Raw Honesty From Man They Call Modfather
Paul Weller still has a fire burning in his belly, decades after his ballads woke up two nations, says Barry Egan
Sunday November 14, 2010
‘PUT an end to all your doubts,” he sings. “Has my fire really gone out?”
Profligate with the raw honesty, council estate balladeer Paul Weller still has a fire burning in his 52-year-old belly. At times he comes across like the gruff Victor Meldrew of his era — with one Gucci brogue in the grave. But there’s a universality to the Modfather’s lyrics that resonates with just about everyone over 18 who realises Jedward are perhaps not the future. Weller has the real ‘x factor’. In all in his four decades writing great moments of music, he has never erected a protective screen between his emotions and the listener.
Songs like Town Called Malice, That’s Entertainment, My Ever Changing Moods, A Man of Great Promise, Changing Man, You Do Something to Me, Pebbles on a Beach , Out of the Sinking and Has My Fire Really Gone Out? mark Weller down as one of the greatest English songwriters since John Lennon, Ray Davies or Pete Townshend. He has inspired Blur, Oasis, the Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse and a million other young bands with dodgy, ironed-straight coiffures.
As a reporter in The Observer wrote recently: “Everyone knows Weller. He’s a pop music constant, with his undying stylishness, his unfading anger, his never-ending devotion to what he deems “proper” music. And yet his career has seen him flicker in and out of favour, mostly through his own wilful refusal to dig the same musical furrow.” This is the young Surrey lad, lest we forget, who broke up Britain’s most popular band The Jam to form a jazz-soul combo called The Style Council.
We still love the fact that all those years on from when he wrote Town Called Malice he has never lost his anger. He lashed David Cameron when he said he was a huge fan of Eton Rifles by Weller’s old band The Jam. He turned down a CBE and refused to let New Labour use The Changing Man as a campaign tune in 1997. His new album Wake Up the Nation is his most intriguing record in years — almost as intriguing and innovative as its predecessor, 22 Dreams, released in 2008.
Wake Up the Nation has Weller, like King Canute, trying to hold back the wave of modernity. He lashes the Facebook nations, instructing everyone to get their face off Facebook and get on to the streets. He is a god to many and as such I am surprised that he is playing only five nights at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin this week.