There’s no-one like him. No-one. When I think about him, I feel sad and glad and flooded with memory. I feel the thrill of buying Down By The Jetty with the HMV token I got for my thirteenth birthday. I feel the slash/punch of his nuclear cheese-grater guitar on that LP, his sardonic voice, the tense glory of his gives and takes with Lee and the blues and the rhythm section. I feel a laughing, oh-yes gratitude for the fuses of punk he helped set alight. I feel the breathlessness of seeing him the night after 7/7 and feeling so, so glad to be alive, realising that this – his power and passion and mad-stare lust for life – is what gives us meaning. I feel the dark skies and silly Bergmanisms of watching Oil City Confidential and The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson and wishing I could access just a fraction of his magical brew of the visceral and the intellectual, the serious and the playful. I feel the stabs of his pushed-away pain for the loss of Irene and of the years and of Lee. I feel the ache of talking for hours about his sweet, real, gleeful/holy response to his terminal diagnosis with a mate who was himself dying of that bastard disease. I feel the joy of each time I’ve seen him since he was supposed to be dead.
I feel… everything about Wilko, because he represents everything good and sharp and doomed and flawed and perfect and hopeful about England and Englishness. Cheers mate: many, many happy returns.