Panic!: Jimmy Savile, The Smiths & Synchronicity

The Jimmy Savile saga shows no sign of abating, though thankfully we’re seeing less of his leering mush on the front pages these days. Instead, headlines are filled with apparently-misidentified Lords, victims of abuse being made to apologise on air (as though they’d been formally introduced to their abuser, all those years ago), shedloads of public suspicion and the BBC tripping over its own trousers every chance it gets.

For some semblance of sanity in what’s fast becoming a cosmically inverted world, where do you go?

I usually put some music on and dive headlong into the most out-there conspiracy research available. I don’t do this looking for answers, but because I’m a big fan of the kinds of coincidences conspiracy types are accused of paying too much heed to. I was always told the devil’s in the detail, and I’ve never had reason to think those stark warnings were untrue. Besides which, when someone on the Icke / Savile thread mentioned that a Smiths song seems to correlate and resonate with the Jimmy Savile story and the national mood to an alarming extent, it felt distinctly unadventurous not to pull out the lyrics and fire up the video on Youtube.

Immersing yourself in the song, it turns out that the poster of the comment was right. The words seem to snag on to this precise moment in time, defining a mini-era, just as it stands at the moment. I’m not even a massive fan of The Smiths, but Panic – a song written in 1986 – makes my bones vibrate somewhat with its sudden, startling timelessness.

Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again ?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But Honey Pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down
To the safety of the town
But there’s Panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself

Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music they constantly play

On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog ’round
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ

Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ

It’s possible Morrissey – a child of the 60s – was party to rumours going around Northern England regarding the Leeds-based but always travelling Savile. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the witty and deep-thinking frontman of the band had cryptically alluded to the radio one DJ’s alleged depravity having picked up a little hearsay on the road. It seems like just the sort of cheeky penmanship he’s famed for.

It’s also possible that the references are all purely coincidence, though the specific references to ‘jogging’ – a pastime Savile made his own – and an unnamed character shadily slipping down ‘side-streets’ in Leeds, of all places, alongside that overriding sensation of panic make it feel so current that it’s bewildering. Even if the details are based on vague knowledge, the current perceived hysteria (most of it coming from the establishment itself) is nailed by the poetry.

Even the non-ardent fan has to admit that The Smiths occasionally touched genius and, with Panic, they must have really tapped in to some of the good stuff because the boys followed that inspired and precognitive moment of songwriting by arranging for a children’s chorus to back the song’s vicious final call, as though victims had formed a defiant mob against their attackers.

It all becomes quite unnerving when you notice that the song’s video contains children skipping, a Royal establishment crown hovering and rotating ominously and a single, groping hand walking around a ‘provincial town’.

Not to mention the photograph of what looks to be an institutional building being burned.

Then there’s that figure, kissing a skull as smoke rises forth from their mouths. If it wasn’t a cloaked reference to necrophilia, that last one, it sure feels like it now. Watch the video with current events in mind. It’s really sort of spooky.

Coincidence on that scale seems at least slightly phenomenal, to the extent that, at this point, we’re usually forced to split into two groups. Or three, for there is a third option. Firstly, you could say that Morrissey had some inside knowledge and that this led to a burst of inspiration. If that’s the case, it seems amazing that he packed so much info into the lyrics and the video. Surely, you have to wonder, some of it was a delightfully bizarre accident?

Secondly, you could say that every element is coincidence, that this is standard anti-establishment imagery and that we’re reading too much into a set of deliberately opaque lyrics from a poet known for provocation. But that would be mundane, materialist and tedious to the point that it’d leave us finishing up this post on a bit of a bum note.

Our third option is to don a defiantly less straightforward hat and ponder the role of Jungian synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence. It’s possible that Morrissey and Marr, whilst reaching out for inspiration, latched onto something profound and distilled that emotive mood into a 2 minute and 18 second pop song.

If you follow the concept of the external mind embedded in most mystical disciplines and out-there science – call it the Godhead, fields of morphic resonance, the Akashic Records or the good old fashioned ‘ether’ – then it’s quite possible that, in a moment of unknowing, gnostic revelation, Steven Patrick Morrissey channeled and funneled the mood of the nation in 2012 via a brain that was working at full force two and a half decades before time.

If reality is holographic – which there’s every chance it is – it seems possible that The Smiths consulted their muse and unwittingly grabbed a big-picture slice of the future, painting it as vividly as they could to the point that, 26 years later, it feels as though the song were written this morning. If a hologram is broken, so we’re told, even the smallest smithereen will continue to contain the whole image, like a fractal fragment. Perhaps, whilst in the midst of songwriting revelation, this band smashed the hologram of events in 2012 and managed to make their shard represent future current affairs in the most lucid manner achievable.

Brilliant hippy scientist and bane of the establishment, Terence McKenna once said ‘Rome falls nine times an hour’. If time is fractal, or holographic, or anything but linear as quantum physics seems to bear out, it’s not entirely unthinkable that we can seize future or past events whilst in a state of deep and meditative creativity. When we do that, our work will be loaded with poignant sychronocity. And maybe that’s just what’s gone on here.

“You can plunder the palace for five minutes… if you have the code. The code can be hacked… it permits magic”.

Or perhaps we’re overthinking it. Either way, it’s always worth rolling this tune out because it’s an absolute humdinger, and it also seems to say ‘something to us about our lives’, particularly at this very point in time.

Hang the DJ indeed. Perhaps, considering the state the Director General of the BBC’s in at the moment and with Savile currently rotting in an unmarked grave – we should change that acronym to ‘hang the DG’. Though we needn’t really bother. He’s doing a damn fine job of doing that himself… so let’s just watch the fireworks.



  1. JulieWinnieLawrence

    hmmm great thoughts there.. there are rumors about Morrisseys early life, and hints at abuse, he is said to have lost his virginity at 12yrs old: “It’s time that the tale were told/of how you took a child and made him old”. its always been implied that hes gay. wasnt he one of the Salford boys club? Savile lived in Salford too, with his chauffeur who has just been arrested coincidence? i dont believe in those. hang the DJ/DG however, yes indeedy!

  2. JulieWinnieLawrence,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=38093640&biw=1280&bih=583&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=salford+lads+club+address&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=salford+lads+club+address&hnear=salford+lads+club+address&cid=0,0,3150456869822016361&sa=X&ei=FYWeUMXPE-zP0AWe8IDgBg&ved=0CHoQ_BIwAA
    i hope this shows up as the search i did.. Broughton is where Savile and Teret lived and Salford Lads is only a few streets away.. nuff said.

  3. blackwatertown

    No doubt – Morrisey knew. Two rumours I’ve just made up. He’s being sued for covering it up. And that he’s in the running to be the new editor of Newsnight.

  4. .

    Yes, the song is remarkably prescient.

    I don’t believe that it was written as a critique of Radio 1’s prosaic playlist. That station has always played 99.9% garbage. Morrissey, having immersed himself in pop culture, would have always been aware of that.

    The lyrics are about a Jogging Leeds DJ.

    The video by Derek Jarman is incredibly rich in its germane symbolism.
    Yes, the hint of necrophilia, the crown, children and establishment buildings featuring too.

    Also, the images of the Houses Of Parliament, and of course ‘Big Ben’.

    The clock’s design is reputedly based on the imagery of an owl.

    At 1:23 in the video is an image similar to that of an eye, and very similar to the eyes of the owl, which are a feature of the clock-face of Big Ben when it’s illuminated at night.

      • .

        Yes, I believe it’s by Jarman.

        I was never into The Smiths much either, by the way, but always liked some of their songs.

        Incidentally, I saw someone mention on twitter the other day that this isn’t the first time that Morrissey’s lyrics have been interpreted as being somewhat prescient in their nature.

        If you Google search – ‘The Diana-Morrissey Phenomenon’,
        you’ll find a site which re-interprets the lyrics to The Queen Is Dead.

        For me, most of it’s just kind of reaching, to put it kindly.

        But some of it is quite bizarre.
        Especially in regards to ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.

  5. Dean Cavanagh

    It was a given in the North West that Savile was a predator to those who had eyes to see and ears to ear. The problem was his protection. I do not doubt for a second that a poet such as Morrisey was commenting. He never wasted a drop of ink in his writings. Dig deeper, good place to start is Headmasters Ritual from Meat Is Murder.

  6. Dean Cavanagh

    And of course The Smiths ((( Suffer Little Children ))) Oh Manchester, so much to answer for. Reel Around The Fountain. Actually in light of this synchronicity I can think of a whole host of others. Intriguing.

  7. cowanandthestupiddream

    Please feel free to reel them off as they come to you. I’m wandering down the rabbit-hole myself on this one. Intriguing stuff.

    I always meant to write something on the hidden story behind the Manic Street Preachers but I never got around to quantifying the rumours. It’s quite dark stuff.

    • .

      After watching that video I can see why you’d take it as a slur…

      But I think your article is pretty much on the money as far as Panic goes.

  8. lou

    Fascinating interpretation. What one can say is that morrissey has captured the zeitgeist of the time. The panic on the streets of grassmere, leeds, carlise etc brings me back to the fear and frustration i felt as a teenage girl in the north at the time the Yorkshire ripper was on the loose and everybody was terrified but at the same time you coudn’t admit it because otherwise you would never have been allowed out.And the radio one djs totally ignored this and any aspect of life that had the slightest inkling of relation to ones real life at the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s