Gary Gilmore’s Eyes

This strange but iconic punk song is memorable for its weird concept, but particularly for the eerie ascending bass played by straight-down-the-line punkgirl, Gaye Advert.

Gaye, now better known as artist Gaye Black, always resented the focus on her as the band’s visual appeal. There are some appalling descriptions of her as band member; I won’t even mention what Tony Parsons wrote about her, but here’s a typical vomit-job:

“The fragile beauty that made the world and Mick Jagger fall in love with Marianne Faithful. Gaye is beautiful, she is as dark as Marianne was fair, with black hair and Castillian white skin. She wears black nail varnish to match, and the black make up which encircles her eyes gives Gaye a sort of morose panda look.” Daily Express

She plays the bass guitar. She is a musician. Get over it.

Image result for gaye advert

In a 2001 interview, Gaye Advert talks about how the media would  concentrate on

“irrelevant things like clothes or be extra critical of my playing,”

which, strangely for a musical movement based on amateur-style playing, many a punkgirl has had to deal with.

“People seem to resent the fact that I’m female,” Gaye said; “they have totally the wrong attitude towards me. They always go on about what I’m wearing, how I present myself. All I’m trying to do is get a good sound, and play right – I’m not one of Pan’s People. I get furious when someone tries to make me out to be some kind of sex symbol.”

In 1977, songs like the Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ were banned for being offensive, but it was perfectly all right to broadcast a song about a recently-executed murderer, and the unfolding realisation that the singer of the song has acquired  the famous murderer’s eyes.

Gary Gilmore
Gary Gilmore

The real Gary Gilmore chose death by firing squad in the US, and within hours, his corneas had been transplanted into an unsuspecting recipient. That’s the principle behind the song written by Adverts main main TV (Tim) Smith. The song is a thrill from start to finish, and in this performance on Top of The Pops in 1977, Gaye Black plays inconspicuously whilst being so so cool.

A murderer’s been killed,
And he donates his sight to science.
I’m locked into a private ward.
I realise that I must be
Looking through Gary Gilmore’s eyes.
Looking through Gary Gilmore’s eyes.
I smash the light in anger
Push my bed against the door.
I close my lids across my eyes,
And wish to see no more.
The eye receives the messages,
And sends them to the brain.
No guarantee the stimuli must be perceived the same
When looking through Gary Gilmore’s eyes.
Gary don’t need his eyes to see.
Gary and his eyes have parted company.
Weird but delicious. Thank you Gaye Black and Tim Smith; we look back with great fondness on this body-part punk anthem!

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