Blog: Simon Morrison

Simon A Morrison previews the third Louder Than Words festival, celebrating music writing

Hero image

Louder Than Words is the only festival I know that examines that relationship between music and writing. The two forms are usually to be found canoodling under the sheets but no festival has ever explored that relationship, whether it’s Guy Garvey talking about the inspiration behind his lyrics, or authors such as myself talking about their music books and biographies. My central love is the relationship of words to music – how people use words to describe the music that moves them – so the festival always has an immediate appeal to me.

There is always too much to get around and properly see, but from a personal perspective highlights from the previous two festivals include the likes of Hugh Cornwell in the first year talking candidly about life in The Stranglers and finishing up by picking up his acoustic guitar and playing Golden Brown to an intimate room of happy people.

Last year, watching Edwyn Collins perform after only partially recovering from his stroke was really something. Garvey was great as well. There’s so many… Of course the spiritual guru of the festival is Wilko Johnson from Dr Feelgood.  Meeting Wilko was great.

It’s those more intimate moments that stick with you. Last year I had breakfast in the hotel with the writers Mark Ellen and Barney Hoskyns, which provided for some great laughs over a fry-up. Ellen said he and Tony Blair do talk about reforming their university band Ugly Rumours. It’s one thing hearing from your musical heroes – having a drink with them afterwards is unique.

There are mainly highlights this year – take a look through the programme and they come spilling out. As a Jam fan, I’m looking forward to Rick Buckler, but there are many other interesting ones – Pauline Black from The Selecter, Keith Levene from The Clash, Russell Senior from Pulp.

And then there’s the panels, which look at metal, The Who, Riot Grrrl and the club scene, as well as lots of workshops for people who want to break into the music industry. It’s an invaluable opportunity to get up and close and personal with the people who live this stuff 2/47.

I’m particularly looking forward – as always – to the club culture panel, which is the one I curate myself, as the club scene is what occupied something like a quarter of a century of my own life. We’ve previously had the likes of Luke Bainbridge (Shaun Ryder’s ghost writer), the blogger Jonty Skrufff, Sarah Champion, editor of the Disco Biscuits story collection, and DJ Graeme Park.

This time I have been lucky to secure a range of club culture writers and academics, from the editor of Mixmag, and two professors – Martin James and Hillegonda Rietveld, who is ex-Factory Records. We will kick around all aspects of club culture as well as that very slippery skill of actually writing about it.

That relationship between music and the written word – it’s a precarious business and it needs to be cherished. We live in a digital world where that relationship is sometimes compromised, cheapened. That is why Louder Than words is so special.

Writer and academic Simon A Morrison anchors the club culture panel of the third Louder Than Words festival at Manchester’s Palace Hotel, 13-15 November. Photo: Morrison (right) at last year’s club culture panel 

Interact: Responses to Blog: Simon Morrison

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.