Mark E. Smith (1957 – 2018)

Блізкія да дарагой рэдакцыі мьюзіклаверс з Менску і Брайтана, не панаслышке знаёмыя з творчасцю Марка Сміта, адгукнуліся на смерць героя антыракенрола.

Марк И. Смит умер. Он был интеллектуалом, пьяницей, бузотером, циником; едким, саркастичным, ироничным человеком. Бескомпромиссным и своеобычным. Ну и да, лидером The Fall, чьи 30 составов были им безжалостно разогнаны. Если это будет твоя бабуля на бонгах и я, то это все равно будет The Fall, так говорил.

А как правильно играть два панковских G и D, ему приходилось музыкантам показывать и доказывать с помощью кулаков. Ни на одном инструменте играть он не умел. А хуле, работник манчестерских доков, за словом в карман не лез. То что у The Fall воровали все, от Sonic Youth до LCD Soundsystem, его дико раздражало. Характер скверный, женат трижды, одна жена глава фэн-клуба, две других играли в The Fall.

Он был моим абсолютным героем и любимым певцом. О пении тут стоит поговорить отдельно, потому как эта интонация, которую не спутаешь, и злобное карканье, чтение текста и совершенно кривые глиссандо, которыми он так умело пользовался, и составляют это самое очарование. За это самое пение его доставали критики все время, мол, а не сходить ли вам к преподавателю. Угу, нет, мне кажется, я пою норм. а лирика это отдельное дело. я, помню, лазил по ней со словарем, пытаясь разобраться. В его автобиографии нашлось объяснение всему этому, а читается она легко и весело.

Я не люблю весь The Fall, учителя хорошие, — не думаю, что Смит одобрил бы безоговорочное обожание его наследия (там ваще можно легко отделаться и сказать post punk). Но на концерт поперся в нерезиновую по первому сообщению. Концерт был норм, рядовым. И песни, и альбомы, и концерты выходили у него, как по графику. Work, work, work! Мило обменялись любезностями после концерта, когда он обозвал Беларусь чем-то вроде fucking shit country. Ну а как.

В последнее время он болел, выступал в коляске уже прошедшей осенью. Когда ему было 60 в прошлом году, объявили о его смерти. Потом извинялись. Казалось — ну, это уже было. Но этот-то перезарядит затвор, и поворчит ещё лет 20. А нет.


Блядь, блядь,блядь.

and though I tried to make amends,
still I miss him
I walk a dark corridor

Максим Вовчинский


(5th March 1957 – 24th January 2018)

It is with immeasurable sadness that I write of the passing of Mark E. Smith. Mark was a singer, a wit, an original thinker and a truly visionary artist. And, like all visionary artists, the quality and scope of his work cannot even be approximated by others. I considered myself very fortunate to have been able to call him a friend. My very first live encounter with The Fall was in October 1978 at the age of 14. It was sublime. They were playing at a Rock Against Racism benefit gig at a tiny club called Kelly’s in Manchester. The thing that immediately struck me was the group’s down to earth appearance and low key demeanor.

Punk, for all its talk of being a ground zero roots rebellion, still contained strong elements of show business. The majority of punk performances involved the bands projecting themselves into the audience’s fantasies via striking poses and jumping around in eye-catching outfits and sometimes make up. For instance, The Clash – often thought of as a group of natural and authentic rebels – had clearly choreographed their stage moves and designed their stage clothes (costumes) to have maximum impact.

With The Fall however, there wasn’t even a hint of show business. It seemed like direct communication. As they shambled onto stage, looking like a bunch of teenagers who’d just been thrown out of some grubby youth club, there was a very noticeable sense of ‘Take it or leave it. We know it’s good. You either get it or you don’t’.

Every song seemed to inhabit its own strange world. And I was fascinated by Mark’s between song banter. It was like there was no difference between him singing and him talking. Sometimes he made elliptical statements, sometimes he’d be describing what was happening on stage, but everything he said sounded enigmatic and quotable. It was the song ‘Repetition’ which truly convinced me I had stumbled into the presence of genius. A hymn to ‘The three Rs; Repetition, Repetition, Repetition’, the track is five minutes of slow moving psychosis, a sonic statement of intent, which the lyrics describe as having been created for ‘All you daughters and sons who are sick of fancy music.’

After that I became a devotee. I saw The Fall as often as I could. Over the years I’ve seen them more than any other band. Somewhere north of 40 gigs – although I know men half my age who have seen them over a hundred times. I’ve seen a handful of so-so gigs and one dreadful one. But more often than not I’ve been transported by a man and a group who no matter how much they experimented always remained in touch with the primal excitements of rock and roll. After my conversion at the age of 14 I tried to convince several of my school friends of the importance of band. Nobody else really got it. Some of them thought I was joking. Some of them seemed actively hostile towards the group. But the phrase I heard uttered the most often was “It’s too weird for me”. The Fall are still a difficult band to defend to those who don’t get it. Because well, The Fall are a difficult band. Although they’ve produced their fair share of songs with hooks and catchy riffs, they are, at root, exponents of a singular brand of art rock. They follow their own path and it’s not always easy to tag along. Their music can frequently be abrasive, repetitious, atonal and sometimes deliberately downright ugly.

11 years ago, when I was writing the third series of ‘Ideal’ there was a scene where a mentally disturbed Christian builder has a vision of Jesus. But I didn’t imagine Jesus with a beard and flowing robes. I wanted him to look like some guy you might meet down the pub. Suddenly it became obvious who had to play the role… I wasn’t sure whether it was a good omen or not, but when the clapper board was lifted into shot for the first take of Mark’s scene playing Jesus, miraculously it turned out to be slate number 666.

Mark was clearly out of his comfort zone but in the end he delivered a subtle and funny performance. The on screen result – Mark bathed in a golden glow, giving foul mouthed godly instructions, soundtracked by the strange celestial music of Coil – is the highlight of the third series. And it’s definitely my proudest TV achievement. After that, to my scarcely concealed glee, Mark and I stayed in touch and became friends. We even collaborated together and wrote a horror film script. Sometimes his enthusiasm for the project would take me by surprise. On one occasion my landline rang at 2:30 in the morning. I answered it, expecting the worst. Expecting to be told a loved one is ill and that I need to go directly to some hospital or other. However, it was Mark. He’d just flown back from doing some gigs in Portugal and whilst on the plane had had “some pretty good ideas for the script”. I grabbed my notebook and pen and wiped the sleep from my eyes.

Sadly however, when we completed the screenplay every production company we showed it to told us “it’s too weird for me”. The last time I saw Mark was on the 12th of November. I visited him in Prestwich, where he was recuperating after a course of chemo. He looked so skinny and careworn. But he was in remarkably good spirits. Although we talked a little about his illness, Mark was full of plans for the future. A week-long residency in Brooklyn, more recording and an idea for a documentary.

He’d been watching lots of DVDs and had recently enjoyed ‘The Greasy Strangler’ as well as revisiting Lindsay Anderson’s wonderful ‘Britannia Hospital’. He also said how disappointed he’d been with ‘Electric Dreams’ the TV series of Philip K. Dick adaptations, targeting the glossy title sequence in particular; “It’s like they’re trying to get you to join Nat West!” But most of all, we laughed. Mark was one of the funniest men I’ve ever known. The fact that you never knew where the humour was going to come from or what the target might be made his company all the more exhilarating.

As I rode in the taxi on the way back to Manchester, my cheeks were aching from laughing. Yet I was also well aware that this would probably be the last time I would ever see him. I cannot begin to count the ways his work has influenced my own. I cannot begin to ponder on a cultural landscape without him. His legacy is enormous. His absence is bloody awful.

“Ours is not to look back, Ours is to continue the craic”

Graham Duff

January 26, 2018

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