Our heroes, in our eyes, are invincible. They never die. We expect them to live forever. We expect them to always be around so we have their words as a safety net. We take what they give us for granted, at times. But we adore them. We love them. We cling. In love, lust, pain, life and death- we cling, and we hope.
Over a week has passed since Pete Shelley from Buzzcocks left this world and went elsewhere. Pete Shelley created the songs that I identified with as I hit an age where I was solidly uncomfortable with who I was, and ashamed of what I was. A gay kid growing up in a place that wasn’t the most welcoming towards my kind. It’s improved now, but in my mind- it’s always there in the back of my head when I go back. Certain songs by Buzzcocks were the soundtrack to my self-doubt, my self-hate. Myself. As I got older, and a little bit wiser- the songs took another meaning for me. Now, we are without Pete and I’m unsure what to do.
Buzzcocks were EASILY the best Punk band from the UK. They came from the greatest city in the world, and a city I am so proud to now call home- Manchester. Pete created songs that made you feel less alone as you fell into the cruel depths of unrequited lust and love. If he could get out from it- so could you. He was that best mate that you’d go down the pub with, and talk about these woes with. That’s how he made you feel. He made you feel less alone, and less strange for carrying these feelings around. His words were poetry. Words for the soul, words to mend the heart. Words to soothe the mind. His words came from a place that hit you right in the gut. For me, there is no denying that Pete Shelley was one of the greatest songwriters of all time- and criminally underrated. No one has ever written like him, and no one ever will. He had the ability to write about what hurts us in such a delicate and vital way. A proper poet.
I remember the first time I met my girlfriend. It was about 8 years ago. I wasn’t in the best place mentally, and I wasn’t the best person to her. I fell in love with her, but never let it on. She felt the same but I was a dickhead who was petrified of their own feelings, and in the process truly hurt someone I never meant to or wanted to hurt. Fortunately, I got my shit together and grew up, and we’ve been together now for 2 and a half years. But there was one line that stuck out more than anything. When she was with someone else, this line plagued my mind: “And if I start a commotion, I’ll only end up losing you and that’s worse.” If I spoke up sooner, I’d have saved us both from unnecessary hurt. But like I said, I’ve grown up and we’re both better now. These are the songs that find you, and you cannot help but cling to them. I clung on to that line for dear life. Things worked out though, finally.
A Different Kind Of Tension is my favourite song by Buzzcocks. I love the lyrics, and how they just show us how the world contradicts us and how expectations are always haunting us irrespective of our age and such. It’s a song that I hold very dear to me, and one I’ve used as a safety net many, many times.
It was the sheer tenderness and honesty that made me fall in love with Buzzcocks, and it is that same tenderness and honesty that made me love them even more as I got older. They were…are… a band that any and everyone can identify with. Their music was genderless, and I loved that about them. They made us gay kids feel so safe with their music, and they spoke of things that we couldn’t find the words for. We have so much to thank Buzzcocks and Pete for, we really do.
If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a lot of the bands we love and adore now. They changed everything. Not just for Manchester, not just for Punk, not just for us lost kids- but for everyone. The innocence and questioning in Pete’s lyrics, and the way he observed the world and portrayed what he saw was truly remarkable.
We cling, and we hope. Thank you, Pete x