Should I have felt ashamed? Or, even worse: afraid? Afraid that at any moment the police would knock on the door and demand to search the premises, perhaps even to seize my possessions? And all because I couldn't resist listening to something that I'll never again hear on the radio. Regardless of what anybody actually thinks of the song itself it's just not going to get airplay... because once someone has done something despicable, their creative output has to be eradicated from all forms of public exposure too.
It's not that 'I Didn't Know
I Loved You ('Til I Saw You Rock'n'Roll)' was ever a
favourite of mine, but it was a song that my nine-year old self did
rather like. When it turned up on a CD in our local charity shop, I
had the desire to hear it again. That stomping glam rock rhythm had
me bouncing around in my chair and singing along. Mr SDS cheerfully
enlightened me to the fact that when he was at school the lyrics had
been memorably changed to, “I didn't know I loved you 'til I saw
your sausage roll” as well as the somewhat more unsavoury but
typically puerile version, “hairy hole”. Ahem. But I think
everybody I knew liked a little bit of Gary Glitter back in the day.
I recall walking down the road with my school-friends singing 'I
Love You Love' in unison, twirling our satchels theatrically,
then collapsing into giggles, the kind that made our chests ache and
our eyes stream. It was all so innocent, or so we thought. I certainly never fancied
GG, nor (thankfully) did I want him as a Fantasy Dad, but he could
sing a good, catchy, rebel-rousing tune and had a unique stage
presence that was hard to ignore.
I enjoyed the song yesterday. It was just a song. However, there
was something inside me that made me feel I shouldn't be listening to it.
Was it like some kind of guilt by association? Was it the fear that
if the neighbours were to hear Mr Gadd's distinctive vocals through
our wafer-thin walls, they would assume terrible things about us too?
Is that why it will never be included in a Top of the Pops repeat
or any other TV broadcast in which it might have featured? Although,
in a way, not to include it is a bit like trying to re-write
history. Acknowledging its existence isn't the same as condoning
his behaviour....but it seems that way somehow. There is also the
argument that a convicted criminal shouldn't be entitled to earn
further royalties, and that a radio station could lose revenue from
advertisers if it played something that could be considered
offensive. So is it just easier to pretend it didn't exist than to
have to explain or justify its inclusion?
Thinking about this reminded me of a blog post I read a while back
(unfortunately I can't remember where) in which the writer expressed
his personal dilemma at having loved a particular band's music for
years only to later discover that they supported far right politics.
It didn't stop him liking the songs he'd always liked but it made him
feel differently disposed towards them as a whole. His taste in music
was separate from his taste in politics, but they all get tangled up
together in this business, don't they? I guess the same could be
said about attitudes to many people in the public eye with a creative
output – authors, artists, comedians, actors – if we discover
that they're wife-beaters or racists or anything else that we're
repelled by, how do we then feel about the things they made, played
or did that we originally liked for very different reasons? Our
judgements feel tarnished, our integrity in doubt, yet they weren't made or based on the same grounds. I think there's an instinctive and
self-protective need to disconnect ourselves completely, even though
it is actually a denial of our intrinsic, personal taste in one relatively small aspect of life.
Anyway, I'm not a secret Gary Glitter fan. I just wanted to be
able to say that I listened to a song for nostalgic reasons and that
I was honest enough with myself to admit that I still liked it for
what it was. I was also honest enough with myself to admit that I
didn't know if I 'should' (and I hate that word 'should'!) So you'll understand why I've chosen not to include it here but, if you find you just can't help singing it in your head now, I recommend trying the 'sausage roll' lyric.