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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.