Friday, June 26, 2009
Steven Wells 1960 - 2009
I once met Steven Wells.
I was working at the HMV record store in London's Victoria Station. I only had a vague idea what he looked like, so didn't recognise him until I read the name on the bank card he handed me for payment. S. Wells it read, in an almost childlike writing. Having the aforementioned vague idea - that and the card. 2 + 2 and all that, I quickly realized who was standing before me.
Steven fucking Wells!
Emperor of the exclamation mark!!! THE CAPS LOCK KING! EVERY EDITOR'S NIGHTMARE!!! A serial poker of my funny bone, the guy who invented new ways to use language - how to get away from the constraints of grammar, spelling and good taste... Typing With Tourette's! Before me stood Hunter S. Thompson's and Lester Bangs' bastard love child!
Standing there (my heart already beating faster, the way it does when I'm nervous to meet/talk to someone) in my dumbass HMV shirt, I somehow managed to utter "I love your writing" (pretty impressive, right?), for which he actually thanked me and said that I had "made his day". Knowing his, ahem, reputation, I never was sure if he actually meant it or if he was just being, you know, Swells, though to be honest either was fine by me.
So Swells might gone, but one of the beautiful things about writing is that it's a contagious fucker. Once it gets you, you're stuck with it. You can repress some of it, or at least try to, but little bits are going to crawl on up to the surface now and again anyway. Steven, you were truly an inspiration and I'm sure we'll continue to see you here and there, crawling up in books, magazines, newspapers and conversations.
As for all the reverential shit that's bound to follow now that he's gone, I'm sure he would have hated every bit of it. So instead of Pachelbel, how about playing Daphne & Celeste at his funeral? Lady Gaga maybe. And are The Fall busy? Can someone get hold of Mark E. Smith? I'm sure he would have appreciated it.
I suppose I should try and describe him here. Something about his writing. Analyse it. But surely that would be like trying to gift wrap thunder, a moving train. It'd be a waste of time. Just go check out some of his writing. Maybe drink a couple beers. Pick up a pen...
Steven, you'll be missed.
Here are a few songs I think you might have liked, loathed or loved:
Plastic Bertrand - Ca Plane Pour Moi
Atari Teenage Riot - Destroy 2000 years of culture
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Princess Superstar - Bad Babysitter
The Fall - Big New Prinz
Les Savy Fav - Meet Me in the Dollar Bin