Chimes, sing Sunday morn,
Today’s the day she’s sworn,
To steal what she never could own
And race from this hole she calls home
Interviewer: What’s the best thing that anyone has ever said about the band then?
a long, deafening, silence
Ian Brown: John?
John Squire: Ian.
another terrifyingly awkward silence
Ian Brown: Dunno.
John Squire: We’re not that interested in the band really, to tell you the truth.
(The Stone Roses, 1989)
“Listen to this” said Dave as I walked into his bedroom in Kinghorn.
He went straight to his stereo and pushed play on the tape deck.
He had already set the tape at the start of the third track on the album.
He played it so loud that his mum came through and told him to turn it down.
When it finished he stopped the tape and looked at me from behind his blonde, floppy, fringe.
I didn’t know what to say.
He just kept looking at me.
“Play it again” I said.
With a level of intuition I could never master he pressed rewind and stopped the tape right at the start of the song.
It was almost as if he had memorised exactly how long it took to do it.
I found out later that he had.
Over and over again he had hit play, stop, rewind, stop, play.
I hadn’t heard anything the first time he played it…I was lost in it.
The second time I heard sunshine and hope.
I felt something too.
I felt like anything was possible.
That the dreams I had were all within touching distance.
The Stone Roses were not a new band, they had already released a handful of singles, played endless gigs across the North West in particular, built up a loyal, some might say rabid, fan base, developed a look and honed their sound before the first single from their eponymous debut album dropped.
I didn’t know any of that when I walked into that bedroom in Kinghorn. A bedroom decorated with posters and postcards of the cream of the indie crop…bands so obscure that the members didn’t even know they existed. Dave was always ahead of the crowd when it came to this sort of stuff. He wasn’t the cool kid at school…but he was cool. We just didn’t realise it at the time.
We listened to the whole album that night.
First to listen and the second time to make a copy for me on a blank tape.
I had brought my Walkman with me and I listened to the album as I walked to the bus stop to catch the last bus to Kirkcaldy…the hole I called home…and I kept listening as the bus wound its way along the road…I was still listening as I walked from the bus station behind the Postings shopping centre to my house.
I listened as I lay in bed that night too.
And on the way to school the next day.
Interviewer: Has anyone ever said anything about the band that really, really hurt?
Ian Brown: That we’re influenced by the sixties. Keeps me awake at night.
“The Stone Roses” isn’t a sixties album.
It’s difficult to see how anyone thought it was.
Guitars and melodies?
It’s not in the music.
It’s like those lazy Beatles comments people make when they talk about Oasis.
It’s psychedelic, it’s hazy, lazy Sunday afternoons, strident, powerful, delicate, fey, beautiful…but it’s not Herman’s Hermits or The Droning Bones or The Kinks.
What it really is, is the sound of the present…informed by the past, maybe…but also the sound of the future. A rejection of nostalgia, a manifesto for a new generation.
At that moment in time I thought they might be the last band in the story of pop music. I couldn’t imagine anything, ever, being quite this good again.
You’ve heard all of this before.
Usually from blokes with dreadful haircuts and squeezed into Penguin polo shirt.
Droning on about the Roses in the bar.
Looking like Kathy Burke in that sketch.
Fading casuals with beer guts and a photograph of Paul Weller in their wallet for when they go to the barber.
Normally those chaps are wrong about everything.
But they are right about this.
“The Stone Roses” is as good as they say.
Almost overnight everything changed.
The music scene.
Out went the short back and sides and wedges.
In came bowl cuts.
Out went stone washed denim.
In came flares and Joe Bloggs t-shirts.
Out went the sound of C86 and Sarah Records.
In came Madchester.
Out went the cocaine madness.
In came ecstasy.
I wasn’t allowed a pair of flares.
I wasn’t confident enough to go for the haircut.
I really liked my indie records and bands…I found the Happy Mondays terrifying, initially.
I didn’t take any drugs.
The closest I came to sex, drugs and rock and roll was a bottle of Barrs Cola and a Mars Bar from the all night garage on my way home from school.
But I loved The Stone Roses.
I loved the art work.
Loved that it was a nod to the 1968 student riots in France…or summat.
Loved the Jackson Pollock vibe.
Loved the loops and swoops of the music.
Loved Ian Brown’s voice…he wasn’t perfect but it was pure and honest and made me think, maybe, just maybe I could do this too?
Most of all I loved “I Am The Resurrection”.
The thing is that song, genuinely, sounded like the last song you ever wanted to hear.
“I couldn’t stand another second in your company” was just about the most punk thing I had ever heard a singer sing.
The Stone Roses were just like me…but better.
I could see Ian telling some dreadful bore that he couldn’t stand another second in their company.
I could only dream of being brave.
Maybe it’s easy to be brave when you are in the best band in the world.
Thirty years have passed now.
I’m older and no wiser.
I am sick and I am dull and I am tired.
I feel, so often, hopeless.
Make me feel hopeful.
Make me smile.
Warm the bloody cockles of my heart.
They are the melodious howl of youth.
They are the soundtrack to our lives.