John Peel – A Memory

Today marks the sixth anniversary of John Peel’s untimely passing away.

I’d guess the increased Cowell-ification of the charts in that time would have John spinning in his grave – possibly at the wrong speed – but I wanted to c&v part of a previous blog post originally about 6 Music:

“Do you remember the band Bennet?

No, of course not. You’re all young hip cats who’s worlds are made up of iPods and MP3s and have no truck with obscure Britpop bands from the mid-to-late nineties.

If you do remember them, you may recall their minor hit “Mum’s Gone To Iceland”. Not their finest hour.

But “Someone Always Gets There First” WAS their finest hour. I heard it on a Peel Session many years ago and I instantly fell in love. As a doomed romantic, it spoke to me.  In these days before the internet, I managed to track down a copy and order it from a local record store.

That song is a stone cold Dave’s Desert Island Disc. It’s made me smile, shake my booty and – in all honesty – it’s got me through some tough times. Hell, it was the first track on a mixtape that I made for the Better Half for reasons too complicated to go into here.

I’ve never heard it on the radio before or since that John Peel broadcast. If I’d not been sat by my radio for precisely those three minutes, my life would not have been enriched by that power-pop number in the way that it has been.”

And that, in a badly written nutshell, is what made John Peel great for me.

Thanks John.

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The Ghost of John Peel

Did you know that – at one point – the most used phrase on the interweb was “Music was my first love and it will be my last”?

Well, those bits of the interweb that weren’t porn and pictures of cats. The most used phrase – for both of those – was “Pussies will be my first love and they will be my last”.

Did you see what I did there? Thank you. I’m here all week.

Those non-porn/non-cat bits of the interweb are once again chattering about music after Mark Thompson’s announcement that the BBC are looking to close down the digital stations 6Music and the Asian Network.

Now, I’m not an avid listener of either. The one digital radio in the house is in the kitchen and the kids’ choice of music normally wins out. Five year old Kid A is currently going through a Leo Sayer and La Roux phase and three year old Kid B is exclusively a latter era Beatles fan. Try as  I might, I can’t get them into Public Enemy.

When I have time, I’ve dipped into the Saturday morning broadcasts and the awesome Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone, but – for once – this isn’t about me.

People are talking about how 6Music continues John Peel’s legacy and I – for one – believe this to be A Good Thing.

I listened to John Peel in my youth for the very reason that people listen to 6 Music now. For the variety, the musical knowledge and the idea that something you’d never heard before was just around the corner.

Example:

Do you remember the band Bennet?

No, of course not. You’re all young hip cats who’s worlds are made up of iPods and MP3s and have no truck with obscure Britpop bands from the mid-to-late nineties.

If you do remember them, you may recall their minor hit “Mum’s Gone To Iceland”. Not their finest hour.

But “Someone Always Gets There First” WAS their finest hour. I heard it on a Peel Session many years ago and I instantly fell in love. As a doomed romantic, it spoke to me.  In these days before the internet, I managed to track down a copy and order it from a local record store.

That song is a stone cold Dave’s Desert Island Disc. It’s made me smile, shake my booty and – in all honesty – it’s got me through some tough times. Hell, it was the first track on a mixtape that I made for the Better Half for reasons too complicated to go into here.

I’ve never heard it on the radio before or since that John Peel broadcast. If I’d not been sat by my radio for precisely those three minutes, my life would not have been enriched by that jaunty power-pop number in the way that it has been.

The BBC was formed to “inform, educate and entertain” and to remove 6Music and the Asian Network from the scheduling would be a blow to all three of those ideals. I wonder how many people would be deprived of their own Bennet moment if they were gone and that makes me sad.

So, if you’re still – in spirit – that teenager hiding under the covers listening to the radio why not drop the BBC Trust a line at trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk and tell them what you think?

That’s my tuppence-worth. I’ll be quiet now.

P.S. If the worst comes to the worst, I’m willing to adopt Lauren Laverne.