Beasley Street- a punk poem by John Cooper Clarke
Far from crazy pavements –
The taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
On a dirty afternoon
Where the fecal germs of Mr Freud
Are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
In the case of Beasley Street
In the cheap seats where murder breeds
Somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don’t need
– a sneak preview of death
Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
On the edge of Beasley Street
Where the action isn’t
That’s where it is
State your position
In an X-certificate exercise
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
In a box on Beasley Street
From the boarding houses and the bedsits
Full of accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze
Wearing dead men’s overcoats
You can’t see their feet
A riff joint shuts – opens up
Right down on Beasley Street
Cars collide, colours clash
Disaster movie stuff
For a man with a Fu Manchu moustache
Revenge is not enough
There’s a dead canary on a swivel seat
There’s a rainbow in the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street
Silence is the code
Hot beneath the collar
An inspector calls
Where the perishing stink of squalor
Impregnates the walls
The rats have all got rickets
They spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on Beasley Street
The hipster and his hired hat
Drive a borrowed car
Yellow socks and a pink cravat
OAP, mother to be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shit-stoppered drains
And crocodile skis
Are seen on Beasley Street
The kingdom of the blind
A one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
The doorbells do not ring
A lightbulb bursts like a blister
The only form of heat
Here a fellow sells his sister
Down the river on Beasley Street
The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their common problem is
That they’re not someone else
The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can’t keep it neat
It’s a fully furnished dustbin,
Sixteen Beasley Street
Vince the ageing savage
Betrays no kind of life
But the smell of yesterday’s cabbage
And the ghost of last year’s wife
Through a constant haze
Of deodorant sprays
He says retreat
Alsations dog the dirty days
Down the middle of Beasley Street
People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
Every time they kiss.
It’s a sociologist’s paradise
Each day repeats
On easy, cheesy, greasy, queasy
Beastly Beasley Street
Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph
On a permanent Monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street
John Cooper Clarke shot to prominence in the 1970s as the original ‘people’s poet’.His unique poetry and delivery style was recorded and put to music by legendary producerMartin Hannett and a band of Mancunian stars, including Buzzcocks Peter Shelley and The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, masquerading as The Invisible Girls.
Seminal tracks such as Beasley St and Evidently Chickentown featured on the hit album Snap Crackle and Bop, one of 4 big selling original album releases in the late 70s and early 80s. They established John as one of the most prolific artists of the Punk years. The albums were big sellers worldwide and firmly placed John as a major talent. In 2015 Sony honoured JCC with a Book set, Anthologia, a CD and DVD collection of his entire live and recorded history, with tributes from amongst others Sir Paul McCartney and Kate Moss.
JCC’s early live shows were renowned occasions. He headlined gigs with support from many soon to be superstars, including Joy Division, New Order and Duran Duran. He himself featured as special guest on many shows by the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks and The Clash, as well as carving his own unique niche as a stand up poet.
His first poetry collection 10 Years in An Open Necked Shirt came out in the early 80s on Random House, featuring the lyrics to classic tracks from his albums and more original material. It is one of the biggest selling poetry books ever in the UK, Canada and Australasia.
Since then his career has spanned cultures, audiences, art forms and continents. These days he performs purely as a stand up solo poet. His unique poetry show has been
running in theatres and festivals worldwide for over 15 years.
John’s 2018 poetry collection The Luckiest Guy Alive (Picador/Macmillan). Features 30 new poems, including live favourites such as; I’ve Fallen In Love With My Wife, Beasley Boulevard and Get Back on Drugs you Fat F*ck.
Dr John Cooper Clarke’s long awaited 2019 autobiography, named after his most famous poem I Wanna Be Yours, published in Hardback by Macmillan, is a groundbreaking piece of literature. JCC goes into fascinating detail about his early life in Manchester leading up to punk superstardom, drug addiction and then the massive comeback as major poet he enjoys today. It will soon be reprinted for the 4th time and a soon to come paperback edition will see sales soaring again.
JCC is as relevant and vibrant as ever and his influence is just as visible in today’s pop culture. Aside from his trademark ‘look’ continuing to resonate with fashionistas young and old, and his poetry included on national curriculum syllabus, his effect on modern music has been huge. His influence can be heard within the keen social observations of the Arctic Monkeys, amongst many others. The Monkeys put the lyrics to Johns I Wanna Be Yours to their own music, on their worldwide smash, the genius A:M. JCC’s collaboration with Plan B, Ill Manors spawned a best selling soundtrack album and a hard hitting movie.The list of people who cite him as a major influence is endless.
John’s track, Evidently Chickentown, was used as the soundtrack over the credits of the penultimate episode of the hit TV show, and best selling ever DVD box set worldwide The Sopranos. He continues to feature on many British TV shows, with frequent appearances on 8 out of 10 Cats, Would I Lie To You, Pointless Celebs and Have I Got News For You, being particularly well received. Alongside his frequent BBC 6 Music shows they have opened up a whole new audience for him.
John’s own film company produced the hilarious documentary EVIDENTLY JOHN COOPER CLARKE which records and celebrates his life as a poet, revealing his significant influence on contemporaryculture over four decades. With a bevy of household names including Bill Bailey, Plan B, Steve Coogan,Kate Nash, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and cultural commentators Miranda Sawyer and Paul Morley, the film “Exposes the life behind one of Britain’s sharpest and most witty poets”. It was shown on The BBC many times and is still available on Johns online shop as a DVD.
His other film and TV shows include appearing as himself in the Joy Division Biopic Control, presenting a documentary on Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater in the BBC’s second series of The Secret Life of Books.
In July 2019 John was the well received guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. A fan of the show for 60 years, he described it as having “all the finality of a suicide note, without the actual obligation of topping yourself”. His book choice was Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans, his luxury item was a boulder of opium twice the size of his head and his favourite
track was “How Great Thou Art” by Elvis Presley. John was recently a participant in BBC’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
In July 2013, John was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts by Salford Uni, in “acknowledgement of a career which has spanned five decades, bringing poetry to non-traditional audiences and influencing musicians and comedians.” Upon receipt, Dr JCC commented: “Now I’m a doctor, finally my dream of opening a cosmetic surgery business can become a reality.”
His latest live show, touring across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada & Australasia, is a mix of classic verse, extraordinary new material, hilarious ponderings on modern life, good honest gags, riffs and chat – a chance to witness a living legend at the top of this game.