What Became of the Likely Lads

Bands I Will Forever Lament That I Cannot See:

1)Elliott Smith
2)The Smiths
3)Jimi Hendrix
4)Neutral Milk Hotel
5)The Smashing Pumpkins

6)The Libertines

And that number six, that’s the most tragic one of them all.

The Libertines break my heart. They were a proper, solid, incredible, transcendent punk band when I first heard them in seventh grade and by the time I was buying their albums when I started ninth, they were all but dissolved. An absolutely awful hiccup of band tension between front men Pete Doherty and Carl Barât– drug use and unrivaled stupidity that deprived me of what would have been an incredible string of albums, concerts, and that rising feeling in my breast that only comes from listening to a band that is in the process of changing my life.

Doherty isn’t dead yet. So I will make the assumption that I would have had at least four more years of that feeling.

The Libertines thrashed and shook on record, yowled and harmonized and played their guitars too close together. Every live video, every music video, every photo shows two men standing arm to arm and singing mouth to mouth. I’ve never seen such a symbiotic music relationship before and don’t intend to ever experience a band like this again (no matter how hard an imitator might try.)

Voices that took me almost a year to tell a part, as if their vocal chords had climbed into one another, mixing unperturbedly and leaving me confused and exhilarated.

And then there was their words. The words that sang together at odd intervals, written about each other and barely veiled when spit. Sagas and tall tales and fully-formed poetic odysseys spiraling out the tip of Doherty’s pen and warbled and shouted out of their mush mouths. I used to scrawl their lyrics onto the space above my bed in the room that I used to sleep in. Words that, for lack of any better phrase, made me feel something. Made me feel something tangible and incredibly real, something I felt I could carve out of my chest and admire because it was such a beautiful, intricate thing. Something I struggle to explain. Something that nothing else makes me feel.

Listening to them now always brings on these awful fits of mourning the music that I could have had. The music that we all could have had. I personally consider them the best band of my own generation, snuffing themselves out before we listened to the best of what they could do.

Music that would have started riots and risen in the heart of every listener.
Music that would have caused change.
Music that would have made babies.
Music that I would listen to while I walked at odd hours in the night, feeling utterly alive.

I will never forgive them for that.

A little bit extra. When it comes to this band, I could write a book.

Here are snippets of songs that might convince someone that there is a reason to mourn. These are painstakingly chosen words by people who make rash decisions and manage to ruin perfect bands. It’s a treat to read them, so just imagine how incredible they are to listen to.

Slyly they whispered away
As I played the last post on the bugle
I heard them say
Oh that boy’s no different today
Except in every single way

-The Last Post on the Bugle

If you’ve lost your faith in love and music
Oh the end won’t be long
Because if it’s gone for you then I too may lose it
And that would be wrong

-The Good Old Days

Oh my words in your mouth
Are mumbled all about
You’re like a journalist
How you can cut and paste and twist
You’re awful

-Tell It To Your King

Well I’ve been sitting here for hour’s baby
Just chasing these words
Across the page

-My Waterloo

Please don’t get me wrong
See I forgive you with a song
We’ll call the Likely Lads
But if it’s left to you
I know exactly what you’d do
With all the dreams we had
Cause blood runs thicker, oh
We’re thick as thieves, you know
If it’s important to you
It’s important to me
I tried to make you see
But you don’t wanna know
You don’t want to know!

If you pipe all summer long
Then get forgiven in a song
Well that’s a touch, my lad

They sold the rights to all the wrongs
And when they knew you’d give me songs
Welcome back, I sang

-What Became of the Likely Lads


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