(Post)punkklassieker du jour: Beasley Street

De vreemdse eend in de punkbijt was ongetwijfeld John Cooper Clarke. Een Bob Dylan lookalike die poëzie voordraagt associeer je niet meteen met “punk”.  Het is echter minder vreemd dan het lijkt, tenslotte zijn Richard Hell en Linton Kwesi Johnson in wezen ook dichters die hun poëzie van een muzikale achtergrond voorzien. Clarke’s bekendste song is “Chickentown”, maar dit is wat mij betreft zijn mooiste. Een desolaat portret van een vervallen Engelse binnenstad, waarbij tekst en muziek perfect samenvallen.

Far from crazy pavements
The taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
On a dirty afternoon

Where the fecal germs of Mr Freud
Are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
In the case of Beasley Street

In the cheap seats where murder breeds
Somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don’t need
A sneak preview of death

Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
On the edge of Beasley Street

Where the action isn’t
That’s where it is
State your position
Vacancies exist

In an X-certificate exercise
Ex-servicemen excrete
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
In a box on Beasley Street

From the boarding houses and the bedsits
Full of accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze

Wearing dead men’s overcoats
You can’t see their feet
A riff joint shuts opens up
Right down on Beasley Street

Cars collide, colors clash
Disaster movie stuff
For a man with a Fu Manchu mustache
Revenge is not enough

There’s a dead canary on a swivel seat
There’s a rainbow in the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street
Silence is the code

Hot beneath the collar
An inspector calls
Where the perishing stink of squalor
Impregnates the walls

The rats have all got rickets
They spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on Beasley Street

The hipster and his hired hat
Drive a borrowed car
Yellow socks and a pink cravat
Nothing la-di-dah

OAP, mother to be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shit-stoppered drains
And crocodile skis
Are seen on Beasley Street

The kingdom of the blind
A one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
The doorbells do not ring

A light bulb bursts like a blister
The only form of heat
Here a fellow sells his sister
Down the river on Beasley Street

The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their common problem is
That they’re not someone else

The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can’t keep it neat
It’s a fully furnished dustbin
Sixteen Beasley Street

Vince the aging savage
Betrays no kind of life
But the smell of yesterday’s cabbage
And the ghost of last year’s wife

Through a constant haze
Of deodorant sprays
He says retreat
Alsatians dog the dirty days
Down the middle of Beasley Street

People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
Every time they kiss

It’s a sociologist’s paradise
Each day repeats
On easy, cheesy, greasy, queasy
Beastly Beasley Street

Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph

On a permanent Monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street