: Art, Food, Music…and Paul Weller

Another great website, worth multiple weekly surfings. Coolmag is “talking Italian”, but I’m sure my friends abroad will appreciate (maybe with the help of an online-translator) the fine and deep journey into art, design, food, and music of course.

Discovered thanks to my friend Cosimo,  a mad Wellerian like me, who’s a contributor and reviewer. This is his latest blog, describing the magic time we had last week in Torino,  for a short but emotionally intense showcase by our mentor. The original review is in Italian, I have quickly translated it (without the help of the online translator hehe..),  so forgive my mistakes. I hope you get the feeling tho.

Paul Weller, Torino, 25 giugno 2010, Università Dams MTV DAYS 2010

The new generations, children of the exasperated technology, are flooded with music. They have trendy iPods with powerful hard drives, you carry around 1000, 2000 and more songs to listen to for weeks without interruptions. Like drinking a glass of water. Yes, music is like water for them: it’s wet at the moment, then evaporates without a trace. You have everything, but it’s like having nothing.

I was aware of that, of course, but Friday June 25 at DAMS in Turin I had another confirmation: I wonder if the new generations will never have the opportunity, desire and love to do 350 kms just to listen to 4 songs and an interview, to shake hands with a musician who left a deep mark in the soul and heart of us fans, all born in the Sixties.

Memorable day. Paul Weller meets us in the classroom of the university to be interviewed (for 45 minutes) by the excellent Bill Flanagan. Paul gives open heart answers, he’s not an easy character: his disagreements with the press are well known, but Flanagan is a real “old style” journalist who goes on stage without notes, asking sensible and never banal questions, turning the interview into a touching retrospective of the life of Paul.

The Modfather explains the metropolitan sound of his last album “Wake Up The Nation” was motivated by a desire to go wilder than the canonical compositional limits of rock. With a great desire for new challenges. In short: do not abdicate.

Flanagan asks him how it feels to be a benchmark for new musicians, Paul says he is very proud of that. His father recently died and he remembers him as his drinking buddy, as his first fan, the one encouraging to never give up, even in times of poor reputation: as in the late 80s, after the dissolution of The Style Council, when the public had left and he found himself playing for 2 years before a few dozen people each night, followed by a brilliant solo career, as you know.

The bright Flanagan avoids the usual sad and trite questions such as “Will Bruce Foxton’s presence on the last album lead to a reunion of the Jam?”, only tackling the subject with discretion. Paul does not hold back, and admits it was the right time and situation, having had both painful losses (Paul father, Foxton’s wife). Then he recalls his obsession for music as a kid (“I wanted to be Paul McCartney”), and now he considers himself a satisfied and happy artist (he’s not interested to be a “rockstar” at all). Paul also strongly suggests the audience to put a band together, to talk more with their wives, husbands, children, parents, and turn off the damn computer!

Then the time for music comes, Paul is in Torino with the full band (Steve Cradock, Andy Lewis, Steve Pilgrim, Andy Crofts), 4 acoustic guitars and a bass, they start with “All on Misty Morning” from “As is now”, “Mistress Brown” from the penultimate single,”That’s Entertainment” from the Jam days and” No Tears No Cry” from “Wake Up The Nation”.

At the end of the show I approach him, asking for an autograph on the sleeve of my favorite single (the 7″ of “My Ever Changing Moods” TSC era), he does it with joy, shakings my hand tight and hugging me.An exciting moment for me, I grew up with the cult of the Modfather not only because he’s my favorite artist, but also because it’s 30 years I’m reading and collecting every newspaper article or short paragraph that concerns him, don’t call it real fanaticism, but a way to understand Weller and to know what he listens at that time. Thanks to him, I also discovered a lot of other extraordinary artists. My motto has always been “If it pleases him, it pleases me too” and there you go with Marvin Gaye, Tim Hardin, Burt Bucharach, Terry Callier, Sly & the Family Stone, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Traffic, Motown and Stax.

Meeting him then, was like meeting a good old neighbour or an older brother, someone who’s more ahead than me on music, always ready to give me this kind of advice: “Hey dude, listen to this record, it’s not bad”. Coincidentally, Paul also wrote the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. So, embracing him, it was like to embrace all the music we love most.

Cosimo Calogiuri (c)

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