Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Jerry Dammers - Behind the lyrics
Jerry Dammers
Jerry Dammers was one of the founding members of The Specials

One of the ten items chosen to represent Coventry and Warwickshire for the BBC's A History of the World is handwritten lyrics.

This particular piece of history is also the most modern in the collection - originating in 1979.

They are the handwritten lyrics to The Specials' Too Much Too Young, and were penned by founding member Jerry Dammers.

In a rare interview with Annie Othen, Dammers tells the story of the song...

Too Much Too Young

Handwritten lyrics to Too Much Too Young
The handwritten lyrics, which are housed at the Herbert in Coventry

Too Much Too Young featured on The Specials' debut album, Specials, which was released in 1979 on Jerry Dammer's 2-Tone record label.

Despite not actually remembering writing the lyrics - or how they came into the possession of the museum - Jerry remembers the story behind the song well. He told Annie Othen: "I can remember, obviously, what the song was about... I nearly had a thing with a married woman and it didn't happen in the end - obviously because she was married - so there was all that sort of rage and frustration of a young man.

"The song kind of got a happy ending because, obviously, the kid came first. So behind all that rage, it's actually quite nice because we both walked away from it for the sake of the kid. "

Its heavy lyrics were controversial at the time and when the band played it on The Old Grey Whistle Test, Terry Hall announced: "It should have been our next single, but they wouldn't play it on the radio."

Mellowed with age

Despite being very proud of the song, Jerry is slightly amused that the lyrics are part of A History of the World because they were written during his teenage years and now he has mellowed with age, but he still feels that the song is relevant in the 21st century.

"It's amazing. I don't know much about it (A History of the World), but it's fantastic. I've always said that that song takes in, you know, the population explosion, political global issues, so you know - those problems that I was writing about are still there and the whole problem of poverty in the world... is still a huge problem and all the environmental problems - that hasn't gone away."

Jerry is currently performing with his Spatial AKA Orchestra, which began as a tribute to musician Sun Ra.

They begin their first UK tour on Thursday, 4 March in Coventry at the Warwick Arts Centre. Annie asked Jerry about the band - which includes a special guest appearance by Specials trombonist Rico Rodriguez on a few dates - and also about the break-up and reformation of The Specials. You can hear highlights from the interview on this page.




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