Paul Weller Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Paul Weller 1958–

British songwriter.

Until his recent departure from the group, Weller wrote for the Jam, who were tentatively linked with Punk and New Wave rock and roll. In common with the bands in these movements, the Jam were young and enthusiastic and played simple, energetic music. Weller's lyrics, however, were more serious and socially oriented than those of most other songwriters. In contrast to the outrageous dress of many rock stars in the 1970s, the Jam had the unadorned appearance of 1960s mods—short haircuts, black mohair suits, white shirts, and black ties. Weller's songs and the group's music were influenced by the early Who, but the Jam updated their sound to make it fresh and exciting.

Weller directs his songs toward the under-twenty audience; he believes that bands like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Genesis no longer have anything to say to this age group. His songs often deal with such issues as corruption, alienation, waste, and class conflicts. Besides being socially relevant, Weller's lyrics describe the problems, aspirations, and hopes of young adults. The Jam were a huge success in England, but had only a cult following in America; nevertheless, most critics consider Weller to be one of the finest songwriters of the New Wave movement.