Thursday, 9 October 2014

The dawn of the communications revolution and Suzi is a Heartbreaker

22 days 19 hours and 27 minutes to go...

Suzi is a Heartbreaker

So Mr Strummer, I have complete control and in many ways that is great, but I am exhausted and I haven’t slept properly for three months.  I agonise over every detail of the Jenga Society release, knowing that for the most part, the main person that could let me down is me. (Not entirely true, I am relying on others but it is me who is managing them and trying to work out reasonable expectations of them).

Looking back, 1984 was a hectic year for the Neurotics, supporting the Miners in their Strike against the Empire and also a frustrating one. That was because after recording three tracks (Suzi is a Heartbreaker, Fools and When I Need You) for a new single, our label Razor decided that they were not going to release singles anymore. We felt that singles were vitally important to us and so we spent the good part of a year haranguing them to get our single released. They steadfastly refused, although they were happy to do an album with us.

Eventually we found out that Jungle Records was eager to sign us and by a miracle of co-operation, Razor gave us up (I suppose after their palms were crossed with silver) and we signed to Jungle. Then, the Suzi single came out on No Wonder Records distributed by Jungle. After that all subsequent releases were on Jungle.

This was our first release as a 12inch single (which as a format had just appeared and was getting very popular) which meant we could include all three tracks (although we also did a 7 inch with just two songs on (Suzi and Fools).

Suzi is a great piece of pop (of-course I think that) but the lyrics now seem so strange. I was exposed to the world of CB radio at that time (I never owned one but a friend of mine, Martin Brown did) and I was fascinated by what was, unknown to me then, the first wave of a communications revolution. It is incredible now to think that when you under took a journey in a car or any other form of transport that you were not contactable until you arrived and had found a landline. The idea that you could be contacted from home (if you had a CB radio installed in the car and one at your base) while you was traveling and could get traffic reports (among other things) live from other drivers on the road was revolutionary.
And so it was, as the huge riots that took place around the country in the Eighties, were often claimed to have been orchestrated with the aid of CB radio, which also made the technology seem dangerous and therefore it intrigued me sufficiently to write something about that.

The song is about virtual relationships and the distance that technology places between us and the real world. Online relationships of-course was going to continue en masse with the invention of mobile phones and then the Internet, which would blow CB radio into communications museums.

Interestingly though, the ability to communicate with other people (strangers, fellow travellers) on the same motorway in real time has not been replicated my mobiles or Internet.

So as I say, the lyrics to ’Suzi is a Heartbreaker’ seem pretty weird now, but in context of-course they are not.

Since posting this I have been make aware of a cover of 'Suzi is a Heartbreaker by the Beltones in which they have updated the lyrics to reflect modern communication channels such as email and web. Take a listen

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