So here I am, watching the Jam on YouTube when I probably should be doing something else.

And I come across two “Going Underground” takes. One of which I haven’t seen in 30-odd years.

I remember when “Going Underground” went straight to #1 in the UK, and Top of the Pops played its music video – promo video, really – but it was amazing, for the time…since music videos were, like, all kinds of new and shit…and I’d just bought the single – and hot damn, the cover was cool…holy fuck did they look like they meant business, in an oddly stylish and fashionable musical sort of way…

Now, know this about The Jam in general, and “Going Underground” in particular. No band…no song…will ever have that kind of impact on me again. You’re sixteen, you’re sort of kind of angry in an unfocussed kind of way…at something…plus, you have acne. Yeah. But all of a sudden, a song comes on, and it grabs you in the kind of cliched way it always seems to in the movies. But this is no movie. this is Baltonsborough, Somerset, and it’s the late 1970s, and it smells slightly of sheep, and EuroDisco is finally dead but you still can’t get Hillary Keating (A-Levels Biology class) to notice you if your life depended on it…which it obviously does…and…and…

And then a song comes along that defines you…no, re-defines you.

And you wonder why so many Dork Tower covers are Jam-influenced?

And the video played. I mean, my GOD, this was great. If I’d stared at the screen any more, my eyes would have bled. The band…the single…the performance…powerful…explosive…passionate…oddly stylish and fashionable…

This was the video

And then, next week, it was still #1. And I waited by the TV set, waiting to see My Personal God Paul Weller being uber-cool once more, and validating my 16 year-old existence, and re-playing that fucking awesome video…

…and instead, the Jam were lip-synching to a live crowd, and Paul was wearing a Campbell’s Soup apron backwards, looking kind of like a…well…twat.

This was the lip-synch performance

I didn’t know what to make of it.

I was flummoxed. Slightly…embarrassed, as my parents were watching as well…not realizing that the content was the same…more focussed on the packaging…

And that’s about the point I realized I’d never be one of the Cool Kids.

Still. Damn. It was awesome to be alive.

John

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