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2: Alan Johnson on Hunky Dory


This is Mike is Guitarist versus case abandoned. Ask anybody see me before Do many gigs exceptions slowly to get the best co filial heart and it's by American General Kubik froze sending to drink. Welcome back twelve twelve. I'm Ostlund Muhammad. In December nineteen seventy-one a young postman named Allen Johnson living in Slough yearly married and father to boot got slammed sideways. David Bowie's intricate masterpiece. Hunky-dory the one time. Maud and lead guitarist of the area and impoverished Beatles deputy with emissions of fame installed. That would definitely making the next copy. David Bowie's new album. Perfect capture that zeitgeist setting the mood. For the turbulent decades. It was at once Potter and some Tennessee. Light years ahead of Allen's world record shops gigs in smokey clubs long fled platforms. The last train home fat hunky-dory served as a clarion call for new generation in which? Alan dreamed of being part. Well it's funny. How things turn out. Isn't it Allan? Johnson never became an expert instead having left school at fifteen after chart of trauma of a t and struggled he ends up being the home secretary. Symbol lesser achievements being in contact after leaving school stacking shows and TESCO'S. He's become a postman and join the Union of Communication. He became General Secretary. Nineteen ninety-two and in nine hundred ninety seven was elected labour. Mp A L- Western Hessel. Let's go rise was meteoric and in the end. He held five cabinet posts under Tony Blair and success Gordon. Brown including opposed to being secretary perhaps understandably after twenty years of big shopping at the political fray. He stood down from Westminster. Twenty seven seat garnering respectful tributes from across the house and in general being knowledged is one of the finest parliamentarians of his day. Now I can't really think of many of the politicians of recent times who could honestly save their childhoods that they've never forgotten that craving food this much much multi his life from the extraordinary circumstances of his childhood. And if you want to fascinating story determination endeavor from the point of view. Dyed-in-the-wool pop fanatic. You really should get hold of the three books of his memoirs each named after Beatles Song so this this please Mr Postman and the law blinding wrote his most recent in my life that music nimble covers his life music with funk recollections of the artists and songs that have shaped his life over the years in the book. Allen has a lot of praise for not insane. And that's what I guessed. He might want to talk about. So I invested pulled cost in the events when inclined to might need -firmative actually Hunky Dory yells discuss so off too. I went on a sunny day to meet him at his offices. Neither side and economic few SEGEL's points very friendly and open and although a little bit push time and the relative brevity physician he was incredibly entertaining and illuminated on Hunky Dory and his own memories of music and what he was doing this life of that time so join me an Johnson and so on Johnson. Thank you so much for joining me. It's an advisor to to be here with you and Yeah so you're very familiar was from your political career. Luckily as a very successful author with your members what else is taking your time these days since you step down component was still writing. Because I'm writing a novel now into fiction for the first time I'd I'd do Broadcasting regular documentary the other week. Do Some telly telly. Some stuff I did. Luckily the jess but actually the writing. I meet some as I think. Darth Pokka said the art of writing is the art of applying the also. The seats He's just doing so that's will diet is kind of at least four rallies slaving over blank piece of paper and then hugged the next day that will have on. It is Is Readable so so. That's the main thing and I really didn't want anything to interfere with that so I lost. Some office has capitalism politicians. Do WanNa do that. I didn't want to do that because it would take me down to London. I'm here now. Urine spot is for most country. Of course Spiders from hall Israeli. He wants you to be remote sin with Nancy and trump about other rule from whole driven with from politics. Because that's why you hear your home there was I didn't let yeah but as a clumpy it could spiders which is often on his mouth and there's memorial not as good as it should be to make Ronson is a stage in Nepal Kia Ronson stage but we should should be a statue leaves a council. Bogey here not just a grave digger as they say but municipal. God even up here and played with with Nancy of boulder in a couple of bands around hall. And then just as a coincidence I think would miss met Bowie and By US looking to recruit eleven to nine hundred won't hear from so they really are and in city culture in two thousand seventeen we will you KC coach one of the great events was the recreation of the whole album as stardust by the spiders from Mars well that was one still alive then and and it was a great event at the city outlets and Wade through the tracks of of Stardust. Yeah it's a good thing I was writing about in my life is. The baby was had an important living in real time. This Social History Music. We would there in the birth of rock and roll. We with their skiffle. Zoll me as a thirteen year old listening to the Beatles and suddenly there were kids write their own songs to working class. Kids Reiner and so's not dependent on Tim. Perry and the fact that it would never trump the American charts with British pop music before suddenly battles number one number two number three number four number six. That whole era was signed to live through in real time with Bowie was part of that and and and the way we listened to music as well. This isn't colon part social history in the course of rights in apple here just to to some people on the generation. Just reinforce while I already knew pizza listening to the Beatles. Now let's and listening to boase and listen to Bobby's early stuff and nobody else. I mean I don't think that listening to Presley but he didn't write his own songs because it was a boy that's more shut and that was the route people became famous in pop. Music for a while and only steel roller coaster natural progressions tonight into musical Happens to steal store so allies e still. Yeah still alive and kicking Coty. Some important birthday must be eighty five eighty five ninety nine but he was the great white working class. Hope was that a lot from early very early reviews of the Beatles Proteins. Still say here's someone who can follow the steps of Tony Stewart as the Alan Partridge acton wings with the Beatles? Could've been but coming now to this this album when I got in such the you got that means that you would like to Hunky Dory and that slight surprise me because having radio fantastic music memoir some reason I thought you would WanNa talk about an insane just because you had some wonderful anecdotes from around that time. It was the head of the head of the communication jobs placement. You're just posting those postmen who is trying to wear lightning flash space and if you'd beaten Saudi might be more lenient on well that's ziggy stardust. Enormous impact because of stormy nights in the book. Because everyone's all the Kiss David Bowie be didn't because nobody had video machines that is became a myth. He put his home round demonising. And those innocent early seventies suddenly. This was this was scandalous comment. And then a lot insane. Yes that incident out of loved his Bowie freak raising three kids on a council estate in Slough huge counselors like the state. It's always twenty twenty twenty one mad about about Bowie when Aladdin. Saint came out about twenty two twenty three and not have loved to put that slashes. And I'd seen that Kid A few years earlier Oh went before I was union. Rep Get sent home Roy out so you can imagine. Walking on. The door will be delivery so riding own collapse this guy with a line in both. But that's what how Bowie got to be a part of that. But actually hunky. Dory was my main introduction to Bowie opposition to his fellow stuff. Read the Record Mirror Randomly Nike And Ama I knew what was happening and Bowie was already been talked about in the mid sixties. When that you see you aware of US aware of you very Jamal and yeah that was paid by the way is very much about the moats wouldn't have danced laughing. No doubt I mean. That's the trouble with that kind of Tony. Anthony new phase Was a bit strange but nevertheless he was a singer songwriter and they were still few and far between a a he was something about and there was an appeal about him. I missed out on the man who sold the world and I love Johnny Johnson heard that baseline Which is by travel. Boulder is such a terrific. But really I would say that I mean people talk about. Bobby's Aladdin Sane phase and a similar joop phase in courses ziggy satisfies. But there was a Hunky dory phase. I thought was Hunky Dory in the way I think about About later phases that he that loan have which I copied and emulated to do really. There was no mayday coverings on my ago. Cody like his girlfriend when he got long. And there's a photograph of me actually in the third book in my Hunky Dory phase in a standing with my two daughters trying to look very much like by that time you'd affront and the kids that was no flashes across nosy styles. No pantaloons that There were very big flavors of I remember from the album cover but then was nineteen seventy-one Society Betas it finished in seventy seventy one. We've come listen to crosby stills Nash and young most things will often across from California and British scene was gonNA get into Glam. Rock on. This APP was just amazing Tool Capelle. A game changer. Us stop that on and it just changes and you just blown away as you would be. Today I mean the in between the I'm missing Space audited yes. 'cause carry was on the same with that. Paulhamus album then he kind of off the say the uninstall sixty nine in the week the Apollo Eleven. Roy's landing a man on the moon and a week instantly in my first wife and two children then moved from the Slums Kensington to cancel house. It's Slough on the day that the stones had their concern. I thought we were GONNA go to that. 'cause allegedly June July sixty nine year just after Brian. Yeah yeah that's right and they released. The white dog is the week up some of that But we missed that. 'cause we relievers van yet. One day you got to move. This is moving to a place of Indo bathroom to it up front garden back on the frank we have to miss out on the stuns but then at the end of that week on the Friday of that week out pen space oddity and eating absolutely to decide guys because hadn't just been space odyssey the Field Museum Anti Kubrick filmed. I grabbed wounds imagination. You had the moon landing Hudson and as I say in the book when I was watching as everyone was nealon still black and white tallies Alisa posting site to get up early in the liver so I'd watched it for most of the night griped about sleep but as I was walking around in the morning delivery mile in front rooms tobacco went settings. Who still flickered people that stayed up all night with still watching but the soundtrack to that to me when they showed the amazing fill these that mazing footage navy sang in a stat. Familiar Johnny for me to be it was. Can you hear me major tones and gave me major till I mean it was such a wonderful idea to release it on that day but once again as I said in that book that record look on and on whenever you hear it it sounds just as fresh Strange and other weld most stuff deitz If you listen to his latest space on its die so for me along SEPETU years. Seventy-one Hunky Dory. Wow this is this is a great artist so you were young family. You was that when he was the postman strike. Yeah yes so now money so I was twenty my youngest son that just been bold January seventy one he went on job creation of music and I think is Jamie and I got. Several weeks paternity leave currency unit postal worker. Now nobody has that strikes like that. Roy Moore the loss. Big One was the miners strike. And we'd know strike by from the Union you could claim some benefits then for your Chil- of yourself. Afia dependence has. I had three layer subjects in bold actually found a lobbyist gang was of just went decimal than fifty people zoning for a week with the post office which is wild reputation. That's happening but that was very kind of big defining moment in my life but I didn't have loza money to splash around my records because of that agreed why we're going to shell out for an LP. What would be what we would be buying so mainly I was listening to the stuff on the radio buying albums cat. Stevens was another league By hunky Dory was not just my favorite bobby album in by five favorite. Jalen's radio fulltime time. You have on. That's what he's was in there and then probably three bagels. Be Darn. I'm not too far of hunky-dory already fascinating. Because when he stopped recording didn't record deal he started demoing these tracks and then they were shots around all ca records heard those demos. I'm alright yeah you're onto. Something signed him and so he starts recording around January. June nineteen seventy one. And we get these songs which are just fascinate tonight. You just mentioned now. He was this very mercurial character around the London live scene. That was the debut album. That was the space. Odyssey album sold the world. All these were interesting for as into different styles. Yeah Dory I think around. That's on the vocals. Very much singer songwriters. So especially the West Coast People James Taylor and so forth but here well. I think this is very much similar job. It's really weird. It's really weird out when you when you what he's seeing about different genres that made it quite unusual and really weird because he references to people who have influenced him Dylan's in that Andy. Warhol coast is in that and and changes style almost You know homage to the velvet underground in We Bitch Bitch. The Deputy Poverty Yes satin and tat busy out that we see that we can love whole kernel of Glam Rock. Real Eddie. Cochran January three in the lyrics of all. They're very kind of sexually ambiguous and this is a theme that runs through the cinematic. Listen to the way he's yes. He's on the eleventh. I'm watching Chris. I'm down here very filming narrative because and I have a theory in Hunky Dory we've got Bowie's career and his future in not show so many of the themes that you'd go on to explicitly with the Chechen changes his right changes. Changes IS GENERATIONAL THING. I think changes some about look at look at the sixth generation fighting the Beatles split up the stones innovated into rock dinosaur. Look at look at that. Generational shift ended the hippie dream and he looks at this also on all the dudes my brother's Home Beatles stuns yeah we the new generation now and this is where we are teddy. Bright that then at that time the Orioles he's written about it was about the same time because then he doubled it and then mother who pool took it. I think the Mo who hit like the big hit was suing three bucks. But it's something which keeps coming back. He's me back to what he's writing another threat. Which is being emerging from the Minnesota World is the occult is sort of these very dark references. You know he was fascinated by Buddhism in the late sixties. There are lots of references to Buddhist states of mind and you know the concepts of how we progress through Auburn stages and then died changes to me and that's also replaced in the music of changes. Let your strange fascination has this at its heart is first big anthem. And I'd be curious. What did you feel at the time? Very tangible ship from the idealism the sixties into the seventies probably would be messing about with inside. If I sit down was I didn't feel at the Tolan. Why fell at that time? Was I was GONNA be a Star. So you know my. I've been in two bands both broken up. We'd be nicked. The Bass Guitars in the second band is Indian betweens which was multiracial. Very unusual Mundi sixty seven west Indian GEICO sham. What it means to start another band with him. I was stuck in Chelsea desk jobs as was my day job. Unless some money I'll get married. Camerin is eighteen and to a single mother and he said he was opposed to postmen high. Right which note on this. He said if you want some money come into the committed. Postal Roy they concrete stops at his tons of. I've it's on every tell me what can our weekend is double time so you can actually a good money sign up do that temporarily till I get some at Hoffman very thin nick mortgage out until I get some money together. Get together with people you know. Get back into music and then the next thing a moving house out to Slough and bit council estate but still writing so writing. Seoul's a lot sickly around this time you know. I listened to by authorities. An APP see brilliant Solo. Run to be able to To Ryo as you say that filming quantity life on Mars just the opening statement on the panel in just at that opening Scotto Small Fair for to cover them up mousy hair and then you're eating this story here. Although he's got bit Lazy I think at times you know. He says he will not one night. Mice and evidence for my piece. It's not what withhold broken if we think about it and it could be a beef. It was kind of very cool. Dismays grandparents coming over. Mars appeal cinematic off the whole. It's option production is like an abuser shit. Didn't closely again. Do your construction out did he. Did he was as ruthless? And then if you had transformed by the guy was such an underrated arranger walk straight but this cinematic thing looks a theme that runs through your right life. Mas It's so it starts off with the mousy hair and heading no had I tells. Her friend is nowhere to be seen says she goes to the cinema. And then it's all there on the silver screen. I'm always it's overload of information. Yeah any some of them. Sound is some of them. Sound so easy this in a Cappella hippie phase. I'm just reminded of a soul is almost forgotten now. That was my bobby tracked down despite two thousand seven four Allowed inside which is driving Saturday. I mean this store all their including a youtube video. Now the would video until that. Annette must be seventy three seventy. Three and Jaguar. Looking to Jack is inside the video games. Yeah not a video. Recording video games yeah. Pm till video recorded. That didn't come for another seventy s into this empty. Said he's listen. If this obsession with spice space in a pretty things life mas carried right through stall man and then right so did with Aladdin saying I carried on. Hello space boy. He and his final videos did for blackstone. He knew the very unlikely. He's going to be around much longer and so they so. If you've seen the video for blackstone phenomenal staff of Major Tom. Again on a distant planet somewhere. Yeah deadline day. I just because I was great reader as well. Read a lot science fiction because My sister's first husband was very big dylan fan with no one had heard Dylan. Because he loved folk music means some travel on. That was dylan album. He's I babe. Zeus having to write Brian to SCI FI so styled love it to me the Bowie souls liked life on Mars. Like driving Saturday science fiction short stories. I guess that wasn't byways influence. His influence was more cutting ephemeral religious aspect of. I'm not a world. What am I think you're right? I think he was a Houston fiction. Fine if you look you pretty things. He's talking about the coming race in. And this Nick Peg. Who Does the customer sometimes has set? This refers to run to Bulwer. Lytton who was in nineteenth century science fiction author and he was very big on the on on this concept of like bit loved Nici Hunger Bear. It wasn't a superior that that is a superior race coming. Yeah a clearing the decks to make way for these for the Minnesota world was took obsessive. Hp lovecraft admitted at a time when people said well looks about because too much across the smoke monster most open. Yeah so I think you have this kind of flirtation with the far-right he did not comes up again here in quicksand. Yeah when it's come again revisiting. The theme of Buddhism beliefs tries he always grappled with but here in quicksand. Introduces some really dark references. Crowley he refers to see the world through him. Lewis is and then Churchill's lies and it makes you wonder where you where he's coming from in this is wrong in the mid Seventies. I think the drugs had logged role to play in this his rushes in his his curiosity about Fascism Essay. Serbia spots by the stage. And he's always been he's never shied away from exploring to boost subjects ideologies which require dog. Yeah I'd I hadn't realized he read some citation mine. My problem is I guess. I love Reading Bud. Light reading about musicians. I in all the Beatles stuff Mama's on this one day I'll get around to the view ready. I could signed by MOM. We Re Book Festival together doing the Beatles say back did you see this was fully is back at Cheltenham Festival because I was a director Cheltenham so for one year you get a chance to pick some license and I said let's do something about the Beatles as a man of US got twenty one's mocks the book for Me Five Hundred. I read mainly fiction And if I'm reading nonfiction it Jerry knockdown music so these I don't really know a great deal about not not really on the musical journalists. An analyst of music. I just listened to it so so I realized liquid. Hp lovecraft. It's it's subtle. It's not. He's not shot but I think what's more interesting is the way all this stuff. Just feats in what he's doing. I mean if we stand back and look Bobby's autism before he's very much a magpie and he admits in its use rights life on not any one thing on the back cover of Hunky Dory your first himself. Yeah Yeah so. I think this was the first album really say that. What when he comes to legal that stuff with mom and aunt rough. The problem for him was I guess. Site is a problem because David by always wanted to be a performer. Who as into Abbot God's roadsides devastating to choose in a? Oh you pretty things. Only young Jude's Changes just a hook of a line. That would have made him mid intimacy just writing. Pop songs really into fruition on this album. Yeah and this album sounds. The wave does because he started writing piano use composing piano. I like him so when he saw demoing it. Straight ways publishes up on things and they gave the pizza noon. Yes and I think you're right. It's some astonishing. Just how he's let's idiot really do much musically the Minnesota Wild Dallas. It's gone hoping there. But if the Hannity on this out. And we see that fruition yes of the musician fruition. It's amazing out. Jewish something to talk about. Was You have kids and Roques Kooks yeah when someone's boom what was that experience life you when when you I I like to? Yeah love. Love takes coincided. When when he was very small we started. I love story and I liked that. So bowie would have to be very lightweight stuff thrown around the album. But I'm not the only person who found that one of the most challenging bits of of the record I was. You're not didn't imagine for minute. Kalin my son's Zoe Maybe Olsen Johnson. But he did. I think at the good sense according Dunkin proper the I think it was a would something not yet. Now he's could he went through a few. I'd like that I'd written a soloist assigned my book yes. Dynamite son was born because he was the midwives came upstairs. This was the time when men were not welcome. Been anywhere near Childbirth about is I remind house I could have insisted but his lovely Irish major news very very experienced just as well because Giannis bewilder cooled political rallies neck. She dealt with that brilliantly. But whenever suggested I'd bring them up a cup of tea and push me out so I went downstairs picked up John. Steinbeck took Roy well-concealed. I I myself now. You Jenny really has begun. I really hope you like it on the train. You'll never see that waiting room again. And she heard us this as a win heart. She said No. Do you not think he'd got better things to do. Mr Johnson and plunking away on that on Utah I Bowie Ryan Cooks Hush. She'd go out and build. It is been derided doing the same thing. It does. Bring up a very very mental image of Bowie in your position. Signup says the guitar band. Right Right Click on the fact that there's a funny toll thing at this moment. He said he was distant. Neil young that morning and then when he got the call about the baby he sat on recoup. I was wondering is there sort of Neil young thing too? I think there's a slight when smoking winsome sending some Steffi about love your stuff as you know after the goal rush your of your quarterback Neil young time when you big neely research like well like Neil young and listen to be stills Nash and young. He's the young Big Ryan. So he was your connects thinking with them. Yeah season new young. Let's get in that singer. Songwriter era was truly infamy and then went into Glam although there was always someone listening to me united matter. Weber's Glamoch hero this to me an. I wouldn't agree with me on this. Because said we talking before he wasn't a huge fan. Big Joe Lanigan. I referenced him because so many people whether it's Paul Weller. Whoever Elvis Costello they all point back to the Beatles being their inspiration and for me because I lived through that period. I kinda don't think bowie would have happened without the Beatles. I I might be wrong in the sense. That writing your own songs I'll maybe would have happened later. Maybe Bowie would have been the breakthrough rather than the Beatles about you know for this castle out of so for this from love me do two strawberry fields forever in four five years. I mean it was an amazing what readings that are not yet. What Ching that. Huge even in popular music led to so many other things but sadly David doesn't seem to have been inspired by by that but then so many stars who came afterwards would have been inspired by Bowie. Best Issue Bowie went from this masterful. Hunky DORY ALBUM. He went into Glam. He went into this apocalyptic doom rock of dogs. He does complete about face and becomes a Philadelphia. Soul boy on your Americans. Then he does station station then he does the Bourbon albums and and so on and so my generation with with that generation to Conan Tub. Growing up with that with that music and try to reach so I think that suspending Don't even have inspired lots of people pick topic. Tom But I will be sending a mile They were GONNA be planning to get on Sunday. Listening to this. Debate will stand in America. Costa buzzed at the beach. Boys some Gothic. We'll try to take this to a new level so that evolution was continuing and Osa pop music had become serious music said at times music critic who only ever reviewed Shostakovich. Brahms by Evan Reviewed Sergeant Pepperoni Band. Leonard Bernstein said. She's leaving was equal. Twenty three to Manila suddenly Alam us. Al Music me. I'm a teenager again. Back in the sixties was being taken seriously and the fact that happened. I think helped with that evenness ways. GonNa go a step further and that extraordinary journey that the Beatles waiting on route to sergeant pepper in the White Album Abbey Road and let great but it was rhapsody period. Also had we better that with Brian. Wilson I the pet sounds then heard revolver and went into fifty and then. Such pappas comes on captures the mood of sixty seven Glaus made what's the stymied Grace period was not sixties from the oldest sentence. He's eight now this stuff. That's coming out from from bands Drawing on the influence. Plus you got that by You WanNA stick with a dire straits. Greatest hits fine in stay there but if you WANNA move on this right. Joe Grown out there absolutely amazing aussies everything everything you pristine. Acquaintances just raised stuff happening. Still Very You keep an eye on what's happening. Yusuf I music. I love eleven. July pop music on no claws wattle ever spoken to pretentious about it pop music and it's It's life in Hans. It's wrap up with Dory is at any one song on the album that says it often takes you somewhere else changes. I suppose changes every time I hear a suffer. Thrill as it stops not gonNA listen to as many till you get sick or so. Sometimes you could never get sick of that. But I think he's the whole album. I loved the Andy Warhol thing from versed on my own. I loved Queen Bitch which America which Kinda took yeah and took him into the next album re engineer. One of my few regrets life is I wasn't in the House of Odeon when when he because that was kind of place where we were getting sick could make you know I could make it. When springsteen state was on Roy I'm blowing up the road in the city. Most helpful in sloughed so it wasn't impossible to get today but that would have been some some experience and so. I think it's the album as a whole. I think if you always be about any of our album I pick out one so from inside. That was absolutely brilliant Revolver for instance. I can sing. I've away sometimes stand out today. On hunky Dory hits the thing as a whole media was a remarkable record and you kind of think about changes without morphing into pretty things in morphing into logical MAS and moving into its peace peace and testing will Andreessen. Thank you so much. Stay for sharing your thoughts. Hunky-dory it's been an absolute pleasure to continue pleasure and best wishes with the book as well. Thank you very much. And that was Allen Johnson talking to me this summer about Hunky Dory and I really do hope he's inspired to become one of his memoirs. They're really amazing. Engrossing read so I just like to thank Allan for his time and to Caroline for organizing everything and Allen is actually current tourney came with readings from in my life details of which can be found at Allen Johnson books DOT CO DOT UK. So if he's coming to a town near you go check it out. He's a very very inst- any speaker in the meantime. I hope you enjoy this edition. As usual. Any FEEDBACK IS WELCOME. Most feedback anyway. My my egos still quite fragile class if you could share and recommend this podcast lights and if you didn't if you just keep quiet about it that would be wonderful. Thank you so till next time then listeners. All my loving darling I'll be true Tak- and we'll meet again shortly

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