Cover of Go West

John Peel

Monday, 27 February 2017

When I started planning Go West, I was playing a lot of old John Peel shows - transferred to mp3, they sound great on my iPod in the car. There is a slightly strange sensation in listening to recordings of live radio shows, which were once very much of the moment, and I know my love of them is as much nostalgia (I loved John Peel, his show, and the music he played) as anything else. But they are great shows: Peel's wit and bemused persona were a brilliant counter to the angry, strange and original music he liked to play. Even now, his theme music - Picking The Blues by Grinderswitch - makes me tense with anticipation.

I wondered if my narrator, Charlie Bread, might do the same - except instead of playing the downloads on a iPod, he might go transfer the shows back onto tape - faking authentic Peel cassettes in a kind of odd retro forgery. It certainly fit the theme of the book - fakery - and it also gave Charlie a travelling companion (just as in Jonathan Coe's brilliant The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, the female voice of the satnav accompanies Sim's lonely voyage).

I tried it. I liked it. And the jewel in the Peel Shows' crown - the annual Festive Fifty chart - gave me another idea

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Publication date: January 2019
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