No, I couldn't say
how my life's
got into this mess.
All I know is that
there's no reverse gear on this thing,
and the steering’s off too.
And they took my licence away years ago
so don't ask who's doing the driving.
19 August 1989
The soundtrack to my life’s been an interesting one. In the seventies I used to religiously listen to the pop charts and write down the top twenty records and I honestly remember thinking at the time what a great time it was for new music. But then I started to notice that after two or three hits people started vanishing.
The seventies ended in a blaze of glory or went up in flames depending on your point of view and it was all change come 1980. But it wasn’t all bad. Far from it. David Bowie released ‘Ashes to Ashes’, The Jam brought out ‘Going Underground’ and who could forget the masterpiece that was ‘There's No One Quite Like Grandma’ by St Winifred's School Choir? The one that sticks in my mind, however, is the second single release from the Metamatic album by John Foxx, ‘No-One Driving’. It wasn’t much of a hit—the record entered the UK Singles Chart at no. 32, remained at the same position for a further week before dropping down—and we never heard anything more from him. I’d kind of hoped he was going to be another Gary Numan but, sadly, no. Of course if you look at Foxx’s Wikipedia page you can see he’s still on the go.
I’ve never really understood how that thing we call for convenience ‘inspiration’ works. I do remember how much ‘No-One Driving’ struck me at the time but here’s the thing: he’s saying nothing new, nothing I hadn’t heard before and yet the song buzzed around in my head for years and I have little doubt that it had something to do with this poem. There’s not much new in art but what it does is present it anew; maybe that’s Nature’s answer to the cliché.