believe Edywn’s more famous for A Girl Like You than for You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, possibly the most under-rated LP in the history of Pop. And I swear, I’d long thought of Pop as having a capital P, even then, but Alistair nailed the idea so definitively both on the site and in his book Young and Foolish (that, at least, is still available) that when I started writing for Tangents a few years later I steered clear of the territory.

So, this was supposed to be a review of Vic playing a sports club in Glasgow for Tangents (Vic was new to me in 2000, but I fell in line fast, he was so obviously great), and I was – as you can see – already intending to reminisce a little about how the site has changed. But it got there before me, and is gone. There’s a note explaining why: ‘There are many kinds of freedom, but at the moment the freedom that I yearn for most is the freedom from expectation.’ I can understand that. I think it was Woebot who said recently that for a time his site had been a process of cherry-picking his favourite records to write about, but at a certain point he caught up and instead it became a document of the ‘research’ (I think he called it that, can’t find the entry) he was doing at any given moment. Which can also make for essential reading, but it must be harder, flying by the seat of your pants. And in a world in which nobody ever seems to anything but fly by the seat of their pants (I really don’t know how Momus keeps it – by which I mean Click Opera – up), I suppose that can get to seem dangerously conventional. Again Quentin Crisp’s phrase, that personal style involves ‘swimming with the tide, but faster’ seems to fit here. That’s what Momus does. That’s what Alistair has done, too, for so long (how does he listen to that many records? Aren’t teachers insanely busy as it is?) But he has done it at a tangent, across the current. It’s Lawrence Hayward’s own course: the bright loveliness of much of Felt’s output, and the proud awareness that it didn’t fit the times, that ‘we might as well stay in our rooms until we die’, because our rooms, with their Pop artefacts, are more than the world outside can ever live up to. I know that John Carney will continue to make this point vigorously at what is now a site in its own right, Shivers Inside.

I’ll miss Tangents a lot, and I’ll also miss writing for it. For the meantime I’ll put what I would have put there, here. The Vic review will follow. It’s perhaps time this became a real blog, not just a catalogue of the books I’m reading. Something to be read, not just to be written.

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