This is not the first time I have been moved to remark on, comment upon, snipe at, snark towards and generally mock Pete(r) Doherty. I don’t think anyone who knows me even a little would be surprised at my opinion of this particular character.
Having just watched the repeat of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, with the babyshambles Glastonbury performance as fresh in my mind as his laundry, I am moved to make a few more choice observations.
He’s not a dumb guy. I suspect that he’s well, if pretentiously, read. I’m sure he cares about his writing and his music. So far, so what?
Then again, he’s really not articulate. Whether this is because he’s inarticulate in person, or shy, or putting it on, or just out of his tree, I don’t know. Not for me to say. It does take me back to interviews I’ve seen with such fellows as Jim Morrison and Philip Lynott. There’s one of Philip, in fact, from about a month before he died, and only weeks/days before his hospitalisation. This was a man in the grip of a long-term and serious heroin addiction… yet there he is, charming and intelligent, and articulate. He doesn’t seem to be out of his head as he sits talking a good deal of sense about the state of heavy rock music in 1985 (“bland, very bland”).
Jim Morrison was a drunk and he took copious amounts of everything else. Dig around for tales of my sweetheart, the drunk, and you’ll find plenty. In none of them is he unintelligent or inarticulate, although he’s certainly stupid and/or cruel. In fact, at his worst, Jim Morrison could still string sentences together that most of us can’t even conceive of with a thesaurus and the Collected Works of WB Yeats in front of us. If I thought for one second that becoming an alcoholic would improve my writing, I’d be buying shares in Irish Distillers and Diageo. Yet there was Jim, roman candling his way through life and still sounding better than anyone else. With a handful of notable excreble exceptions in his repertoire, you understand.
Thing is, if Pete(r) can’t string a sentence together when he’s asked a question, why should I take anything he’s written or sings seriously?
It’s not that Pete(r) Doherty is caught up in the riptide of nonsense celebrity. It’s not that he’s followed around by minions and paparazzi alike. It’s that he’s just not really good enough. I’ve listened to the Libertines and I’ve listened to babyshambles, and I am once more moved to ask the following question:
Just what, pray tell, is the fuss about?
I keep being told ‘oh, he’s a great writer, he’s a poet, man!’ in that same way that mindless Doors fans do for Jim. Well, I ask then:
Prove it. Show me. Don’t just say it, provide me with documentary evidence. Give me lyrics, give me songs, give me anything to back this so-far unsubstantiated claim.
Perhaps he is a great writer, perhaps he is a poet after all. I personally doubt it, and unless he pulls his head out of whoever’s arse it is, he’s got little hope of becoming such.
During his interview tonight, there were little flashes here and there, proof that a quick sort of mind lurks under the Bambi ‘love me! love me’ eyes, proof that he just might have something going on after all. But they’re just flashes, and that’s not good enough!
Perhaps if you’ve only ever heard Take That and the Spice Girls, for people brought up on a diet of Cowellian, Watermanish tripe, Pete(r) Doherty is the Crown Prince of Brilliance… I don’t know, but I do know I’ve seen his type before. I saw him when his name was Jim, even when his name was Kurt, or Jimi, or Philip, or Arthur, or Brian. Rock has a habit of giving us these men with genius who waste it for whatever reason. Perhaps Peter is one of them, but for now, all I can see is someone who combines Jim Morrison’s vulnerability with the worst of his personality… and none of the rest – no era-defining or ageless songs, no genuine Establishment-bashing.
As far as I can see at the moment, it’s just a silly little boy following the big boys down the road. I’ve seen the end of the road. It’s not cool, it’s not pretty, it’s not great. It’s a waste. Whether he blows it all on drugs or on celebrity or self-delusion or on mental breakdown, it will be a waste. I’ve seen the end of the road, and you must believe me when I say that it breaks my heart a little bit more every day. The end of the road is a damp patch of dirt on foreign soil, far from the people you love. The end of the road is seedy, dirty, sad and pathetic. The end of the road is where heroes are torn down, humiliated and destroyed before they finally die.
The end of the road is the sound of a hundred thousand people crying out at once in grief-stricken agony, waiting and begging for the relief of pain that is sharpened by, not soothed, by the passage of time.
The end of the road isn’t death, it’s far worse. I should know – I’ve seen the end of Pete(r)’s road. I live on it.