The Infinite Jukebox: The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve?)’

There’s a case for featuring practically every single by The Buzzcocks on The Infinite Jukebox (the blog series, that is: practically every Buzzcocks single is on the Infinite Jukebox in my head), but despite my abiding love for ‘I Don’t Mind’, it is the band’s fifth single and it’s biggest hit that means the most to me, for a variety of reasons.
Ever since I first discovered music, in 1970, I’ve always had a favourite band or singer. Four times, that’s been a Manchester band. I first discovered The Buzzcocks just before I swapped the punk hotspot of Manchester for the punk-hating environs of Nottingham for two years. It was born of a late-evening recording of their second single, ‘What do I get?’ off Piccadilly Radio. It was the last to feature bassist Garth, before Steve ‘Paddy’ Garvey completed the classic line-up. I loved it from the off: I was losing my original antipathy towards punk the more I heard of it, drawn by the energy and simplicity of the music, its rawness, and The Buzzcocks were a sharper, more precise version of that, bringing back into the rush and tumble the element of melody that was the Sixties’ gift to all time.
An Articled Clerk – i.e., a Trainee Solicitor – who was a punk music fan, and open about it in the office. I remember debates about music, especially about ‘Love You More’, notorious for its brevity, and our student ‘Madrigals’ (her surname was Bell and she sang them) telling me she understood what they were trying to do but that it didn’t work, an opinion I disagreed with in a most patronising manner.
Then one night I’d gotten home, turned on the radio (Radio Trent, probably) and they announced the new Buzzcocks single. And I jumped for the tape recorder (reel-to-reel: my Dad had been an enthusiast and under his influence I was a late and reluctant adopter of cassettes) to capture it, and stayed in the corner, squatting, listening as it poured out. Steve Diggle’s riff and line, John Maher’s didactic drums, leading into Pete Shelley’s falsetto yawp. You disturb my natural emotions, you make me feel I’m dirt, and I’m hurt.
For most bands, for their most commercial single, that would have led into a second line, but the flow was disrupted, the evenness shattered by Diggle and Maher, repeating that sequence from the intro. And if I start a commotion, I’ll only end up losing you, and that’s worse. Then Diggle/Maher again and then this soaring, gorgeous, free-flowing, expansive chorus lifting the roof of, the title line, folding into and out of itself, so utterly compelling that, to my astonishment, when it came round the next time, I joined in, in my toneless tones, the record not having finished and my not having played it back a half dozen times yet, but before the song had even finished. That had never happened before.
Of course, the problem with the singles that grab you immediately is that they’re usually the ones you tire of first, and don’t want to hear again, because they often have nothing more than immediacy, but not so ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)’, not so even for forty years.
I remember the song for that immediacy, and I remember it for its title. It was the first of that trilogy of personal anthems that I carried around with me for a decade, along with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and that one-off Feargal Sharkey and Vince Clarke record as The Assembly, ‘Never Never’ (it never happens to me…). Ever Fallen in Love with Someone you shouldn’t have? Too bloody often and every time.
I remember it for being the single that, after two that had sneaked into the top 40, was the big one, big as in reaching no 13 in the autumn charts, and getting the band onto Top of the Pops more than once. It was the breakthrough, but The Buzcocks would only reach the top 20 once more, with the follow-up, ‘Promises’, and that only just made no 20, at Xmas.
And I remember it for being in Nottingham, in exile in more senses than one, including musically: alone but responsible for myself for the first time. Things like this song, and the fact it had gotten into the charts, was being played on the radio, were victories, victories for a cause that was the greatest fun time in music I ever had, the going-to-be-Solicitor who looked nothing like a punk yet who championed the music and roared on every moment that ‘we’ broke through and ‘you’ had to listen and to admit our music cut it.
The Buzzcocks, with Shelley leaking melody wherever he went, were our scalpel, their music a knife-edge of frustrated romance and realistic emotion, and ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have?)’ was the far too late warning for someone who had and who still remembers fondly and who is still drawn into carolling that chorus, even though my voice is not just toneless but cracked and broken. And the music still has a life that belied my best mate of then’s dismissive warning that no-one would remember The Buzzcocks in ten year’s time.
(The above essay was written before Pete Shelley’s recent death).

7 thoughts on “The Infinite Jukebox: The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve?)’

  1. Beautifully expressed. Ever Fallen in Love is quite possibly the perfect pop song, up there with The Who’s Substitute and The Beatles’ She Said, She Said. On any given day my top ten will be different, but it will always include this.

  2. Though I picked out Ever Fallen in Love for the above reasons, if ordered at gunpoint to make a choice of just one Buzzcocks single, I’d have to go for I Don’t Mind. There’s a deliberate stutteriness to the verses of Ever Fallen in Love that’s deliberate in contrast to the chorus line, but I Don’t Mind is seamless (and it’s got the best ooh-oohs Diggle sang). The choice is bloody difficult, mind you.

  3. And in a completely different mode, I treasure Moving Away From the Pulsebeat. And Walking Distance. And the Peel Session version of Late for the Train. And…

  4. …Orgasm Addict, perhaps, or the sardonic Psychedelia of Everybody’s Happy Nowadays. An embarrassment of riches to be sure.

    Years ago I used to contribute to Paint It Red, a north east listings and entertainment guide. I interviewed a few of my heroes, but always over the phone… with one exception— not Pete Shelley, sadly, but Bob Mould of Husker Du and by then, Sugar. I asked him who his guitar heroes were. He said Richard Thompson, which I was expecting, but in the same breath, he said, “Shelley and Diggle”. He reckoned their simplicity and interplay had never been bettered. I thought he was right. Still do.

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