One of The Jam’s best songs, ‘That’s Entertainment’ is based on poetry by Paul Weller’s schoolmate from Woking’s Sheerwater Secondary Modern School, Dave Waller. Paul Weller took his friend’s poem and adapted them to a song.
From Voice Of Buddha ‘zine, 2. 1980
Paul Weller paid homage to him in 1978’s All Mod Cons songbook, “Dave, your words fill me with new hope for the modern world, whilst your words on decay and destruction have the foresight of a person a 1,000 years old. There are those who are held in high esteem who do not deserve it in light of you.”
Dave was a poet and a guitarist in an early line up of The Jam in 1972. Weller printed a book of Dave Waller poems Notes From Hostile Street on his Riot Stories imprint.
The Style Council song ‘A Man Of Great Promise’ was Paul Weller’s eulogy to his school friend Waller who died from a heroin overdose in 1982.
“I still play that sometimes. I was really saddened by his death,” reflected Weller. “It was inevitable though because he went down that path. He was a friend from the old days, he was much more literary than me, I was only reading the NME then, but he was a real talent as a writer and poet. He’d point out lyrics and meanings in Dylan and Donovan songs that I hadn’t picked up on because I was only listening to the music then.”
Weller became one of Britain’s best songwriters and his work became very literary and took on a depth that wasn’t to be found in much of the incendiary punk of the late 70s.
Weller was taking a turn for literature and writing from a young age. “I was very good at that”, as “reading Orwell’s “1984” for my CSE, they let me write a poem for it rather than an essay. It was called “Room 101”.
As well as Orwell, TS Eliot and particularly Adrian Henri all had an influence on The Jam, only Dave Waller shares writing credits.