This Is Not A Love Song – Public Image Ltd

It’s time to break the curse, lest we get stuck like the needle on my vinyl copy of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again. We’d be looping over the same two words again and again and again and again (true story). So to be clear. This.

This is this. This ain’t something else (spot the movie quote win a prize*)

This. Is Not. A Love. Song. Of course it’s not. The best advice that I’ve ever gotten came from that dear old Johnny Rotten. He’s Rotten no more. This was John Lydon in a serious band. A band that pushed music forward. PiL. Or Public Image Ltd. Did so much for the 1980’s and it’s progressive leaps in music. Sure punk and to a degree The Sex Pistols kicked the doors open but it was PiL who broadened the horizons of pop by mixing, synths, dub, rap, rock and new wave into something that would not sit down and behave the way The Biz wanted it to.

“Happy to have, not to have not, big business is very wise, I’m crossing over into, E-enter-prize”

Remember, these lyrics are 40 years old at this stage. E- Enterprise back then was just a F-F-Fade Away from The Ooh and their stuttering Modern Lovers meets The Kingsmen playing about with the rules. We know Johnny was a fan. It was he who sang Roadrunner in his audition for his old band. After Public Image: First Issue the debut album came the seminal Metal Box and the audience splitting Flowers Of Romance (named after a project that predated yer Pistols). Three albums in and nary a transcontinental hit single among them. The top ten had eluded them in the UK since the debut single too.

“I’m going over to the other side, I’m happy to have not to have not, big business is very wise, I’m inside free enterprise”

I mean he’s not kidding. This is not a love song. In any way. It’s about cold hard commerce. It’s about survival and it’s about the times it was written in. The 1980’s were the tipping point where morality was finally bought out by ambition once and for all. What Thatcher, Reagan and the world banks did to us and our perception of right and wrong we will only have reconciled once the sky is fully burned black and Joni’s Tree Museum is closed down due to gentrification.

“I’m adaptable and I like my new role, I’m getting better and better and I have a new goal, I’m changing my ways where money applies”

Sorry if that last paragraph was a little too cynical. At my core I know we’re fiddling while Rome burns. We’re arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and we’re mocking the Johnny’s, the Cassandra’s and the Greta’s who are telling us obvious and apparent truths to our faces. All the while we drive diesel powered four by fours to drive thru diners for GMO burgers grown in giant laboratories. The juggernaut is unstoppable.

We do still have art though. We can philosophize until the cows go mad. We can live and we can love. That’s all we have that matters. John Lydon may have gone a little round the bend with is own clairvoyance of what is to come and what never should be, but he made some brilliant records along the way. PiL’s fourth album This is What You Want… This Is What You Get gifted the world this big denial of love made song and the lesser known second single Bad Life. So intuitively in step with the era and the changes afoot was John that he titled the next long player simply Album.

“Now are you ready to grab the cradle, that tunnel vision-not television behind the curtain-out of the cupboard, You take the first train-into the big world, Now will I find you-now will you be there”

So there we are, spell broken. Love is love. But not today.

*Well, It’s not really a prize, just my undying respect.


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