Monday, 3 December 2012

The Young Mod's Forgotten Story Part Four: Beat Surrender

My 'retained' ticket - note crap seat
It’s a cold December night thirty years ago. The tube to Wembley Park is packed. A load of mods and a fair few bemused and slightly edgy looking commuters. Especially when a ‘We are the mods’ chant goes up. Works its way down the carriage. There’s a bunch of us tonight, met up at Charing Cross.
Let’s get this straight, I’m more than pissed off. Since the news broke at the end of October and I bought my ticket – that oh so precious ticket – tonight’s left me with mixed feelings. I had a couple of large ones in the Maxwell before catching the train. So The Jam are splitting up. That’s it, end of. Weller released a cobbled together statement, a ‘personal goodbye’. It hardly seems enough to cover what this feels like. It’s been personal. A code to live by, a band taking your life and putting it into words and music.
Tonight feels like I’m about to lose something important, and somehow there’s a sense of knowing I won’t get it back.
At the end of this year the Jam will officially be splitting up, as I feel we have achieved all we can together as a group. I mean this both musically and commercially. I want all we achieved to count for something and most of all I’d hate for us to end up old and embarrassing like so many other groups do. The longer a group continues, the more frightening the thought of it ever ending becomes – that’s why so many of them carry on until they become meaningless. I’ve never wanted the Jam to get to this stage.
What we (and you) have built up has meant something, for me it stands for honesty, passion and energy and youth. I want it to stay that way and maybe exist as a guideline for new young groups coming up to improve and expand on. This would make it even more worthwhile.
I have written this as a direct contact with you and so you hear it from us first. But also to say thank you for all the faith you have shown in us and the building of such a strong force and feeling that all three of us have felt and been touched by.
Here’s to the future,
In love and friendship.
Paul Weller (Oct. 1982)
NME - November 1982
I can’t honestly say I remember much about the gig. There are snapshots: Stuart Adamson’s Big Country supporting: The Jam coming on: Strange Town: trying to get closer to the front: falling out with and losing my girlfriend and mates in the crowd somewhere: the end: walking back to the tube, cold, empty: eventually making my own way home.
A few days later some of my mates went down to Brighton for the last gig. I thought about it, but had some bridges to build and I didn't fancy going through the whole thing again. Turned out to be a smart move.
Thirty years on. Well, for the record I sorted it out with my girlfriend – a Beatles-themed ‘We Can Work it Out’ sorry I was an idiot card a few days later. But I was right about one thing, something did go when The Jam split up. I suppose I grew up a bit. There were no more dashes down to Our Price or Smiths or The Spinning Disc for the new single or the new album. No more obsessively collecting magazines and bootlegs. Top of the Pops became marginally less exciting. A lot more geezers in make-up and Dorothy Perkins blouses.
But the truth is, I’ve never stopped listening to The Jam - I'm listening now as I write this. I read that statement again and realise Weller was never more on the money than when he made that decision. I want all we’ve achieved to count for something. It did. It does. All the more so for never giving into reunions and million quid comebacks. Sometimes you need to know when to walk away and with all the Abbey Road specials, BBC4 Weller nights, re-issues and Gift retrospectives, there’s a few perfect moments –  memories that hold tight to that sense of honesty and integrity that The Jam seemed to stand for. I took what I could, then moved on.

Days of speed and slow time Mondays -
Pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday -
Watching the news and not eating your tea -
A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls -

that's entertainment.


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