This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #274: Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) by Buzzcocks.
When it come to bands that are under-rated, “Buzzcocks” can be found at, or near, the very top of the list. The contributions made by this band toward the launch the Punk Rock, Punk Pop, New Wave and Alternative Music movements cannot be understated. Yet, when one thinks of the seminal bands from those formative days of the Punk movement, you often hear of The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ramones, Dead Kennedys and so on. You have to go a long way before the name, “Buzzcocks” appears. But, this band was innovative in many important ways so, let’s take a long-overdue look at one of the most important bands in music history…..Buzzcocks.
Buzzcocks were formed in the late 1970s by singer/guitarist, Pete Shelley and singer, Peter Devoto. Like most Punk bands at the time, Buzzcocks played fast, loud, raw-sounding songs. Their biggest epiphany came when they caught a Sex Pistols show for the first time. The energy and passion exuded by The Sex Pistols electrified Shelley and Devoto, so much so, that they approached the band and asked if they would come to their hometown of Manchester, England and allow Buzzcocks to open for them. The Sex Pistols agreed and, after a few false starts, the concert went off. Buzzcocks gained some much-needed credibility as they began their career and The Sex Pistols were able to broaden their audience reach and prove that they were more than just a London-based band. In all, it was a win-win for both bands and proved to be indicative of the forward-thinking nature of Pete Shelley and Peter Devoto’s minds when it came to how they wished to approach their careers.
Right from the start, Buzzcocks separated themselves from other Punk bands by not writing songs that were steeped in themes of social justice and often, anarchy. Buzzcocks weren’t an overtly “angry” band. Instead, they opted to write Punk-calibre songs about lifestyle issues and, specifically, about relationships. Although they received some criticism from other Punk Bands for being “soft”, in their terms, Buzzcocks actually tapped into the Pop music scene for inspiration and, as such, they reached a whole other market of disaffected youth in the UK who wanted societal change but, who advocated for Love, not violence. Because of the popularity of songs such as “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), other bands such as “Joy Division”, “The Smiths” and, even a few decades later, “Radiohead”, were given permission to sing of Love and Heartbreak in their songs, too.
At a time when many Punk bands had difficulty getting airplay on radio and television and, as such, had difficulty promoting and selling their songs, Buzzcocks took a bold stance and actually started their own record label. By doing so, they were able to release songs/albums on their terms, regardless of the content of the song and without regard to commercial sales terms such as “marketability”. Buzzcocks slowly gained marketshare by writing and performing in a way that captured a segment of the listening audience that usually only heard of them by word of mouth, after hearing the buzz generated from their live shows. However, things changed with the release of “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” which became Buzzcocks biggest hit; reaching almost to the Top Ten charts in the UK and earning them a slot of the popular TV show, “Top of the Pops”. That TV appearance boosted their image and helped secure their place in modern music history as an important band.
One final thing that made “Buzzcocks” important and helped them carve a niche in the crowded Punk music scene was their take on sexuality. Not many Punk bands approached the topic of sexuality and relationships in any type of nuanced manner. With Buzzcocks, you had a lead singer (Pete Shelley) who was bisexual in his own life. As such, he approached the topic of relationships from the point of view that gender-specific terms were limiting the scope of romantic possibilities and, as such, when he wrote his own songs, he avoided using gender-specific pronouns as much as possible. The song, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” is a good case in point. That song was inspired by a line spoken in the musical, “Guys and Dolls”. The subject matter of the song was a man that Shelley had been living with for awhile. When you listen to the song, note that Shelley refers to himself and the other man using terms such as “me”, “us” and “we”. There is no “he” or “she” mentioned at all. In this way, Shelley was able to create songs that were inclusive, long before that sort of thing became the flavour of the day to do or the politically correct way to think and be.
Not long after helping to launch Buzzcocks and getting their first album released, Peter Devoto left the band to form a new band called, Magazine. Both Buzzcocks and Magazine ended up have long careers; interspersed with brief periods of hiatus and solo projects and lineup fluctuations. Pete Shelley passed away in 2018 but is remembered for his innovative and pioneering influences on artistic independence (owning his own label), blending Punk and Pop (to create a new hybrid sound that still resonates with audiences today) and maintaining a spotlight on the politics of sexuality and relationships and love, in all of its many manifestations. It is a worthy legacy for any musician but, one thing we haven’t spoken about was, could Buzzcocks actually play well? I will leave that determination up to you but, allow me to direct your attention to the drumming that you will hear when you listen to “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”. The song is about Love and Sex and Passion. As we know, drum beats are often used to symbolize heart beats. In this song, you will note that at the drumbeats double during each note during certain segments of the song to indicate an increased heart rate due to the passions being sung about in the song. Such attention to detail in their song construction is just one, final measure of the greatness of this band.
Buzzcocks may never have had the string of #1 hits that other bands had in their careers but, they played for decades with much musical and political integrity and intelligence and are deserving of any and all recognition they receive. So, without further delay, here are “Buzzcocks” and their biggest hit song, “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve” by Buzzcocks, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Buzzcocks, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting bands/artists regardless of musical genre. The link to their website can be found here.