I Wanna Be Yours, John Cooper Clarke

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

The soundtrack of your life often reflects the time when you were a teenager, when everything sears into the memory, embeds itself deep in the psyche and remains with you. Come my old age, my nursing home will have a very different soundtrack to the Hits of the Blitz that the grandparents favoured. For me it will be The Clash, The Slits, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees and of course, The Saints. Interspersed with the most unlikely offerings that came with the disco era. What can I say, the 70's and 80's were a weird, weird, gloriously outrageous, wonderfully fun, utterly ridiculous era.

In the middle of all that music there is, and has always been, the sound of John Cooper Clarke, whose rapid fire delivery of pointed, observational lines of simple gloriousness instilled in me a love of edgy performance poets. I do, however, credit 8 Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown with a renewed interest in Clarke's work, his performances on my favourite gameshow an instant audio reminder of the times of my youth. (Health Fanatic - look it up, the final stanza has always been in my head ...).

I WANNA BE YOURS is a memoir, covering his extraordinary life, from childhood through to parenthood, with people from his own family (so close to being a Beatles tribute group), to the time that 2-fifths of the Velvet Underground were living under his roof. There's the story behind the fashion, the stories behind the music, and the hard living, sex and drugs and rock'n'roll lifestyle, although to be honest the sex seemed somewhat less than the other two in this case.

Listening to this as an audio book was an excellent choice on my part, Clarke has the sort of voice stylings that are mandatory for the story of his own life. There's so much downplay and side cracking, and an audible honesty to the mistakes, the byways and the bad (and good) decisions he made. He's made lifelong friends, he's garnered legions of fans and he's made one hell of a life for himself, and I absolutely loved listening to I WANNA BE YOURS.

Year of Publication

Poet Laureate of Punk, fashion icon, TV and radio presenter, social and cultural commentator.

At 5' 11' (8 stone, 32 inch chest, 27 inch waist), in trademark suit jacket, skin-tight drainpipes and dark glasses, with jet-black back-combed hair and mouth full of gold teeth, John Cooper Clarke is instantly recognisable. As a writer his voice is equally unmistakable.

This memoir covers an extraordinary life, filled with remarkable personalities: from Nico to Chuck Berry, from all the great punks to Bernard Manning, and on to more recent fans and collaborators Alex Turner and Plan B. John also reveals his boggling encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th-century popular culture, from Baudelaire to Coronation Street. Inimitable and iconic, his book will be a joy for lifelong fans and for a whole new generation.

Review I Wanna Be Yours, John Cooper Clarke
Karen Chisholm
Thursday, December 3, 2020

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