Paul Weller has never once glanced over his shoulder during his magnetic career. Instead, he’s remained focussed on the task at hand and can’t bear himself to take a trip down memory lane. Extraordinarily, Weller’s resistance to the past is so severe that he can’t even listen to his own music.
These contrasting eras of Weller mesh together to build an invigorating picture of a decorating career that has witnessed him constantly move with the times. In recent years, he has moved back into soul territory, and ‘The Modfather‘ has also dabbled in psychedelia, which couldn’t be further away from the angsty proto-punk that he made his name creating.
Weller can sniff out when something is on the brink of becoming stale and starts a new venture before he’s in danger of becoming yesterday’s news. This noted asset that he holds has kept his finger on the pulse. It’s also the reason why The Jam are so revered, splitting when they were on the top of their game.
Despite the numerous reunion offers in their millions that have been thrown in Weller’s direction since they parted ways, he’s never even contemplated getting the band back together. He simply doesn’t want to sing sets solely consisting of tracks he wrote in his early 20s, but it’s not just his material with The Jam that Weller gives the cold shoulder.
Speaking to NME in 2017, Weller was probed about the one song that he can no longer listen to, and rather than just naming a singular track; the former Style Council leader said his whole back catalogue. “Well I’ve been thinking about this question, but it would probably have to be most of my own songs really,” he confessed.
He continued: “There’s very few songs I’ve turned my back on over the course of time but I would find it really difficult to sit down and listen to any old albums of mine. They’re things I did then, and that’s where they stay for me really.
“It’s nice sometimes when I hear something unexpectedly on the radio, an old song from whatever era, that’s always nice, because you hear it in a different context. But generally I can’t really listen to my old records; I don’t know many artists who do really.”
If Weller started lauding himself for work that he did 40 years ago, then he’d worry his foot had gone off the gas and lost the progressive, forward-thinking mindset which helped him carve out these works of art in the first place.
Once an album is released, Weller hands its ownership over to his fans, as many artists do. When that day swings around, his attention glides towards whatever fresh is staring down at him from the barrel of the horizon.