Doctorin’ The Joshua Tree Lineman (Chris)
I don’t believe in fate. For me there is no predetermined path, no pattern, no destiny. I believe existence is arbitrary, events determined by a combination of chance and free will.
But today has been a very odd day. A random series of happenings, entirely unconnected to each other and invisible to anyone but me and Live Fast, Die Young co-writer Joe, have conspired to make today the kind of day when you question whether life isn’t some sort of bizarre matrix which reaches down into your tiny existence from time to time and plays jokes on you. Just to spice things up a bit.
Some background. As – fingers crossed – you will read in the book when it comes out on 4 May (pre-order now for a 25% discount!), Joe and I are massive fans of The KLF. Without them – without Bill Drummond especially – the Live Fast quest would very likely not have happened. I won’t say much more than that here because I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the book, but suffice it to say that Drummond’s trademark grand gestures rubber-stamped our pointless peregrinations in a very powerful way. We were out both to prove him right and wrong at the same time.
In 1988 Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, then known by another of their aliases The Timelords, released a record called ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ (see video above). A cheesy but exhilarating mash-up of the Doctor Who theme music, Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock & Roll (Part Two)’ and ‘Blockbuster’ by The Sweet, it was described by the music press variously as ‘excruciating’ (Melody Maker), ‘rancid’ (Select) and ‘noxious’ (Sounds). It sold over a million copies and went straight to number one.
Their next hit was a book. The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) was as much a swipe at the music industry as a fascinating and revealing exposition of how to have a number one record. In the section on ‘plugging’ – radio promotion by record labels – they assert that being a BBC Radio 1 producer is the fastest way to lose touch with whatever finer qualities your soul once had. As Radio 1 producers we were keen to prove them wrong.
As you will also have gathered, Gram Parsons is a big part of Live Fast, Die Young too. Odd then, having written a book inspired in part by The Timelords and Gram Parsons (and incidentally containing a brief mention of Gavin Rossdale from Bush) to open The Sun newspaper today and see this …
… a picture of Gram Parsons, Doctor Who and Gavin Rossdale mapped over the Joshua Tree National Park and the southwestern United States. Seems Matt Smith, the latest incarnation of Doctor Who, is a fan of Gram Parsons – indeed woo’ed his current girlfriend Daisy Lowe by singing Gram songs to her – and they’ve gone on a pilgrimage (we was robbed!) to Joshua Tree to see where it all went on. While they’re there, Daisy is going to introduce Matt to her dad – one Gavin Rossdale (see the full article). Gobsmacked isn’t the word.
You may also know that Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ plays a big part in our story. Whilst surfing the internet this afternoon checking my KLF facts for this piece, I stumbled across a tune – Wichita Lineman Is A Song I Once Heard – I had completely forgotten about (and crikey is it beautiful):
Just. Too. Weird. Bill had found us again.
Oh, and today is Glen Campbell’s birthday. Happy birthday Glen. If you’re celebrating in Joshua Tree, having just received a Doctor Who DVD boxset and a Bush best of, please keep it to yourself. I’m not sure my fried brain could handle it.
Here’s our own video of the LA and Joshua Tree leg of the Live Fast, Die Young quest, cut to ‘What’s In A Name? (Genevieve) from the Missing Parsons album (for more on both book and band please visit Missing Parsons):