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Friday, July 15, 2005
a little buddha, a little satan
Listening to:Don't Dream It's Over, Crowded House, in my head
Weather:72, lovely
Yesterday I was treated to some luscious in-depth exploration of the phenomenon of punk music. It started on my way home from work. Actually, I worked a little late, cruised over to Cheat Lake to visit with a friend and drop off some pirated Microsoft software, and it was on my way home from there that I got to enjoy listening to Fresh Air. This stellar public radio show comes out of Philly's WHYY, and is hosted by first-class interviewer Terry Gross. Terry talked to Iggy Pop, prompted by the release of his new retrospective CD, A Million in Prizes: The Iggy Pop Anthology.

Got to love the Stooges!!! Got to love the razor sharp and sinewy Iggy! Not the greatest guitar player, yo def not the greatest singer, but infreakindubitably a great punk expressionist. Search and Destroy is one of the old classics that peaks up in my brain regularly still. He gave a great explanatory background for his tune Gimme Danger: The Stones had produced the immortally-great song Gimme Shelter about all the scary shit in this world, and Iggy realized he and his punk revolutionaries were actually seeking out that crazy scary side of life, they didn't want shelter from it, they wanted it. Spoken like THE true punk. Loved Iggy ragging on the psychedelia that punk was rebelling against, noting that all those guys quickly got fat after that, but no, not Iggy, that skinny little crazy fuck.

Then last night on the great and wonderful IFC channel, the main reason I have freakin cable TV, the one channel out of some 200 that I actually watch, comes cat's punk du jour part deux, a great fresh doc called Punk: Attitude. Absolutely great fast pacing, just like the punk movement itself, chock full of juicy little nuggets of fantastic interviews with the seminal punks you want to see now 25+ yrs later like Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins. Henry, btw, you see all the time if you watch IFC, he's now a film critic (tasty and buff, no sallow fat boy, but still pretty impressed with himself like a good film critic). Henry blasted out some amazing insights, for example, that the punk and hip hop scenes joined and mingled toward the end of the explosive 3+ year international reign of punk ('77-'80), but had at least one significant difference of culture: the punks thrived on their poverty (ed. note: I believe Joe Strummer was actually an upper-middle class educated kid who chose to live the impoverished lifestyle of squatting and stealing guitars in London), while the hip hopsters proudly sought the bling when they could. Yes!!! Also, I believe both movements evolved through the 80's into pop/mainstream musical industries. And the whole east coast/west coast divisions of hip hop existed in punk as well, if not personally at least stylistically.

Another great insight from the film: the punk movement went back underground (from whence it came) in the 80's, and smoldered until the Seattle grunge scene emerged, giving those hungry for punk something to love at the record store once again. Full circle, punk which was borne of rock and roll became rock and roll once more, and hatched Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, etc.

I had a bit of a taste for some punk and hardcore in my college days, my early 20's, a time when most of us can relate to the misery and desperation and anger dished out in glorious out-of-tune power chords by the likes of Black Flag, Dead Kennedies, the Germs, (and who did that classic The Four F Club? can't remember. reaching back to my old Underexposed days on U92) and then more intellectually the Clash, and the Stooges and others. It was a little difficult for me to truly appreciate, mainly because most of them couldn't play guitar for shit. That makes it tough for a James Taylor fingerstyle player like me. But I could definitely groove on the unbridled energy and fuck you attitude.

The film was dedicated to Joe Strummer of the Clash, and ended with the beautiful classic Know Your Rights ("you have the right not to be killed. . ."). A special place in my heart for Joe, that little rudie can't fail.

permalink posted by cat 7:08 AM

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a little buddha, a little satan