The line of inspiration between The Beatles and The Jam’s leading man Paul Weller is a pretty straight, perfectly styled one. The Modfather, as he is so affectionately known, took the sartorial elegance of The Beatles, the bouncing rhythm of their rock and roll tunes and turned it on its head in the late seventies when he and The Jam broke into the punk scene. As the embers of punk rock lost their glow, Weller and the band moved off into a new direction capturing the hearts and minds of millions with their uniquely British sound.
For many, The Jam were the pulsating lifeblood of music. Using Weller’s incendiary lyrical structure and machine-gun delivery, the group transcended the punk scene and became national treasures. The band have provided countless moments of audience connection and a swell of emotion, confirming The Jam as integral pieces of the music scene. But, for Weller, it was The Beatles that first taught him about the magic of music.
“It’s really hard for me to pick one because I fucking love all of them,” said Weller when speaking to Quietus about his favourite Beatles album of all time. Though he eventually settled for the landmark LP Revolver, the first full-length record Weller ever bought was, in fact, Sgt. Pepper and, around this time, Weller was also introduced to the “magic” of music through another Fab Four release; John Lennon’s masterful ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’.
Weller spoke to The Guardian when he acknowledged the huge impact that the double A-Side had on him, stating: “This was the first time I had heard music that made me sit up and think, ‘This is something else.'” The songs have since been revered as an archetypal piece of the Lennon-McCartney iconography. Each artist provided one song, Lennon’s idyllic memories of his special place in Liverpool backed by Paul McCartney’s connected and realistic revision of taking a bus in the same city.
Of course, the songs aren’t completely drenched in realism and are doused with their fair share of kaleidoscopic drug references: “I was nine, so I didn’t know anything about psychedelic music or acid; it just sounded so different, so otherworldly. From then on, I lived and breathed music.” The songs encouraged Weller to make music a sincere part of his life, one that he would never turn his back on.
“I watched Top of the Pops every week,” he continued, “Playing air guitar in front of the TV. I would be on plastic guitar, and a mate would be on biscuit tins, drumming. That was it, really. Then my dad bought me a guitar at 12 and, at 14, I was playing gigs in working men’s clubs in Woking.” From there on, Weller would continue to find his perfectly crafted niche by mirroring the style of these two songs.
While the Modfather has always been expansive in his creative vision, it is easy to see how these tracks influenced his thinking. Both take the most universal of concepts: home, and transfer it into different spheres – different ends of the spectrum – eventually bringing it all back down to earth in the purest of ways. It is a trick that Weller has employed throughout most of his career.