Saturday, December 8, 2018

Goodbye Pete Shelley.

The death of Pete Shelley is hitting me really hard. That's largely because the Buzzcocks were a band that I followed from a young age, my favoite punk rock band. Given that, their songs serve as a powerful memory trigger for me.

The Buzzcocks were one of the last great singles bands. Following in the footsteps of bands like The Who, The Move, and--what the hell--The Beatles, they turned the craft of making a three minute pop record into an art form. I can vividly recall the thrill of racing up to Telegraph Avenue to buy the latest Buzzcocks single and returning home to hear such small masterpieces as "Promises", "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" and "Are Everything" for the first time.

And then there is also what we've lost with the passing of Pete Shelley. As a songwriter, the man was nothing short of a visionary. By merging punk and pop, he imagined a future for both genres: A pop that was edgy and emotionally honest and a punk that made room for romanticism and  sensitivity. And though this lays at his doorstep the blame for such dubious phenomena as Emo and Blink 182's sterile punk pop, it also credits him with setting the stage for more important artists, like The Smiths (it's hard to imagine Morrisey not having a well-worn copy of Singles Going Steady in his collection.)

That it was Shelley's heart--so often broken, trampled upon and scorned, if his songs are to believed--that finally gave out, is too poetic to bear. Perhaps it's true that a world as callous, violent, and in thrall of idiocy as ours, is undeserving of a soul as beautiful as his.

"There is no love in this world anymore," sang Shelley in "I Believe." I would like to believe that that isn't true, but right now I'm having kind of a hard time doing that.