By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
I’ve always suspected Jarvis Cocker (above) to be a man, if not of wealth and taste, then of style and taste. Proof positive came in the form of his Sunday afternoon show yesterday on BBC Radio 6 Music, the second hour of which the Pulp singer devoted to Iggy Pop, or “Mr James Osterberg” as he mock-archly called him, in that inimitable Sheffield drone. This was reason enough, on a beautiful spring afternoon, to stay in and do the ironing.
The reason for the tribute? Cocker is taking a long sabbatical and handing the cans over to Iggy Pop for the next few months. Cocker is clearly thrilled at the succession, never more so than when he spoke to his stand-in on a dodgy phone line to Miami (“how’s the weather over there?” etc).
Mr Cocker confessed to being in awe of Mr Osterberg. He even at one point talked of the “genius of Iggy Pop”. Going too far? I don’t think so. If one definition of artistic genius is the ability to take the art form in question in new directions then Iggy Pop qualifies. With his brilliant band The Stooges, Pop redefined rock and roll and paved the way for punk rock – not for nothing is he regularly called “the godfather of punk”.
I confess that this is not the first time I’ve blogged about Iggy Pop. And what has any of this to do with literature, you ask? Well, as respondents to that earlier post revealed, Iggy Pop can count Michel Houellebecq among his admirers and, as we were also reminded, he composed a charming short essay about Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.
Cocker took us breezily through Iggy and the Stooges’ career with contributions from David Bowie (who referred to Pop as “Jim”) and Johnny Marr of the Smiths, who rates Raw Power (1973) the one album he could not do without. Good choice: it is so much more than 34 minutes of demented brilliance after all.
I hadn’t realized until yesterday that Pop provided backing vocals on one of David Bowie’s Berlin albums, Low. The Bowie–Pop Berlin collaboration was of course very fruitful, yielding The Idiot and Lust for Life, some of Pop's finest work (and Bowie, who knew a good thing when he saw one, incidentally also produced Raw Power). I had also forgotten that the song “Lust for Life”, as well as being used to such good effect in Danny Boyle’s film of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, made an earlier appearance in the 1980s film Desperately Seeking Susan with Madonna. And I hadn't before heard his beautiful rendition of the John Barry song "All the Time in the World", or his collaboration with the French chanteuse Françoise Hardy.
And Iggy Pop, who has always struck me as being essentially without ego, declared himself thrilled to be taking over the show. Any ideas as to what he'll choose to play?