John Peel. Heard hundreds of thousands of bands. Ten times as many songs. Influenced countless millions of listeners with his inimitable BBC show/sessions, etc.
So what was his all-time favourite song?
You would think it a tough question. Just one songs out of the millions? A single piece of music that was able to bend an ear that was permanently twisted. The answer and the explanation are amazingly simple.
It was 1978's adolescent punk anthem 'Teenage Kicks' by The Undertones.
The Derry Ireland outfit sent their debut EP to Peel back in 1978. Former lead singer Feargal Sharkey : "Our only hope was John Peel, and we sent him a copy - that was the only copy we sent anyone". Thanks in part to Peel's exposure, the song's repetitive, infectious chord structure, lyrics as honest and vulnerable as a horny, pubescent boy, and Sharkey's warbling vocal, the single made it to #73 on the UK charts, but for Peel it became an all-time #1.
When asked in 2001, just three years before his untimely death, Peel mused "I've never yet come up with an answer that pleased me much, falling back each time on: 'There's nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it.'
So pleased with the song was Peel, he requested the lyrics be engraved on his headstone,which was finally erected a few weeks ago at his grave in Suffolk, GB.
John Peel may be gone but punk's not dead.
I'm just sayin'.
MP3: Undertones-Teenage Kicks
MP3: Nouvelle Vague-Teenage Kicks