In Earthbound, Paul Morley takes us down the Tube for a journey on the Bakerloo line, and ends up talking about a John Peel session by Can. ‘Can music remembered music from the future that had not happened yet: by remembering it, as though it was an ordinary thing to remember the future, they made it happen.’
There’s plenty on the experience of travelling underneath the city too, as well as working for the NME; possessing one of the first Sony Walkmans in London; and interviewing Mick Jagger and ‘punkishly, pompously telling [him] off for being too old, at thirty-seven, to be singing pop’.
The comparisons of Brian Eno’s music with Harry Beck’s London Underground map, then of Googling and using the Tube, are typically bravura Paul Morley, not so much spotting patterns as forcing the cultural world to bend itself to his vision of it.
If Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City felt at times like too much of that vision for an ever so slightly less pop-obsessed reader to cope with, then Earthbound’s focus and (relatively) contained and constrained subject matter make it an always engaging read.