I can chart my John Foxx fandom back to February/March of 1981. Once I finally found a copy of Ultravox’s “Vienna” album in December of 1980, I wasted little time in quickly absorbing all of the earlier Ultravox! albums, the Visage album, and the John Foxx solo album, “Metamatic.” I was an instant John Foxx fan; just add water. One resilient feature of the scant few Foxx interviews that managed to pass my eyes back then, was that Foxx always talked about this “book” he was writing. It was called “The Quiet Man” and we foolishly thought that we’d see a copy in a few years. The title had been taken from the song of the same name from the “Systems Of Romance” album and for a decade or so, there was no prose from it that we’d managed to see, but that all changed in the late 90s.
Parts of the writing filtered out first in the pages of Extreme Voice, the Ultravox fanzine. They had published excerpts in the 1990s here. Once I finally got to read some of it, it became apparent that “The Quiet Man” was the literary framework that built the entire thematic point-of-view that accounted for virtually every song John Foxx had written from 1978 going forward! Brian Eno liked to build cybernetic systems that generated the music he wanted to hear, by imposing arbitrary rules along certain guidelines. And that’s fine. But Foxx seemed to have decided what his themes were and then he created this literary construct to flesh out the details in prose. Prose that frequently became not only the thrust of the songs, but also their lyric structure as well.
As I have read excerpts of “The Quiet Man,” I could not fail to notice that large chunks of lyrical content were taken from the writing. In 2009, Foxx’s Metamatic label issued a spoken word CD, narrated by Justin Barton, with a piano soundtrack by Foxx that featured five long excerpts from “The Quiet Man” and more of these passages were familiar from lyrics to songs of the last 20-30 years. But the project gave the prose room to breathe beyond the excerpts that had been previously published thus far. It’s 2019, 41 years after the song “The Quiet Man” made its appearance, and we need to get ready for the whole thing.
Our friends at Rocket88 Books, have pre-anounced publication of “The Quiet Man” as designed by his long-time designer, Jonathan Barnbrook. The book will have original photographic images and drawings by Foxx, along with a CD of Foxx doing readings from some of the stories. This is to be released later this year and all we know for certain is that it will be in two editions; normal, and “executive.” Either will have the CD, but the limited edition will include signed art prints. Judging from the DEVO Book that Rocket 88 published last year, I expect that the regular edition will be an affordable book of less than $80. Pre-ordering will certainly net some sort of discount; it’s Rocket 88’s M.O. The signed edition will be several hundred dollars if we look back to the spudboys’ tome.
Currently, all we can do is to sign up for more information once it will be released at the “Quiet Man” microsite here. I’m in no hurry as dollars are currently tight. The news of this book finally being published at first gave me pause; as it seems as if Foxx could be putting a period at the end of his musical career by doing this. While it would be churlish of me to insist that my favorite artist keep producing music, his output has been particularly prodigious over the last 20+ years; second only to perhaps Bill Nelson. I can’t begrudge the man should he decide to draw it all to a close, just because I never got a chance to see him perform live. Though that would hurt. But I have some hopes that it’s not all behind Foxx as Benge has revealed that the long mooted John Foxx/Robin Simon project is still underway. Until we get more tantalizing detail on that note, let’s all just start setting aside our pocket change with the notion of buying this fine volume at some point later this year.
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I am also very excited by the possibility of owning this book-though it may remain a possibility for quite a while as I doubt I will have the spare cash to splurge on it.
I attended two Quiet Man performances in London some years ago and have always been fascinated by the story/concept.Standing in front of The Grey Suit and brown Yugoslavian shoes which were displayed in a glass cabinet, whilst talking to Herr Foxx ,is one of my fondest memories
I always thought that the text from “Church”-the beautiful book which accompanied some editions of the original vinyl record of “Metamatic” was taken from Quiet Man sources as well.
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Gavin – You are correct, sir. “Church” was the first time we’d seen glimpses of the “Quiet Man” prose; curse me for the novice! And as far as I can tell from what I have seen/heard of it, “The Quiet Man” has been the wellspring of almost every solo song he’s made for decades. “In Mysterious Ways” being a rare holdout. Even Foxx can fall in love. I absolutely loves the idea of The Grey Suit and plain shoes present in a glass cabinet while Mr. Foxx gave a reading of his work. A perfect moment, I daresay. At least when Rocket 88 are publishing something, they give you the better part of a year to save your pennies.
What galls me most are purchases that may be costly, and appear like mushrooms with just as brief a half-life. Things you will want and need to splurge big cash on immediately or else be empty handed. There’s so much of that nonsense in this hellish chain-yank world of today that it really gets me dispirited. I can’t just conjure up more than $20 at the drop of a hat. Large purchases [and for me >$20 is such a thing] requires budgeting and saving over time.
And now we enter into the world of economics. You could use credit to purchase the items.
But I agree, if there’s a large amount to outlay, then its best to save up for it.
I knew about a $200 electronic item I wanted to purchase since last year, and planned
to get it in May. So I saved up $20 a week, and with a tax refund, that kicked in, I was able to get the item. I knew there were a lot of other items I passed on earlier this year, the New Order boxset, the Heaven 17 boxset, and several other deluxe editions. But luckily the price of those items keep dropping.
The problem with Rocket 88 books, is that they tend to disappear quickly. I got the deluxe version (Not the super duper deluxe version) of the bound Talk Talk book first edition which came out to $150 and shipping. That’s probably the priciest book I’ve ever bought, but I was employed at the time, so it wasn’t that much of a hardship. It was worth every penny of it too. The one other point is that if a book is really popular, they sometimes issue them in softcover, which they did also with the Talk Talk book. But why take the chance.
Good luck on your purchases.
negative1ne – Interesting to hear that I’m not the only one who has to budget for any outlays of significance. I think that capitalism has no patience with savers. They want people maxing out their credit to extract interest on top of spending. So the H17 box is going down in price? That’s great news! I dearly want one [once they repair all of the errors] and anything less than $120 is a big plus.
I always thought the first excerpt of The Quit Man Nove was published here:
Still have the original copy in my archives I made ages ago, hoping for more to appear.
But no, I would shelve out a regular book price up to 20 maybe 30$ or € but not a ‘let your fans bleed’ price. If this would be his only release in years maybe, but I couldn’t afford to keep up with his batch of releases anyhow.
I remember the late 80’s when I always looked out of another trace of him after the pointless and disappointing ‘In Mysterious Ways’ LP hoping for him to return to form but you always should be careful what you wish for ; )
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I’m a massive john foxx and gary numan fan gary has done2 books he signed one for me I like the analogue electronic sound of foxx his music is brilliant
Mark Garton – So you were in the UK. Here in America, in September of 1981, the way things worked out, I was able to buy the then new releases of Gary Numan [“Dance”] and John Foxx [“The Garden” which was an import] on the same day! I also got the new Ultravox album [“Rage In Eden”] that day! Hard to imagine there was such a time now!
Three electronic masterpieces on the same day, Mr. Monk–that may well be the greatest triple slam in New Wave purchasing history! What a year 1981 was!
James Pagan – The gifts were bountiful on my 18th birthday! I was expecting the Foxx opus since I already had the “Europe After The Rain” single. I went to the best local record store [that carried imports] specifically looking for that one. The other two were the luck of the day!
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