Marc Bolan once shared the details of how he writes pop music
Marc Bolan remains seated within the pantheon of British music greats despite losing his life in such tragic circumstances, decades before his time in a car crash on 16th September 1977, just two weeks before his 30th birthday. However, what the visionary Bolan managed to achieve in the ten years in the limelight remains emblazoned in folklore thanks to his innate ability to write a pop classic.
What T. Rex conquered in their decade-long career will live forever in the history books. Along with David Bowie, the band helped put the glam rock movement on the map and went on to have a staggering run of eleven singles in the UK top ten, even scoring four number one hits. The band and Bolan’s stock had dropped slightly by 1977. However, they remained one of the most successful acts in the country, one who had a repertoire of material that was the stuff of legend. More importantly, Bolan still had that undeniably powerful presence that made him a one of a kind talent.
Bolan shared a close friendship with Bowie. It stretched way beyond professionalism and one deeply entrenched within their personal lives: “What I saw in Marc Bolan had nothing to do with strings or very high standards of artistry, what I saw in him was raw talent,” Bowie once commented. “I saw genius. I saw a potential rock star in Marc – right from the minute, the hour I met him.”
“He was the perfect pop star,” Elton John stated to The Guardian. “His songs were great, his records rocked, he had attitude, he had performing skills, he looked fabulous, he dressed the part. At a time when I was still becoming Elton John, he was a great role model. I thought: ‘This guy doesn’t give a fuck, he’s just being who he is and he’s loving every single minute of it.’ And that had a great effect on me.”
Bolan helped pop music become the behemoth that we know it as today. He camped it up and made catchy songs that were delectable three-minute slices of unadulterated bliss. His legacy speaks for itself, Bolan helped artists like Elton John feel free to be themselves. The refreshing attitude he encompassed inspired a generation and changed the culture in a positive, more open-minded direction.
In 1970, the T. Rex frontman gave a rare glimpse into his creative process and candidly shared how he writes such inviting pop music. “It’s like a worship for me to write, y’know because I don’t do it, it’s like I’m being used by melody as a being if you want,” Bolan initially animatedly notes.
Bolan then continues: “There are certain chords, there are magic mists within those chords. You play a c-major chord and I hear like 25 melodies and symphonies up here, I’ve just got to pull one out. It’s all there, there’s no strain. It just gushes out.”
The quotes prove that Bolan wasn’t your typical pop star. He was a mercurial talent that worked tremendously hard but, more importantly, he had this supernatural gift that made him able to create infectious melodies that were simply a cut above. It remains a stark tragedy that his life was so painfully short, but hearing Bolan speak it feels like he was sent on to earth to be a pop music messiah and the joy that his music has given millions still shines bright today.