Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lemmy: Metal Clarkson or existentialist hero?

Over Easter weekend, I read Lemmy's autobiography White Line Fever - a charity shop purchase, honest! If you've ever read any interview with Mr Motörhead, it's exactly what you'd expect: debauched, hypermasculine, brutally frank and narrow of vision.

It would be easy to write a blog post which catalogued all the accidental Partridge moments in this book.
I think that's what women like about horses - a being so strong that gives in without fighting back ... It won't do the washing up, but that's a small price to pay.
It would be just as easy to cast him as a Jeremy Clarkson figure when he writes things like this: 
In those days, we still had sissies, see. They weren't running the country like they are now.
But the book and the man deserve a (slightly) more rounded perspective. The former is at least a darn sight more entertaining than  Tony Iommi's, the last comparable book I read, probably because Iommi's art is his music, while Lemmy performs his life at least as much as his music.

The man, too, is more self-aware than his reputation (or the quotes above) might suggest. He genuinely likes women, and is a lot more live and let live on equality issues than otherwise.

He's also a self-made man in every sense of the word. After being fired from Hawkwind, he resolved to be master of his own future. Forming Motörhead, he painted his psychedelic amps black and moulded himself into an avatar of greasy, hard-living, toxic-blooded rock 'n' roll. 

And unlike many of the others who trod this path, this focus on a constant state of being rock 'n' roll hasn't been subsumed by the temptations on offer. Not has Lemmy fallen prey to the alternatives of pursuing a quiet life or elevating his music to capital-a Art.

There is only constant, forward momentum - to stop, to doubt, is to be un-Lemmy. And there's something curiously noble about this dedication, in spite of the fact I'd disagree with him about a lot of things.

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