Thursday, 25 June 2009

Steven Wells RIP

This won't mean much to anyone but me, really, but indulge me for a minute or two.

When I started writing (real) music reviews for my university newspaper, the person I idolised the most was Steven Wells, writer for the New Musical Express. He knew practically nothing about music, hated most of the bands I loved and nothing he ever wrote could be believed (such as the time he wrote an editorial saying anyone who knows more than two sporting facts should be locked up as mentally ill, about a decade before becoming a sports writer for the Guardian). But every Wednesday, when I got the NME home, I'd scan through it for articles by Swells (as he was known) and laugh myself silly at his brilliant reviews and articles.
Whenever I've written anything since, I've tried to follow the rules I imagined he did: even if the readers don't agree with your opinion, it doesn't matter so long as you entertain them. One of my favourite comments about my music reviews in the Warwick Boar was "I totally disagreed with your review of the Stereophonics single, but I couldn't help but laugh at it".
Sadly, Swells died yesterday, having been suffering from cancer for some time. The last piece he wrote for the Philadelphia Weekly (his local newspaper since he moved to America some years ago), published today, showed a man who knew his time had come, and who was ready to face his end. I feel I should celebrate the man who inspired me to write this stuff on my blog, and if one day - God forbid - I ever make a living out of sitting poised over a keyboard, trying to think of another witty simile, it will be due to him.
Godspeed Swells, you cranky, crossdressing, vitriolic, unashamedly socialist, Belle-and-Sebastian-fan-angering, Daphne-and-Celeste-loving bloke.
A typical Steven Wells piece, from a Nine Inch Nails live review:

Mr Trent Reznor, I’m sure you’re a wonderful guy, I bet you love small children
and dogs and are a warm and sensitive lover. But onstage you are about as much
fun as Christmas in a genital cancer ward. An evening watching your band is
about as pleasurable as three-way sex with Mr and Mrs Himmler.


Red said...

RIP, dude. That Trent Reznor bit is hilarious.

Daltana said...

So many wonderful figures of our modern age have been lost. The world will be a sadder place until the next generation can popularize its own mental role models and heroes.

Distributorcap said...

he did have a way with words

mo.stoneskin said...

You're a Charlie Brooker reader aren't you? I can tell.

Jillian said...

Wow. I loved his final piece, and loved reading the wonderful stories in the comments too. Sounds like we lost a good one this time.

Amy Green. said...

I loled at the Trent Reznor crack.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Mo: It's true. You can probably see his influence from the fact that I totally rip him off all the time.

Gifted Typist said...

That's heavy and moving. People who are healthy and think they have problems should read that.