So this is permanence



so this is permancenc

This is a superbly presented book containing the personal writings of one of the most influential songwriters and performers of the late 20th Century – Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.

So this is permanence is a collection put together by Jon Savage and Deborah Curtis from Ian’s surviving lyrics, notes, fan mail, fanzines and book covers from his personal library. As a huge Joy Division fan and an admirer of great lyricists, I could not wait to get my hands on it.

In the late 1970s, Manchester was an industrial city in decline. During this time, Ian Curtis isolated himself with his books and his writing. His songs were groundbreaking and his band became the iconic sound of that time. All the product of the scribbled on office paper he used to carry around in a plastic bag.


In my opinion, his lyrics presented here don’t just reflect his personal struggles with depression, epilepsy and stage-fright, but are also proof of how influenced he was by literature. He read widely from Holocaust fiction to Oscar Wilde.

“The words are untouchable, unreachable, perfect, unsettling, unique, beautiful. They are poetry but I want to claim them for rock.” (Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers)

“When Ian found his direction, the notebooks, the scraps of paper, the plastic carrier bag became and extension of his body…his lyrics tell much more than a conversation with him ever could.”                  (Deborah Curtis, wife) Continue reading

A Taste of Morrissey


As you may have already sensed from this blog, I am a huge Morrissey fan. It was the legendary singer and a recent trip to The Lowry giftshop in Manchester that finally led me to buying and reading this highly acclaimed play.

Morrissey famously once said; “I’ve never made any secret of the fact that at least 50 per cent of my reason for writing can be blamed on Shelagh Delaney.” Set in the ‘today’ of her northern, industrial Salford you can see why A Taste of Honey appeals so greatly to him. Delaney was a solo female voice in a wave of 1950s gritty British writing as Morrissey (in my opinion) has often been the only voice in contemporary gritty British song-writing.

A Taste of Honey was Shelagh Delaney’s first play and one that she is most remembered for. It received huge critical and commercial success at the time which led to the 1961 film adaptation scripted by Delaney herself.

The play is a poignant and simple story about teenage Jo, and the fiery relationship she has with her irresponsible mother, Helen. Jo becomes pregnant by a Nigerian sailor who soon leaves her. Gay art student Geoffrey moves in to help Jo with the baby after Helen runs off with her latest fancy-man. Jo remains resilient and optimistic throughout their grim existence in her shabby Salford lodgings.

It was the first play to feature a black man and gay man and became regarded as ahead of its time due its progressive understanding of social and sexual outsiders. Ahead of and of its time it maybe, but that does nothing to diminish its dialogue and themes as a great read for here and now. The exchanges between Jo and Helen are sharp, witty, cruel and equally peppered with dramatic revelations and the stuff of everyday grind.

I loved it. I found it funny and tragic and at turns a harrowing reminder of how times and attitudes have changed.

More on A Taste of Honey’s influence on Morrissey and The Smiths

Shelagh Delaney was the cover star of The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs and Girlfriend in a Coma. This, her most congratulated play and one that he has boasted he can recite word-for-word, was “a massive influence” on Morrissey and his lyrics as you’ll see from the lines below; Continue reading

Mac the Mouth in his own words

Ian McCulloch

Ian McCulloch is one of indie pop’s finest singers. In the late seventies and throughout the eighties and late nineties, his band Echo and The Bunnymen were critically acclaimed and hugely popular with audiences. Albums like Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here still regularly appear in classic album lists and on my own turntable!

Here in this gorgeously presented book, McCulloch’s lyrics from his Bunnymen and solo material are laid out for us to savour every word.

Ian Mcculloch young

Themes of losing hope and love, fear of the future, being broken hearted, seeing the world in a different way from others and questioning our purpose here are common in popular music and feature heavily throughout his work. Not many write as especially well as McCulloch and when those words are then expressed through his creamy rich Liverpudlian croon, it can only make for fantastic songs.

Here are some of my favourite lyrics from the book: Continue reading

The noise of sorrow itself



The lyrics in this beautiful book span the entire career of singer, musician and author Nick Cave. From The Birthday Party to the Bad Seeds, Grinderman to film scores, every example of his dark gothic writing is collected and presented here.

Cave’s lyrics are often described as challenging, covering themes like murder, God, sex and death. His songs are commonly biblical and violent. However, he is also one of music’s greatest love song writers. Indeed the book opens with a transcription of a lecture that he delivered at the 1998 Vienna Poetry Festival entitled The Secret Life of the Love Song.

“I believe the love song to be a sad song,” he says. “It is the noise of sorrow itself.”

Nick Cave began writing songs following the death of his father. Aged 20 he started to read the Bible and began drawing on “the brutal prose” of the Old Testament for his songwriting. He became especially inspired by the Psalms, which he says “became the blueprint for my more sadistic love songs.”


The Southsea Bookworm has long been a fan of Nick Cave particularly his work with the Bad Seeds so I found this book to be an absolute treat.

MY TOP 10 NICK CAVE SONGS: Continue reading