Is Paul Weller a philistine because he’s stuck to his values ​​for so long?

I recently had to disagree with someone who called Paul Weller a square. Musically, of course, he was strongly oriented towards the traditional – but then he always did what he wanted: punk rock, pop, soul, house, psychedelia. Personally, at least to me, he always seemed like someone who is very open to impulses from all directions. And he continued to talk and drink like a working-class man while carrying a man’s handbag and his hipster hairdos becoming ever more elaborate.

On Wikipedia (itself a large bourgeois association), the definition of bourgeois is: “narrow-minded people (…) who are characterized by mental immobility, pronounced conformity to social norms and aversion to changes in their usual living environment”. Perhaps the most stuffy thing about Paul Weller is that he has eight children from four women, even if that sounds unconventional at first. Most of the time he opted for the classic provider marriage/partnership, but that should be his private problem
his (or that of his wives).

Musically, even as a teenager he was accused of being a reactionary and this criticism propelled him again and again to fantastic albums for decades. No small feat for a man who had created his first masterpiece so early. Paul Weller was twenty years old when All Mod Cons came out in 1978.

It was The Jam’s third album, and he had formed the band in 1972 at school in Woking. Right at the start, in the title song, he sings: “Artistic freedom, do what you want/ But just make sure that the money ain’t gone.” He was not a naïve person, despite growing up in the provinces. “All Mod Cons” is real estate agent acronym for “all modern conveniences,” and yes, Weller wanted the fame and fortune, but he also knew the price. “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)” is about exactly that: “To be someone must be a wonderful thing/ A famous footballer, a rock singer/ Or a big film star/ Yes, I think I would like that.” Having money and a lot of fans, “lots of girls to prove that I’m a man”, that would be something. In the further course of the two and a half minute song, the ex-star runs out of cocaine, the taxi and bodyguard are gone too. Only the memory remains.

It never got that far with Weller, he doesn’t tend to be nostalgic. Perhaps because he recognized his core and his competencies early on. On “All Mod Cons” he condemns the elitist workaholics, who are only interested in materialism and the preservation of vested interests (“Mr. Clean”), he braces himself against going under in the crowd (“In The Crowd”), leaves in the hip London Wardour Street – and concludes with the grandiose thriller “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight”, in which a man is beaten up by right-wing hooligans on the tube and then fears that they will visit his home and his wife. The song combines the dreams of the so-called little man with everyday brutality – and the conclusion can only be: We need a better, fairer, solidarity future!

The values ​​and wishes that Paul Weller translated into such concise songs on “All Mod Cons” still apply to him today – and that’s not stuffy, that’s consistent