6 Music, the BBC’s slightly left of centre radio channel, has been dedicating this weekend’s schedule to commemorating David Bowie. Long noted as a Bowie superfan (not a prophet or a stone age man), Adam Buxton has been back on the airwaves as part of the programming with this two hour ‘take on the great man’.

It’s well worth seeking out and giving some attention to, as it has many very funny bits in (Cobbler Bob…) and some intriguing lyrical exegesis from the late Dame David as well.

Bowie’s clarification of the intent behind Space Oddity – that Major Tom is not victim to mechanical failure, but deliberately cutting himself adrift – was a major (Tom) perspective shift for me. As happens from time to time, your world view can be altered by something you’d never considered. Purely on a ‘song itself’ basis, it’s such an important detail. The mournful ending is still there, it’s still sad, but for different reasons. In that light, of course, Ashes to Ashes holds even more resonance.

Anyway, as I write this I’m listening to Brian Eno recounting his and Bowie’s devotion to Derek and Clive during the recording of Low.


Derek Bowie… Of course! Suddenly it *all* makes sense.

About nearly 10 years ago, probably, I, the author of this piece, was editor of a zine called Thingy.

One of the reasons Thingy came grinding to a halt as a means of expression was because it seemed an inadequate and facile means to address the Great Problem of that time – “post-9/11”, the Coalition of the Willing’s attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, post-modern colonialism, post, and so on. Cutting and pasting pictures of bands, making sarcastic comments about Leonardo DiCaprio, just didn’t seem to have any sort of bearing on the intolerable wrongness of “Blair’s Britain”.

Maybe my perspective was just off. Actually, there were a couple of anti-war edition Thingys in 2003, but these were just brief pamphlets, really. Certainly, later zines never approached anything like the 50-odd page splurge of stoned readers’ digest for the pop-loving word hound that Thingy was in its rather uncomfortably worn pomp.

Another reason Thingy came grinding to a halt was an unfinished, and unfinishable, somewhat tendentious, article regarding Franz Ferdinand. In an almost – nay! actual – comical fashion, after Alvy Singer in Annie Hall, unable to come to terms with the Warren Commission, I could not understand or accept the band’s massive success.


How I hated them! Blast! Their ubiquity, their absurd self-reflexivity, their paint-by-numbers scenemusic and annoying use of German!

My reactionary flailing at their unfathomable triumph led to a series of closely-read, reworked and increasingly ill-tempered versions of an anti-Franz Ferdinand diatribe, each pouring distaste upon disgust upon dislike to form an EU lake of surplus bile and semi-digested ranting.

One particularly splenetic draft ran to 270,000 words and, in a parallel dimension, has become the seminal text of an all-controlling crypto fascist cabal, at war with this world for allowing the four horse students of the Franz Ferdinand apocalypse to have rent the cawl and grown to wreak their pop-funk-punk atrocities upon the populace of the multiverse.

“Bring me four pairs of handcuffs, a teleportation device, a laser scalpel… and a raspberry Danish.”

Of course, I got over it. I recognised eventually that, in fact, it was not them, it was me. I was not in love with pop music any more. Well, not the radio, pop industrial, chart show thing I had grown up with and adored. I had lost my faith, simply: that moment kneeling at the altar when you realise it’s also just some bits of wood and a guy mumbling.

I’ve kind of got my poplove back, a bit, but you can imagine my untrammelled joy, I am sure, on hearing that after a not-lengthy-enough hiatus Franz are back – BACK! – with a New Single. ‘Right Action’ is enjoying endless and apparently compulsory rotation on BBC 6 Music, who today have even accorded them “Album of the Day Plus!” status, as if “Album of the Day” was not sufficient an accolade.

‘Right Action’ continues the band’s remorseless exploration of contrivance.

‘Right Thoughts
Right Wor-ords
Right Action!’

With a boingy bass line. Where to even continue? It sounds like the theme to a semi-educational programme for kids, one where the presenter will later turn out to have roundly abused his position and a succession of teenage girls. Designed to fit breakfast shows – Good morning! – Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, and anywhere else it can be shoehorned in before it’s used to advertise mobile phones, while wafting at a higher spiritual truth several bubillion miles from being approached, ‘Right shower Action’ is an awful set of checked boxes, none of them mine.

I mean, I wouldn’t mind if they were making cock-twangling, panty moistening POP I could hate-but-love for its insouciance, its casual throwaway joy, but they’re not. They’re making horrid, gloopy, ‘Would you like to see, and buy, some puppies?’ jingles. Waitrose rock.

It is a cacaphony – a shitracket – in every sense of the term racket – catchy as Hep C, and as welcome. The only thing to have momentarily dislodged the viral annoyance from my brain has been writing this bollocks.

Do we owe them a living? Of course we fucking don’t.

Listening to 6Music this morning, the news came on at 07.30 and the first item was a summary of this piece’ about the devastating impact of Afghanistan’s opium monopoly (it says here an astonishing 92% of global production), despite (discuss) the best efforts of coalition troops in the region.

I am glad to note that my license fee is funding some sort of bitter ironist in an editorial role at the Beeb, because that news item was followed by the announcement that Dame Vera Lynn and others were launching the British Legion’s 2009 Poppy Appeal.