April 9, 2007 – 1:33 am
Graham Fellows, aka Jilted John, was a bit of a one-hit wonder of the punk era. Punk novelty songs never really seemed quite right, but this one managed punk cred and was a bit of fun. It follows the story of John’s breakup with Julie, and his loss to the better looking, trendier Gordon.
The thing is, if you listened to music like this at that time, chances are you could empathise with John. For all the leather, sneer and scary studs of punk, by and large the participants in the scene were (and often still are) a nice bunch, a bit put upon, and prone to the odd bit of personal misfortune.
Jilted John is an exaggeration. He’s just a bit more hapless, a bit more petulant and a bit more hard done-by. And if you can’t take pleasure in other people’s misfortunes, whose can you?
Besides, by 1978, punk had flashed and burned — but even though it never really went away, it did learn to stop taking itself quite so seriously. At least some of the time.
Fellows is better known these days as John Shuttleworth. His low budget, made-on-a-laptop, filmfest circuit comedy documentary It’s Nice Up North had a similar feel to it — a hapless entertainer with a theory that the further north you go, the nicer people get.
I picked this record up on Saturday for 29p at the local Oxfam. Like most of the singles I find there, it’s a little bit scratchy and unloved. It’s nice to find this stuff a home – and it’s always good to have a rummage.