TO SIR, WITH LOVEJanuary 7, 2022
Sidney Poitier, RIP.
Sidney Poitier, RIP.
'I dream of moor, and misty hill
Where evening gathers, dark and chill
What has 2022 worth revealing?'
rebels without applause …
photographs by Tina Dehghani
(August 1943 - December 2021)
"Oh, death … the only conclusion. It always wins. And now, Wanda Young, whose yearning-for-what-cannot-be voice excited me at 9 years old, and even still, now, at 89 years. Along with Gladys Horton, the almost punishing excitement of the Marvelettes was so dramatic that even the hairstyles began to overact. I still listen whenever I want back the music of before. In one of my first ever radio interviews I requested "Strange, I Know" by the Marvelettes - a foreign language back then. All of their singles were signals
… "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game", "Anything You Wanna Do", "He's A Good Guy, Yes He Is", "I Think I Can Change You", "Marionette", "Beechwood 4-5789", "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" - curses more than songs, often. The voices of great singers say 'listen to me' before you even grasp their lyrics, and Wanda Young was there with Levi Stubbs, as godly as you could ever hope
for. It should cost something to sing, and this is why most 2021 pop music resembles Soviet Union state authorized entertainment. The Marvelettes were a part of those who came before, but don't overlook them because of that. Shadowed, of course, by the
Supremes, and even by the fashionable pessimism of the Crystals, being 'a girl group' could imply either not a real group, or somehow less than. Nobody called the Stones 'a boy band'. Today, no radio stations play the songs of the Marvelettes despite their enormous success (bigger than the Kinks, wouldn't you know), even though any investigation of their music proves that the magic never ends. "Paper Boy" is directly 'in your face, man'. They deserve your love because they came from a long-gone era when the waiting-to-buy was just as exciting as the actual purchase. Wanda, I'll mith you."
MORRISSEY, 27 December 2021.
“We are all such hopeless creatures, aren’t we? We must wait until someone dies in order to tell them how much we loved them. Am I even writing this, now, about the death of Janice Long? Gone, as everyone in the UK now seems to, after ‘a short illness’. What IS a short illness? Interpret as you will…
Janice was immediately in my life during the days of Rough Trade Records … all those tears ago. I would sit very still waiting for “Hand In Glove” to be played on her radio show - and it always was. Suddenly I was a someone. Janice remained loyal to me, even allowing radio sessions during barren times when I was considered far too exciting to be signed by a record label. Such things didn’t matter to Janice. Decades later, when thinking became banned in the UK, Janice invited me onto her show … letting me know that I was valued, letting me know that the press vendetta against me hadn’t fooled those who really count in the end. In what might be termed her heyday, Janice - along with John Walters - had an energy that chased music; Janice turned up everywhere, never defeated, helping the newly-signed, she would drive 250 miles to see a band … never losing the necessity of immediate action, yet all the credit for nighttime music mysteriously went to John Peel.
Janice was also the first female to present ‘Top of the Pops’, and as young and lively as she was, she wanted legitimate association with quality music - not with sexuality. She was not a costume. Her will was determined, and even on the few occasions that she criticized me I knew she was right, and nothing could dent our friendship. It was difficult back then (and impossible now) to present individuality in pop music. In modern times, no one will risk being honest. Inevitably militant ageist manifestos reduced Janice from her reverential Radio 2 slot, a position that she alone had built brick by brick, but … she had achieved her intentions … she had done the impossible very, very well … and her career, now closed, is a lifetime of gains without losses, and she didn’t ever once belabor the price of being female in a world that was for a long time sewn-together by and for men. She proved what could be done. She took risks by playing independent music during the years when independent music was refused access to daytime radio. Janice gave airtime to such as Ludus and Raymonde, and even played all six minutes of the Dolls’ ‘Frankenstein’ uninterrupted. Even modern DJs dare not risk such imagination.
The choking sorrow at the announcement of someone’s death is full equation of their success. Only then do we say what would be a queasy revelation during the person’s lifetime. How can love be talked about? It can’t. Possibly the only time Janice went on a gym treadmill she found herself jogging alongside Peter Wyngarde. I laughed for hours trying to conjour up such a picture. She then said:
“and then Ray Davies walked in carrying a plastic shopping-bag.” My head hurt.
Even if, at age 66, Janice would be termed ‘the older generation’, it must be remembered that a great deal is lost in the passing of that generation. Memory is our strength. Thank you, Janice. Your soul is liberated from this increasingly ridiculous world.”
MORRISSEY, 26 December 2021.