i’ve seen lots of pretty girls

All the talking heads in the Peter Green documentary were male heads, I believe; and — for all they’ve achieved a kind of artless wondering openness towards the discussion of what must have been very tricky passages of their long-ago past — none seemed especially wise heads. Green himself, hearteningly enough, has emerged as a cheerfully plump balding hobbit of a man, a long long way from the ethereal and curly-headed yearning elf-poet of yore: he has — for someone who’s been through the extended labyrinthine haze of mental breakdown, medication and ECT and long stays on wards — a strikingly exact memory of moments, artistic or chemical or inspirational, on the cusp of his breakdown. He’s vague enough about what he wanted, what drove him — a thing that wasn’t yet there, in his music and his playing — but he’s funny and practical about everything else.

Other things to note:

i: clips of young Fleetwood, a gangly long-hair beanpole pulling goofy faces; clips of young Mcvie, small and compact, stern-faced, focused, always avoiding looking into camera. Compare both to how they are now
ii: the way Fleetwood always speaks for McVie, sat darkly right there beside him, keeping his counsel (“John always felt…”: why can’t John say what he always felt?)
iii: no one seems to get close to the nut of what went awry (money, drugs, sudden vast fame, various semi-related violations of idealised integrity, sex…), nor do they really recognise they’re nowhere near it. As anecdotes, it’s compelling; as self-analysis or wider cultural acuity, really nowhere…
iv: this was a generation who escaped the cramped given futures of their backgrounds into (someone else’s) musical facility rather than (someone else’s) verbal facility. “My” generation of pop-figures trusted music far less; placed far more uncritical trust in borrowed systems of words (tempted to say “college-boy” words). Which is perhaps why the reflection on display here seems so much more open and beguiling, right or wrong. It hasn’t convinced itself it’s “cleverer” than you; it isn’t looking over its shoulder all the time; its insight isn’t something you anxiously need to go away and read up on.
v: With iv in mind, significant perhaps that their “younger-generation commentator” has to be a Gallagher. He doesn’t bring much beyond simply stated fandom — but who might they have invited that allowed themselves even this? (And not clouded it up with second-guessing, I mean.)
vi: “B. B. King (…) said that the only guitarist that sent shivers down his spine was Peter Green…” Don’t read anything pejorative into the word “borrowed” here.
vii: [added a little later] Andy Capp-style flat caps as the fashion accessory of the Thames Delta Blues Kids, 40 years on.

One thought on “i’ve seen lots of pretty girls”

  1. The phrase “someone else’s” could use some unpacking. Do you mean they had mentors who weren’t their parents and teachers (and who weren’t physically present, but were known only through their recordings)? So, the facility is not there/theirs by birthright?

    But they’d have had actual, physically present mentors too, wouldn’t they? (Art school teachers, bohemians, Korner, Mayall.)

    In any event, whatever you mean, I’d say that facility is never there by birthright, isn’t to the manner born, even if some people obviously can have a leg up regarding what they were born to and weaned on. But once you’ve got the facility, it’s yours.

    “placed far more uncritical trust in borrowed systems of words” Hmmm. As someone halfway between Green’s generation and yours, hmmm. I don’t know. But what you seem to be saying, when you say “uncritical trust,” is that the facility in using the terms to, like, say something was never attained. That’s probably not what you mean, but does seem to be what the sentence implies. Of course, I’m placing something pejorative into my reading of “uncritical trust.”

    Barely know the Green-era FM, and haven’t (yet?) watched the doc. Is it crucial for me to see?

    I doubt very much that the Stones, or Dylan, or the Yardbirds, or the Kinks, or Hendrix, placed uncritical trust in their music. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been constantly reshaping it.

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