HIT ME! - the Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury
by Jeff Merrifield
He was commonly regarded as diamond geezer or national treasure, yet he was somewhat harder towards his friends and musical colleagues. This play scratches the surface of the Dury persona, revealing a flawed genius with a heart of gold and an ego to match. Set in specific locations and in discourse with his minder and road manager, Spider Rowe, we find what lay behind those magnificent songs, so unique, so insightful and so loved by so many.
HIT ME! explores three periods in the life of Ian Dury, the man at the top of his game, the man who nearly blew it and the man who gave his best in everything. In all these three periods his great lyrical dexterity was always to the forefront and never deserted him. His early demise no doubt robbed us of many more works of sheer joy and richness, yet he did leave a vast treasury of songs that will bear fruit over time.
“We were gigging night after night and I had a kind of manic energy,” says Ian, “but your reserves of energy do get depleted, especially when you act out some of the songs. Then it all gets a bit freaky. From being a 36-year-old struggling, angry, but quite happy and well-balanced lunatic, to being a successful lunatic, meant that the safety net had gone. The safety net is the struggle, it’s a kind of reassurance. Those emotions like hatred, jealousy and despair are tangible.”
Like they sing at the football matches: “There’s only one…” Well, there was only one Ian Dury, as unique and irreplaceable as they come. For sure, there will never be another quite like him.
Very strong language.
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