- 04 Jul 22
He Came From Sheffield, He Had A Thirst For Knowledge
Back in the glory days of Britpop it was pretty obvious that Jarvis Cocker was working from a wider frame of reference than the average Shed Sevener. And even when Pulp went into hiatus – after releasing the marvellous, Scott Walker-helmed We Love Life – Cocker’s wit was always welcome on either a chat show couch or in front of a radio microphone.
Any memoir then, would be worth a look and the gimmick here is the clearing out of a London loft – more a big press really – with each found object inspiring its own reminiscence. Kicking off with a picture of a decades-old chewing gum packet will give you some sort of idea what's going on and there's probably an essay to be spun about elevating the dead ordinary into the glorious, and his admirable disregard for notions of what constitutes 'low' and 'high' culture, which is sort of what Pulp achieved on the big hit that Jarvis merely alludes to between these covers, 'Common People'.
This, then, is a recounting of the things that made him, not the story of when he made it. Not for him the gallery of arm around celebrity mates photos, Cocker instead touches on his own sartorial style, the Sexy Laughs Fantastic Dirty Joke Book which helped the young man truly understand the nature of onanism, the importance of radio, a battery-operated Apollo 11, John Peel, the Yamaha PortaSound PS-400, and everything else under the sun, or in the press. All of these things have been creative fuel and he advises us to use the minutiae of our own lives in a similar fashion, for it is his “belief that all human beings have the creative gene within them” although hopefully it won't take falling out a window and a resultant stay in hospital, as it did for Cocker, to realise they've "been surrounded by inspiration all along."
Jarvis fears, at one juncture, that “investigating the foundations of my creative life could bring the whole edifice crashing down about my ears” but this seems unlikely and he proves excellent company throughout. A cup of tea with this capital chap of a man would be time well spent but this fine and funny book will do to be going on with.