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Sunday, December 16, 2012

John Lennon, Smash Hits and the lost art of putting pen to paper

I've been looking at The John Lennon Letters app on the iPad. It's quite charming. Most of the time he's a lot warmer with a pen in his hand, apologising to a chauffeur he's had to let go, writing to Ringo from Rishikesh enthusing about the number of new songs he's written, keeping in touch with his many relations and even (left) his mates in the press.

I don't expect the march of musical history to turn up any similar treasures. The kind of sentiments that could be scribbled on a postcard are now likely to be sent as a text. Their tone will be entirely different.

Contributing to a Radio 4 programme about Smash Hits which is broadcast on Thursday I was reflecting once again on the thing that most amazes me about that whole phenomenon. It's the fact that every night in the eighties thousands of 14-year-olds sat down with their Friends Forever notepaper and their multi-coloured pens to scratch out letters to us at Smash Hits and, they hoped, to the fabulous pop world beyond. That's another world.


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  2. I'm always wide eyed about how much of this high profile, hand written, publicly posted memorabilia - actually arrived at its destination rather than being pocketed by a rogue postman or office clerk

  3. I went to the British library the other week to see the scroll Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road on. I mused at the time would it have been the same going to see his iPad?

  4. In 1987, when George Harrison was enjoying his big hit "Got My Mind Set On You" - having not troubled the scorers at the BMRB for some years - I received a letter at Smash Hits from Chloe (age 8). She explained how much she liked George's record and wondered if he had ever made any before.

  5. There are times when I think "not having troubled the scorers" is my favourite English phrase.

  6. Excuse me if I'm going mad, but what happened to the post about DJing?