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Baker's Dozen

Evidently Chicken Supreme: John Cooper Clarke's Favourite Songs
Alex Burrows , November 18th, 2020 11:32

Performance poet, style icon and broadcaster John Cooper Clarke tells Alex Burrows about his most-loved songs of all time and growing up during the birth of rock & roll. Portrait by Paul Wolfgang Webster.


Bunny Berigan – ‘I Can’t Get Started’
This is a great song. To be honest, I don’t think this is the best version of it; the singer has got quite an antique voice. Bunny Berigan is the trumpet player and bandleader, of course. But this song thematically inspired ‘The Luckiest Guy Alive’, the poem which gave its title to my last collection of poetry. The theme of that poem is that everything’s fantastic – but the only way is down. “The luckiest guy alive, just waiting for the trouble to arrive.” That’s the hook line after each verse. In other words, you can’t relax. Happiness, by its very nature, can’t be sustained, never mind pursued. There’s no point in the pursuit of happiness. It’s the one thing I take exception to with the late Thomas Jefferson; you can’t pursue happiness. You can’t catch it and put it in a cage. As I say in the book, happiness is the one target that you only have to aim at in order to miss. That’s the theme of the poem with the lyrics to ‘I Can’t Get Started’. “I’ve travelled the world in a plane/Settled revolutions in Spain/The North Pole I have charted/ Still I can’t get started with you.” The guy who’s got it all still can’t relax. It impinged on my writing career.