The Manual (How To Have a Number One - The Easy Way)
July 12, 2007 2:19 PM   Subscribe

The Manual (How To Have a Number One - The Easy Way). Both light-hearted and thorough, the Timelords, aka the KLF, wrote this tongue-in-cheek manual in 1988 following their own novelty pop No. 1 "Doctorin' the Tardis". "If you are already a musician stop playing your instrument. Even better, sell the junk. It will become clearer later on but just take our word for it for the time being." Oh and apparently have lots of tea on hand.
posted by yeti (35 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Another quote:
Every Number One song ever written is only made up from bits from other songs. There is no lost chord. No changes untried. No extra notes to the scale or hidden beats to the bar. There is no point in searching for originality. In the past, most writers of songs spent months in their lonely rooms strumming their guitars or bands in rehearsals have ground their way through endless riffs before arriving at the song that takes them to the very top. Of course, most of them would be mortally upset to be told that all they were doing was leaving it to chance before they stumbled across the tried and tested.

posted by yeti at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2007

Apparently The Manual was the inspiration behind the Pipettes.
posted by chrominance at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2007

A cursory search reveals that this actually may not have been posted here before, which, frankly, surprises the hell out of me.
posted by dersins at 2:29 PM on July 12, 2007

What dersins said. Man.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 2:29 PM on July 12, 2007

Wow. The KLF page on Wikipedia is epic.
posted by smackfu at 2:32 PM on July 12, 2007

Supposedly also the inspiration for Edelweiss, although I don't know if that's really true or not. Regardless, The Manual is a hell of a great read -- found it some years ago and I reread it every few months, even though I'm not in a band and probably won't ever be.

Bill Drummond of the KLF has at least two other books which are worth looking into -- 45 and Bad Wisdom.
posted by the dief at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2007

The KLF are epic.

Oh, and it's GRIM up north.
posted by daq at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2007

GRIM I tell you.
posted by daq at 2:41 PM on July 12, 2007

Seconded on both of Drummond's books. 45 is one of the few non-fiction books I'll keep around and re-read from time to time.
posted by user92371 at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by greycap at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2007

posted by neckro23 at 2:44 PM on July 12, 2007

i've loved this book for years. it's brilliantly written, and, unsurprisingly, you'll find some absolute truths hidden between the jokes.
posted by mrballistic at 2:50 PM on July 12, 2007

I finally figured out what's wrong with the world. Nearly 30 years later and this stuff still seems kind of freaky.

posted by loquacious at 2:50 PM on July 12, 2007

I love that Edelweiss song. :|
posted by boo_radley at 2:53 PM on July 12, 2007

Chill Out is a favorite of mine.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on July 12, 2007

God bless The KLF. Long Live Ford Timelord!
posted by beelzbubba at 3:21 PM on July 12, 2007

The music and lyrics have all been written--it's all down to arrangement, now.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:24 PM on July 12, 2007

Something I didn't know for a long time was that Jimmy Cauty painted THAT Lord of the Rings poster....
posted by bruzie at 3:38 PM on July 12, 2007

This is brilliant, I've always wanted to read this. Thanks Yeti, you are justified and ancient.
posted by Elmore at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2007

IIRC, one of the "rules" is that you should be on the dole
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2007

And how about that time the KLF burnt a million pounds?
posted by stinkycheese at 4:01 PM on July 12, 2007

KLF's The Manual is practically a walkthrough for the 1984 ZX Spectrum game The Biz (mentioned on this page), a lemonade stand-like game where you and you struggling band try to make it in the music world.
posted by zsazsa at 4:03 PM on July 12, 2007

Wow. Tonight I think I will dust off The White Room and annoy the neighbors.
posted by Big_B at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2007

The Edelweiss connection has been noted elsewhere.

greycap: It starts with THIS IS WHAT THE KLF IS ABOUT.

One reason I love the band: Alan Moore considers Bill Drummond mad as a snake. That's Alan Moore, the man who decided to avoid a boring midlife crisis by becoming a magician & worshipping a fraudulent, fictional snake god.
posted by Pronoiac at 4:52 PM on July 12, 2007

Money, as often quoted, is not the root of all evil.

do know WHAT the root of all evil is.

That is to be explained in one of our future manuals and if we were to tell you the answer now you would not bother trying to have a Number One.

The most telling part of the entire "Manual" is found in that last sentence.

BTW, important post, yeti. I leave this material alone myself, but it must now be the time for whatever this actually is to see the light of day.

I'll explain what I mean later because if I told you now you would no longer bother posting FPPs any longer on Metafilter.
posted by humannaire at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2007

3 a.m. eternal, baby.
posted by Muddler at 6:12 PM on July 12, 2007

posted by the painkiller at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2007

"Doctorin' the Tardis" is singlehandedly responsible for making me believe that Rock and Roll Part 2 was the theme song for Doctor Who.
posted by Nahum Tate at 10:49 PM on July 12, 2007


Without doubt the best KLF moment.
posted by vbfg at 2:16 AM on July 13, 2007

Holy shit how did I forget about The KLF.

posted by cavalier at 7:56 AM on July 13, 2007

2007: What the Fuck is Going On?
posted by Grangousier at 8:03 AM on July 13, 2007

Tons more video is indexed at VideoCaffe.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:38 PM on July 13, 2007

I've loved these guys for a long time. When I first learned about The Manual I was under the impression that they wrote it before getting a number one hit. I like that version of the story better, but they're still crazy awesome guys that it's an amazing book.
posted by bigtex at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2007

Some trivia: Allegedly, the reason why there are two different versions of The White Room is because after the original version was completed, someone pointed out to them that they hadn't followed the steps laid out in their own Manual to produce number one hits. A bit of re-tweaking, and voila!. Dance music history.
posted by deusdiabolus at 3:07 AM on July 14, 2007

KLF vs Tammy
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:23 AM on July 14, 2007

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