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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Peel

John Peel died Monday evening, aged 65.

I must confess I was a bigger fan of Dave Lee Travis than John Peel. Nevertheless, in the long lonely days of my latchkey existence, the John Peel Show was often in the background.

Robert Hanks describes perfectly what I remembered of this man:

"People who spent their adolescence tuned into Peel's Radio 1 show received an extensive education in modesty, kindness and gentle sarcasm, and learned that an appreciation of the music of rebellion and hate doesn't necessarily preclude grace of manner and tolerance: that being nice was kind of cool."

"But over at least three decades he mattered to his listeners not only because of the records he played, but because of the way he talked between the records (it is important that for Peel it always was between records: it would have struck him as a gross discourtesy, to band and listener, to talk over the music)."

John Peel was a man who loved music, stayed out of the way, and played his records. He'd rather let the music speak for itself.

In the same way, I will stop writing and let you hear him yourself.

I leave you with this:

"The Monday evening show the weekend after the Hillsborough tragedy was a piece of broadcasting I'll never forget.

He said nothing at the start of his show. He just played a record. A long slow record. It was Aretha Franklin's heart breaking gospel version of You'll Never Walk Alone.

I looked through the glass from my adjacent studio and John was just weeping. Silently. So were all of us - his listeners.

Nothing more needed to be said. "


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