Forgotten Treasure: Little Johnny Jewel “Television” (1975)
Much to the consternation of my friends, the government has recently decided to let me drive. It’s not that I’m a bad driver, in fact, I’ve pretty deft hand-eye coordination (something to which the few-remaining pedestrians of Liberty City can attest).
It’s just that, my temporary acquisition of a car over the summer for the first me, has introduced me to the pleasure of listening to music whilst driving. I’ve even taken a trip back to early 2000s, burning CDs on iTunes, so I can selfishly tailor my little, four-wheeled universe to my exact musical needs. Needless to say, this can prove to be a bit of distraction in the, clearly-designed-for-horses-not-for-cars, streets of London.Little Johnny Jewel - Television (19750
Television has featured prominently in my driving playlists. Their celebrated album “Marquee Moon” has aged magnificently; Tom Verlaine’s mercurial phrasing coupled with structures and chords so well-chosen they sound improvised, is a constant reminder of the oft-forgotten cathartic potential of the simple combination of guitars, drums, bass and vocals. This particular track, “Little Johnny Jewel”, which sometimes features as a bonus track on “Marquee Moon”, was in fact their first 12’’ single, released in 1975. With the unabashed, wide-eyed earnestness of a bunch of a high-schoolers in their drummer’s garage, and a phenomenal guitar solo by Richard Lloyd, this single catapulted Television onto the 1970s New York rock scene, and they’ve never really left since. “My little Johnny Jewel / Oh he’s so cool/ he has no decision/ he’s just tryna television”, I sing whilst struggling with the clutch and occasionally stalling on the way to pick up my dad’s dry-cleaning. I haven’t crashed yet, don’t worry. But with songs this good, it’s only a matter of time.