Monday, June 13, 2016

100 Mavericks # 64 Stuart Murdoch

Starting here, with one of the avatars of Twee. All this stuff is almost formalised to the point of cliche now but it's incredible looking back twenty years or now to see how fully formed Belle & Sebastian were in terms of their vision when they first appeared. Songs and lifestyle options for the awkward and shy who had been temporarily abandoned for a few years when The Smiths split. Here's a passage from Twee which I posted about just below this on the subject of Murdoch.

'Handsome pale and vastly talented, Murdoch is a Gen Twee icon and one of those courageous,  sensitive, perhaps too-smart figures we will chronicle farther along in these pages. In the mid-1990s the Glaswegian dreamer was recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome and had to drop out of school and literally move back into his childhood bedroom. 'When you're down and out what you want is escapism,' Murdoch told Fresh Air host Terry Gross in 2005. 'At the period of time there was a core of groups that I listened to that took me somewhere else. And then I got into certain filmmakers as well. But then there  reached a point where I wanted more escapism and more fantasy, and that's when I started to invent it for myself.'

He more than anyone else in music nailed this perspective and way of looking at life from a permanently introspective, outsider slant. Actually, highly organised and efficient, despite their apparent, wilful amateurism and also highly successful in terms of reaching out to the people they wanted to.  When I went to New York in 2001 it was clear from just walking around the arty/ indie parts of the city that Belle & Sebastian were the band, articulating something that so many young hipsters wanted to buy into in terms of their lifestyle choices. They were a band that people had been waiting for, almost without knowing it. They chimed with their times.  

Murdoch and Belle have charted out a stately and sustained career that belies their definitive weakness of their music. They're actually quite steely and determined. Murdoch distilled all that was great about Love, The Left Banke the quieter Velvet Underground, Orange Juice, Felt and The Smiths and the iconography associated with them all and the band ran with it over countless wonderful albums and singles over the next two decades.  Murdoch was always at the very core of things. The maverick with a Protestant work ethic *. 

*I can't actually verify that Murdoch's a Protestant but his Christian beliefs are fairly well documented.

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