(John Squire, Time Changes Everything)
Maya Angelou's first work of literature, the autobiographical 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', reflects the essence of her struggle to overcome the restrictions that were placed upon her in a hostile environment. Writing with a twist of lyrical imagery combined with a touch of realism, the work explores her isolation and loneliness and the attributes of her character that helped her cope with the prejudices of society. Quite graphic in nature, the text deals with issues of childhood, rape, racism, and sexism.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
(Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
In a Melody Maker feature from 1989, The Stone Roses list 'The Fall' and 'A Happy Death' by Albert Camus among their reading material. Camus also was among Ian's reading material during his stay at Strangeway's prison. The existentialist topic of this first novel by Camus is the "will to happiness", the conscious creation of one's happiness, and the need of time (and money) to achieve this. The author draws from memories such as his job at the maritime commission in Algiers, his tuberculosis, and travels in Europe. It is the precursor to his most famous work, 'The Stranger', published in 1942.
Camus' last complete work of fiction is set in Amsterdam and consists of a series of monologues by the self-proclaimed "judge-penitent" Jean-Baptiste Clamence, as he reflects upon his life to a stranger. In what amounts to a confession, Clamence tells of his success as a wealthy Parisian defense lawyer who was highly respected by his colleagues; his crisis, and his ultimate "fall" from grace, which is meant to invoke, in secular terms, The Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. The post-punk band The Fall take their name from this novel.
The Naked Civil Servant is the first volume of autobiography by Quentin Crisp, which brought to the attention of the general public his defiant exhibitionism and longstanding refusal to conceal his homosexuality.
John Squire can be seen reading this Led Zeppelin biography in the bath in the first Love Spreads video.
An article in The Independent on 8th October 2004 lists this work among Ian Brown's reading material on colonialism. The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases), he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures, and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.
Just A Little Bit casts a critical eye on the social defeatism of those who do nothing with their lives ("You're too busy doing nothing"), in the context of Oliver Twist. The song is a stinging commentary on those in society who harbor a "poverty-as-romance" mentality.
"Hand after handout / Where's your self-respect ?" relates to a famous moment in the text, when Mr Bumble, a parish beadle, exclaims "Oliver Twist has asked for more !", at the boy's request for more food:
The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook's uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves behind him; the gruel was served out; and a long grace was said over the short commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:
'Please, sir, I want some more.'
The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.
'What !' said the master at length, in a faint voice.
'Please, sir,' replied Oliver, 'I want some more.'
The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.
The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,
'Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir ! Oliver Twist has asked for more !'
There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.
'For MORE !' said Mr. Limbkins. 'Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary ?'
'He did, sir,' replied Bumble.
'That boy will be hung,' said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 'I know that boy will be hung.'
(Oliver Twist, Chapter 2)
Desiring to get rid of Oliver, the board offers a sum of money to any person wishing to take on the boy as an apprentice. Mr Sowerberry, an undertaker employed by the parish, eventually takes Oliver into his service. After maltreatment, Oliver flees, and encounters Jack Dawkins (also known as the Artful Dodger), who leads him to London, to the lair of an elderly criminal trainer named Fagin. Oliver resides with Fagin and his gang of juvenile pickpockets for some time, naively unaware of their unlawful activities. The following verse of Just A Little Bit highlights the precarious relationship between these two new-found characters in Oliver's life:
(The Stone Roses, Just A Little Bit)
Fagin would often ask the Artful Dodger to 'dodge' for him (a dodge is a con or trick). The Artful Dodger is a pickpocket, so called for his skill and cunning in that respect. The leader of the gang of child criminals, Dodger likes to impress Oliver with stories and tricks ("Where's your magic now ?"). Oliver had been sleeping on the streets when he was found by the Artful Dodger. Upon arrival at Fagin's home, Fagin tells the Artful Dodger to run a bath for Oliver:
The Jew grinned; and, making a low obeisance to Oliver, took him by the hand, and hoped he should have the honour of his intimate acquaintance. Upon this, the young gentleman with the pipes came round him, and shook both his hands very hard - especially the one in which he held his little bundle. One young gentleman was very anxious to hang up his cap for him; and another was so obliging as to put his hands in his pockets, in order that, as he was very tired, he might not have the trouble of emptying them, himself, when he went to bed. These civilities would probably be extended much farther, but for a liberal exercise of the Jew's toasting-fork on the heads and shoulders of the affectionate youths who offered them.
'We are very glad to see you, Oliver, very,' said the Jew. 'Dodger, take off the sausages; and draw a tub near the fire for Oliver. Ah, you're a-staring at the pocket-handkerchiefs ! eh, my dear. There are a good many of 'em, ain't there ? We've just looked 'em out, ready for the wash; that's all, Oliver; that's all. Ha ! ha ! ha !'
(Oliver Twist, Chapter 8)
The above passage underlines how susceptible Fagin's underlings are to ruin; the fruits of Fagin's thievery feed, wash and clothe the Artful Dodger, Oliver and the others, and he could 'pull the plug' on them at any given time; none, not even his most aspiring pupil, the Artful Dodger, would escape the ensuing swirl into oblivion.
Oliver Twist is Dickens's tale of childhood innocence beset by evil, depicting the dark criminal underworld of London. An early example of the social novel, the book calls the public's attention to various contemporary ills, including child labour, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the presence of street children.
In an NME Q & A session from Christmas 1997, Ian Brown names Oliver! (1968) as his favourite Christmas film.
A number of John Squire artworks from 2006 are named after characters and dialogue from 'Stone Junction' by Jim Dodge.
He read omnivorously, stocking up on library books on the monthly trip to town.
'Shamus And The U-235' (oil on canvas on board, 47.5" x 35")
Shamus Malloy is the name of a character from the novel obsessed with Uranium (uranium-235).
'Her First Punch' (oil on canvas, 50" x 50")
The title of this work is from the following passage of the book:
"Sit down, slut," Sister Bernadette screamed, slamming the desktop with her open hands as she jumped to her feet. "I said sit down." Annalee, just under six feet tall and a little over 130 pounds, broke Sister Bernadette's jaw with her first punch, a roundhouse right with every bit of herself behind it.
'It's Your Best Shot At Sanity Man' (oil on canvas on board, 47.5" x 35.5")
This is from the following line of the book:
"Go back, man. It's your best shot at sanity."
'Annalee Faro Pearse' (pure pigment and plaster on canvas on board, 37.25" x 23.5")
Annalee Faro Pearse is the name of a character from the novel.
'Outlaws' (oil and pure pigment on canvas, 40" x 30") and 'Only Do Wrong When You Feel It's Right' (oil and pure pigment on canvas, 40" x 30")
The title of these two works derive from the following passage of the book:
"Outlaws," Smiling Jack said. "Not criminals: outlaws. My friend Volta says there's an important difference. Outlaws only do wrong when they feel it's right; criminals only feel right when they're doing wrong."
'Johnny Seven Moons And The Golden Gate' (oil on canvas on board, 29" x 24")
Johnny Seven Moons is the name of a character from the novel.
Stone Junction is the story of a boy, Daniel Pearse, on his journey to adulthood amid magic, mayhem and mysticism, all guided by a mysterious organisation named AMO, the Alliance of Magicians and Outlaws. A series of apprenticeships teaches Daniel meditation, safecracking, poker, and the art of becoming invisible. Opening with his mother's roundhouse right to a nun's jaw, the novel is a modern odyssey of one man's quest for knowledge and understanding in a world where revenge, betrayal, revolution, mind-bending chemicals, magic and murder are the norm.
Anne Frank was a European Jewish girl who wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany, but her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933, after the Nazis gained power in Germany. However, she and her family were trapped when the Nazi occupation extended into the Netherlands. As persecutions against the Jewish population increased, the family went into hiding in July 1942 in hidden rooms in her father Otto Frank's office building. After two years in hiding, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Seven months after her arrest, Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp within days of her sister, Margot Frank. Her father, Otto, the only survivor of the group, returned to Amsterdam after the war ended, to find that her diary had been saved and he subsequently acted to have it published. The diary, given to Anne Frank on her thirteenth birthday, chronicles her life from 12th June 1942 until 1st August 1944. It was eventually translated from its original Dutch into many languages and became one of the world's most widely read books.
"Probably Martin Luther King. I read 'Bearing The Cross', about the last three weeks of his life. He knew he was gonna die, he knew that in taking on the cause he would be a target. There's a story that he's sitting at the kitchen table and he asks God: "Why now, why now ?" because he has a vision that he's gonna get killed. In the last few days of his life, he and his family are being followed by the CIA and he knows he's gonna get taken out, it's just amazing. It's almost like the same story as Jesus. I can't think of anyone with that courage and how he did it all with a smile on his face. Now forty years later, his speeches can still make you cry or make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I wish there was another Martin Luther King about today and I bet I'm not alone."
(Ian Brown speaking to Channel 4 in 2005)
Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for biography, Bearing the Cross is a seminal examination of the civil rights activist. The author interviews all of King's closest surviving associates and creates a powerful portrait of the man, and movement for which he dedicated himself.
In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking attempts to explain a range of subjects in cosmology, including the Big Bang, black holes, light cones and superstring theory, to the nonspecialist reader. Ian Brown can be seen reading this work in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'. The book can also be seen in films such as 'Addams Family Values' (1993) and 'Donnie Darko' (2001).
A John Squire artwork from 2008, 'The Road to Serfdom', is named after a Friedrich Hayek book of that title. In the work, the Austrian-born economist and philosopher warns of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning, arguing that the abandonment of individualism, liberalism, and freedom inevitably leads to socialist or fascist oppression and tyranny, and the serfdom of the individual. Significantly, Hayek challenged the general view among British academics that fascism was a capitalist reaction against socialism, instead arguing that fascism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and the power of the state over the individual. The Road to Serfdom is among the most influential and popular expositions of classical liberalism and libertarianism, and has had a significant impact on twentieth century economic and political discourse.
(Ian Brown, Me And You Forever)
Ian Brown enquired specifically about this book in a London bookstore on Monday 8th January 2007. Mark Farley dealt with his enquiry, finding him a copy in the shop. Here is the synopsis for the book:
(John Squire, Cape Cod Morning)
Set in London in the 26th century, this dystopian novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, eugenics and hypnopaedia that combine to change society. The world it describes could also be a utopia, albeit an ironic one: Humanity is carefree, healthy and technologically advanced. Warfare and poverty have been eliminated and everyone is permanently happy. The irony is that all of these things have been achieved by eliminating many things people currently derive happiness from - family, cultural diversity, art, literature, science, religion and philosophy. It is also a hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use.
The lyric from Joe Louis, "How does it feel to be... Joe Louis ?" comes from 'The Doors of Perception' by Aldous Huxley. In this work, Huxley explores the idea that the human mind filters reality, partly because handling the details of all of the impressions and images coming in would be unbearable, partly because it has been taught to do so. He believes that psychotropic drugs can disable this filter, and open the "doors of perception". He observed that, when taking mescaline, everyday objects lose their functionality and suddenly exist "as such". Space and dimension become irrelevant, and perceptions seem to be enlarged and at times even overwhelming. Huxley was a pioneer of self-directed psychedelic drug use in a search for enlightenment, famously taking 100 micrograms of LSD as he lay dying. The title - Jim Morrison's inspiration for the name The Doors - comes from William Blake's 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell':
Blake's work describes the poet's visit to Hell, a literary device adopted from Dante's 'Inferno' and Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. It was composed in London between 1790 and 1793, in the period of radical foment and political conflict immediately after the French Revolution. Joe Louis has identifiable elements of both Dante's 'Inferno' and the French Revolution.
(John Squire, Home Sweet Home)
"Ishmael's whale" is from Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a novel often considered the epitome of American Romanticism. It is the story of the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship, Pequod, to find and destroy the eponymous white whale, driven by the obsessive Captain Ahab. The narrator's reflections, along with complex descriptions of the gruelling work of whaling, and personalities of his shipmates, are woven into a profound meditation on hubris, providence, nature, society, and the human struggle for meaning, happiness, and salvation. Ishmael is the name the narrator takes for himself (the opening line of the book - "Call me Ishmael" - is one of the most famous in American literature). A newcomer to whaling, Ishmael is, at the end of the novel, the only witness alive to tell the tale. "There she blows" is the traditional nautical hail of the lookout in a whaler when sighting the spouting water thrown up by a whale surfacing. Squire has taken this from chapter 47 of the novel:
(Herman Melville, Moby-Dick)
The Led Zeppelin instrumental 'Moby Dick' takes its name from the Melville novel.
In a Q & A session with a North-West paper (8th February 2000), Ian Brown mentioned this Thomas Pakenham book as being among his reading material in Strangeways prison. In this work, Pakenham details the frantic scramble among European great powers to secure effective control over the landmasses they had divided among themselves on paper. Still ruled by Africans in 1880 and barely explored, by 1902 five European powers (Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy) had grabbed almost the entire continent, establishing 30 new colonies and protectorates, spanning 10 million square miles of land.
J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban', the third in the Harry Potter series, was bedtime reading for Ian and his son Emilio. Ian is good friends with the movie's Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón, and this friendship led to his cameo appearance in the 2004 film adaption of the book. He appears as a wizard in The Leaky Cauldron, reading Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time'.
The name of Reni's band 'The Rub' is from Prince Hamlet's soliloquy in Act Three, Scene One of Shakespeare's Hamlet:
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act Three, Scene One)
The 'rub' is a problem or difficulty - in this case, to his committing suicide; the term comes from lawn bowling, where the 'rub' is any obstacle, usually uneven ground, that pushes the ball off course.
Ian Brown's Corpses In Their Mouths takes its name from a passage of this book. For information on the Situationist movement, see Bye Bye Badman.
Penguin launched its Decades series in April 2010, with five choice titles from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s reissued with new artwork. John Squire designed the 1980s selection, under the direction of Penguin's Jim Stoddart.
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