The Northern Punk Poet

When I was younger, I was a bit of a ‘Tumblr’ kid. I loved Alex Turner, angsty songs and winged eyeliner (honestly, not much has changed). Naturally, ‘AM’ by Arctic Monkeys was one of the main soundtracks to my teenage years, with the iconic ‘Do I Wanna Know’, ‘Arabella’ and of course ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ playing in my earphones in a melodramatic attempt to romanticise my train rides to school…  

For years, I did not know that ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ was a cover of a song by punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Embarrassingly, it was not until last year Spotify helped me make that discovery. 

 

The first time I listened to Clarke’s version I was hooked. This poem-turned-song is helpless in the best possible way. I found the droney, dry voice more real than Turner’s seductive cover of the song. Not only could I hear the lyrics, but I was feeling them too.  

 

One of the things that made me appreciate Clarke more is his background. Now considered the ‘Bard of Salford’ with poems encapsulating working-class Northern England, back in his younger years he didn’t believe a literary career was on the cards. Stating “It wasn’t on the menu for somebody like me to make a living out of literature…” Yet, he is now considered one of the coolest people in rock and poetry, with his iconic hairstyles, sell-out tour at 73 years old and classic British humour. 

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