Van der Graaf Generator

Except for the blogkeeper at Scruffulans Hirsutus, I would expect few to find the genuine pleasure I did in this passage.

from Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
Geoff Dyer

'Who else do you like?' he asked, resisting the temptation to go completely Dylanological.

'Tangerine Dream,' she said, 'Van der Graaf Generator.' He couldn't tell if she was joiking.

'Did you ever see Van der Graaf?' he asked, responding in kind.

'I knew Pete Hammill slightly.'

'Did you? What was he like?'

'He was nice. A nice, well-mannered English boy.'

Jeff said, 'H to He Who Am the Only One.'

'Pawn Hearts,' she said back. He thought she was about to laugh, but she didn't quite.

'There's another one, but I can't quite remember it.'

'The Least We Can Do Is Wave at Each Other,' she said.

'Of course.'

'Aerosol Grey Machine.'

'My,' said jeff, 'you really know your Van der Graaf.'

One of the pleasures of the internet is that one can more easily discover those who truly enjoyed music that otherwise has faded into obscurity.  I was never a real fan of Van der Graaf Generator--I didn't think, and still don't think that Pete Hammill can sing all that well.  But I've found over time of listening that I like better what I merely tolerated in the past.  I still can't take a steady diet of it--but how nice it was to encounter someone who also was at least peripherally aware of groups that used to occupy a central place in my life.   (Oh, and there are a lot more, both with Van der Graaf and in a solo career than those mentioned above.)


  1. I am amused, delighted, and tickled pink by anyone who speaks of "resisting the temptation to go completely Dylanological"! Great adjective, even if it refers to the "wrong" Dylan.

  2. Dear Dylan,

    As a neologism, it is interesting--yes.

    Thank you for stopping by.




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