Peter Hammill - If I Could / The Future Now 7" (1978)

The punk era was a difficult turn for almost all artists in activity. Strangely, it should have not been so hard for Peter Hammill since he was one of the rares to be spared by the "all past music was rubbish" attitude we had (I count me in). Even Johnny Rotten said his admiration for Peter Hammill as soon as 1977. With the Stooges, SAHB and Marc Bolan, Hammill was not sent to the vaults when punk emerged. But apparently he was not so happy about this movement, at least that's what we can see when reading his lyrics in his album The Future Now (notably "Pushing Thirty"). This single had no chance to make him adopted by the punk and new wave audience since the A-side belongs to the full of pathos ballad style that Peter Hammill was so often assimilated to. A beautiful song anyway. And it's very interesting as Hammill seems to have hardened his soul toward sentimentality when you compare the rather cold and pragmatic lyrics of this song compared to the over-romantic ones of "The Side Of The Looking Glass". On the B-side, "The Future Now" sould have been chosen as a A-side. And its text is one of this most political, as vivid in 1978 as it is still today. I hesitated to add this single to the collection since there is no unreleased song or alternate version on it, and moreover because it was only released in Canada. But it fits well in the series of singles and I decided to integrate it. Catch it here.

The Future Now. Here we are, static in the latter half Of the twentieth century But it might as well be the Middle Ages, There'll have to be some changes But how they'll come about foxes me. I want the future now, I want to hold it in my hands; All men equal and unbowed, I want the Promised Land. But that doesn't seem to get any closer, And Moses has had his day... The tablets of law are an advertising poster, Civilisation here to stay And this is progress? You must be joking! Me, I'm looking for any kind of hope. I want the future now, I want to see it on the screen, I want to break the bounds That make our lives so mean. Oh, blind, blinded, blinding hatred Of race, sex, religion, colour, country and creed, These scream from the pages of everything I read. You just bring me oppression and torture, Apartheid, corruption and plague; You just bring me the rape of the planet And joke world rights at the Hague. Oh, someday the Millennium! But how far is someday away? I want the future now I'm young, and it's my right. I want a reason to be proud. I want to see the light. I want the future now, I want to see it on the screen, I want to break the bounds: Make life worth more than dreams. Yeah, wake up the planet!

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