PiL’s John Lydon gives us a track-by-track rundown of his band’s new album ‘This Is PiL’, out May 28th.
‘This Is Pil’
We wanted to have a song that we could start not only our album with but our live shows with. We think we’ve got it with this song. This one will hopefully set you up for the journey we’re going to take. We had a great time recording this one. It is a statement of intent. This is who we are and you’ll better enjoy us!
What started out as a bit of fun in the studio became this song about wanting to readdress the balance in society. It’s about police, it’s about politicians and it’s about the Rupert Murdoch situation. All we need is one drop to readdress the balance. One drop and we can get it back on the good foot. We can change this whole sorry situation. It’s a timeless song and that’s why I sing: “We are the ageless/we are all teenagers“. We don’t get old, society makes us old.
This is many, many subjects and comes from many conversations we’ve had as a band. It is an amalgamation of all our opinions and we express that throughout the song. Happily, it all came together. Although we were messing about with it before heading into the studio, we recorded it together and we love the result. It’s full of joy that song and it’s got many messages and signals, but it’s basically telling you to be very careful who you listen to…lest they lead you astray.
Personal animosity! This is about how relationships can fester and lead you into all kinds of ridiculous rows where you end up saying things you don’t totally, truly believe. That’s what I call the Tera-Gate.
Oddly enough, it’s influenced by a thing called the shedding-gate, which is where sheep not only get fleeced but slaughtered. If you don’t conduct yourself properly with other human beings, that’s where you’ll end up. You’ll be sliced up.
Lyrics must create pictures in our heads and our songs are like movies; musical, literate movies. That is how we sort things out. Each song, including this, has its own little story. But this track is about where I get the inspiration to write songs.
As long as there are human beings on this planet, I’ll have a subject matter to write about.
It’s a song screaming out for some empathy. We can’t be thinking left wing or right wing any longer, because neither extreme works for people. There’s no common ground in the middle, it’s either all to the left or all to the right. That’s why most nations in the world, including England, are dying. It has all become nonsense. You’ve become a victim of a shitstem. But by the end of the song, I get to the point where I long for those balmy, summer days when I could be free from that sort of thinking.
‘It Said That’
That’s my direct opposition against the world of gossip and the whole conglomerate of unpleasantness. The song could be best summed up with this simple ideology: If someone approaches you and says, ‘don’t say I told you…but’, that’s the very person you shouldn’t be speaking to. Just turn away from that person. That’s manipulation and those kinds of people have an agenda.
I don’t like gossip, I find it destructive. It’s become a currency and that’s just wrong. British people find great joy in afflicting pain in others, that’s just not on.
‘The Room I Am In’
This is about drugs and council flats and the whole depressive nature of it all. It’s also about coming to terms with it and trying to clean yourself up. =It’s a very painful experience, I’ve known many people who have had to go through it and I’m also one of them.
No matter what hell you think you’re going through, you’re also in heaven because you’re alive. Heaven is on earth. Don’t let the bastards grind you down and make you think otherwise.
It’s basically the backdrop of my early youth and contains all the elements of music that were both confusing and wonderful to me. I used to hear Turkish folk music and Greek music blaring out of record stores in Finsbury Park, and it were thrilling to walk by them. There was one woman who’d play Jimi Hendrix and reggae music all day long. I grew up with all these fascinating, different sounds and this song is my understanding of it all.
It deals with relationship dependency and sadness. It deals with arguments and break-ups, but also about learning to forgive and admitting when you’re wrong. Sometimes you have to admit you’re wrong, even if you aren’t, because you have to have respect for the other person in the relationship. Don’t let pride lead you astray. There isn’t just one fool. We are all fools for arguing in the first place.
Reginald is a great Finsbury Park character. He came up with an expression years ago and it has always stuck with me. He said: ‘shine like a beacon’. When he first said it to me, I immediately thought, ‘this guy deserves a song written about him’. That expression alone deserves a song. It’s also about letting people back into your own personal Garden Of Eden; don’t be quick to judge.
‘Out Of The Woods’
This song is about the Battle of Chance’ville in the American civil war. It came about because I became very interested in the war and I got very annoyed to discover that the true history of America was being pushed aside for a sense of self-righteousness to take its place.
African Americans were definitely negated in that part of American history. I met a fella called Nelson Windbrush, who was a school teacher in Florida, and his great-grandfather was a black confederate soldier – a free man – who volunteered to join the confederate army.
That’s a black man’s history within American history, yet it causes so many problems when you raise it in conversation. This song ties in with all that. It’s very interesting.
Pick up a copy of this week’s NME to read our official verdict on PiL’s ‘This Is PiL’.