Today’s is a guest posting from a friend of mine named Ken Lynch. I first met Ken through a mutual love of Butcher Boy and over the years have come to know him as a well-refined and stylish fella with great taste for many of the finer things in life. Indeed he is something of a charming man and a bit of a handsome devil too….
He put some thoughts on Facebook yesterday and I was delighted when he responded positively to my ask that they be shared widely.
A GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM KEN LYNCH
I’ve just finished reading Johnny Marr‘s autobiography, which I absolutely loved. I could hear Johnny speaking every word that I read; it was so engaging.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Johnny a few times over the years; in the brief encounters with him, I’ve always come away thinking exactly how a friend of mine recently described him: A good guy. This comes across in Set The Boy Free; his humour & passion shines through every chapter. I really can’t recall enjoying another book as much. It’s well set out, with proper chronology – including chapters and an index – the absence of which affected my enjoyment of Morrissey‘s autobiography. It also felt as if Johnny put in just the right amount of detail into each section; that he was aware of wanting to tell his story accurately without ‘going on’; that he wanted the reader to enjoy his story, that the quality of the writing was important to him. He did all of this in his own engaging, enthusiastic manner, which makes it such an easy read.
Most importantly for me, I was reminded of *just* how special The Smiths were. Johnny was very young when he started the band. What they achieved in those few short years was incredible; the quality of the songs so good that you almost need to be reminded not to take them for granted. This was an extraordinarily talented group of young people; when The Smiths played their last gig, Johnny was only 23! By then, he had composed music that I don’t think has ever been matched. He’s an innovator, and continues to be so.
Here’s a picture from May 2001, in London, after a gig at The Borderline in London with Neil Finn.
I remember going to the loo before the gig. The loos at the borderline are tiny – you open the door and urinals are right in front of you. There’s room for three at the trap, and I was the filling in the sandwich. I only realised at the moment I stepped up that I had Neil Finn on my left, and Johnny Marr on my right. I couldn’t go. I made a joke about it and they both laughed and patted me on the back before they left. That night, I had a really nice chat with Johnny. He was a fascinating guy to talk to, very down to earth, affable, funny and a great storyteller. He also showed interest in my world, which I was really touched by.
If you haven’t read Set The Boy Free, I recommend you do.
In all the time I’ve known Ken, he’s never once mentioned that story. If I’d spent any sort of quality time with Johnny Marr you can be assured that I’d mention constantly to anyone remotely interested!
What I feel also makes it such a great review is that Ken, being barely over the age of 40, wouldn’t have been old enough to fully appreciate and understand the impact of The Smiths when they burst onto the scene, and so he’s offering the view of how special they were through the eyes of someone who unfortunately never got to experience the live phenomena. Such an appreciation takes a very keen and astute mind.
Here’s some tunes:-
mp3 : The Smiths – Pretty Girls Make Graves
mp3 : Electronic – Feel Every Beat (7″ remix)
mp3 : The The – The Beat(en) Generation
mp3 : Billy Bragg – The Boy Done Good (extended mix)
mp3 : Johnny Marr – The Messenger