When I wrote to Smash Hits

Published August 31, 2016

Like many of my generation I was an avid Smash Hits reader. Especially for me, as a Swede in my early teens, the tone of the writing was just about right: not as impenetrable as something like the NME, yet really good and informative interviews and reports. I bought the first issue in 1978 and then began subscribing in the summer of 1979.

But! Nothing's so good that it can't be improved, as I saw fit to point out in a letter that was published in the first Smash Hits issue of 1980. It's about the charts, you see, something that interested me a great deal back then.

The letter and the reply:

Letter to Smash Hits 01

Letter to Smash Hits 02

Their reply made quite a lot of sense, I have to admit, and there were in fact a number of very generous people who began sending me the charts. I didn't quite know how to handle that, I'm afraid, so the lack of responses in kind eventually put an end to all that. But at least I was published in Smash Hits!

P.S. As every Swede will know, the spelling of my address is a bit off. I got that from my dad who, when he was out on trips in the early Seventies, changed all the "ä" characters to "e". Naturally, the young and naïve me thought you had to do that so that foreign postal workers wouldn't be confused, when in fact they will only look at "SWEDEN" and not bother about the spelling of the rest of the address. I later asked him why he wrote it like that, and he said he wasn't aware that he'd done that. Thanks for making me look a fool in Smash Hits, dad!


1971 - Never A Dull Moment book review

Published August 10, 2016

In 1971 I was six years old and living in Sweden, so I didn't quite experience that year in the same way that David Hepworth did. While I was probably wondering if there was any way I could get to hear 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' more often than when it happened to be played on the radio, Hepworth was 21 and living in the UK, smack in the middle of the British music scene (or at least on its outskirts) and old enough to be fairly perceptive of what was going on there and in the United States. In his book 1971 - Never A Dull Moment, published earlier this year, he argues that 1971 was "rock's golden year": the year when the highest quota of important albums were released and when the seeds were sown for much of what has happened in the 45 years since then.

Whether you agree that this one year can actually carry all that weight on its tiny shoulders - Hepworth's counter-argument for anyone who might feel that other years were more important for them is, "There's an important difference in the case of me and 1971. The difference is this: I'm right" - is beside the point. The point is rather that this is a well-argued read that is never less than entertaining and that will encourage you to reconsider your views on popular music and our culture in general. In my book, if you excuse the pun, there is no higher recommendation. 1971 - Never A Dull Moment made me want to revisit music that I've listened to hundreds of times, and it made me want to seek out music that I've never heard before, so you can tick off that particular "music book recommendation" box as well.

Is 1971 the most important year in popular music? Well, I've long felt that the late 1960s and the early 1970s may be the only period when all the popular music genres were truly great at the same time, so I think Hepworth may be on to something. I know that Ram, released in 1971, is my favourite Paul McCartney album, so that must also count for something. On the other hand, since I know many readers of this review will be ardent ABBA fans, what did the four members have to offer this year? I'm afraid it was 'Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa' ("There's No Cure For That"), which doesn't much strengthen the case for 1971.

Anyway, as I've made clear in an earlier blog, I'm a David Hepworth fan, and if you're interested in popular music history but not interested in the same old tired opinions being re-hashed, you should read this book. Click the ordering links to the right.