Death and Celebrity Symposium

  • Martin Myers (Presented paper)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description of Activity

‘You can leave me on the shelf’: The death of The Fall and Mark E. Smith

The death of Mark E. Smith, lead singer of The Fall in January 2018 was largely anticipated by fans. It was also over-anticipated by the BBC who prematurely announced his passing the previous year on the singer’s 60th birthday. Both The Fall and Smith in particular navigated around and generated a succession of such moments of discomfort for 42 years. Myers (2010) argues The Fall have consistently reveled in the ambiguities and discomfort of the stranger (Simmel, 1971): simultaneously bound within a localised white, working class culture, geographically situated within a handful of streets and pubs in Prestwich; whilst producing an intelligent and literate counter-narrative to the ‘high’ culture of metropolitan elites that often dallied with the cultural production techniques of these same elites. Smith deployed these ambiguities in order to produce an unsettling, often antagonistic body of work. The death of Smith this year posed the question: what does the death of the stranger look like? This paper suggests that responses to Smith’s death have on occasion worked within the generative frameworks of The Fall’s own output; in particular the ‘weird’ quality identified by Fisher (2016) has materialised in some local DIY tributes. However, following the death, a new orthodoxy rapidly emerged in which The Fall were reframed less ambiguously, to be mistakenly consumed as another old punk cabaret act.

References

Fisher, M. (2016) The Weird and the Eerie. London: Repeater Books.

Myers, M. (2010). The Fall, Mark E. Smith and'The Stranger': ambiguity, objectivity and the transformative power of a band from elsewhere. In Mark E. Smith and The Fall: Art, music and politics. Routledge.

Simmel, G. 1971 On Individuality and Social Forms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Period6 Jun 2018
Event typeConference
LocationPortsmouth, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Keywords

  • The Fall
  • Mark E Smith
  • Simmel
  • Stranger
  • post-punk
  • weird