Wave, Wave Goodbye

A lot of people think of the media as a kind of exclusive, limited club, to which outsiders have little or no chance of entry. I have some differences with that view.

However, this week my roving satirical eye alighted on former NME journalist Nick Kent, who recently published an autobiography. From John Crace’s digest it sounds like the usual roster of 1970s big names and disputed anecdotes, capped off with the obligatory rehab spell and religious conversion. Julie Burchill was at the magazine at the same time as Kent and has duly torn him apart.

It really does puzzle me that people are still interested in these guys. Only a media conspiracy can explain it. Step forward, Tony Parsons, writer of pisspoor elegies to punk rock (an empty bourgois pursuit for posturing morons) turned author of equally pisspoor middle-youth novels and semi-literate nastiness for the Murdoch press. Julie Burchill can still write well if she wants to, but she too is sliding into irrelevance. And this all came from music journalism. This is Parsons on the NME:

Parsons describes his time there as ‘wild’ and says it was a job that many young men would have loved. ‘It was like doing your National Service,’ says Parsons. ‘You were there for a few years, they took the boy and turned you into a man—and then kicked you back into the real world where no one was interested in you and no one had ever heard of you.’

Only in England could music journalism be elevated to cultural mythology. You would think the guy was talking about Rolling Stone. Only Rolling Stone had and still has great writers, who weren’t afraid to take on the world beyond rock legend.

The cliche is true, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. I can think of one music journalist who could write – Simon Price – and I’m sure he worked for Melody Maker. The NME itself was always an overblown student paper, it’s being fucked by the shift to online content and download culture, and no one will miss it when it’s gone. The Parsonses and Burchills of future generations will have nowhere to make their names. Good.


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