Friday, July 31, 2009

Beth’s Music Moment – Punk Rock

Beth's music moment6 When I was running errands today, I was playing one of my newer CDs. I rarely buy CDs in stores, but love going online to places like BMG (now YourMusic) and Amazon to search for bargains and cool bands that I've never listened to before. I love the feature on most websites where you can listen to a 30-second clip of the songs, and decide whether or not you're interested. I've gotten pretty good at picking out CDs that I think I will like, and I've been very happy with some of my recent purchases.

In the car today, I was playing "Waterloo" by a band called Dirty Pretty Things, and although they're a relatively new band, formed in 2005, I was struck by what a punk sound they have, and it got me to thinking about my love of punk rock. My love for it has never gone away, and neither has punk rock!

This isn't about any band in particular, although I'll put up videos from the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Here are the Ramones with "Blitzkrieg Bop." Hard to believe that the core members of the band, Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee, are all gone now. The first two from cancer, and Dee Dee from an overdose. R.I.P., guys.

Punk was a musical force from about the mid-70's to the mid-80's, and although a brief run, what a ten year run it was. Into the midst of lame-o 70's AM rock (There were some fun songs from then, but a lot of it was crap. I give you "Afternoon Delight" by Starland Vocal Band. The prosecution rests, your Honor.) and God help us all, disco, exploded these nasty, sneering, street punks who stuck safety pins in their faces, yelled unintelligible lyrics, and played their instruments at an insane volume and pace. I generalize, because not all artists of that time fell into that mold. That was certainly the perception of middle class America, though, when the Sex Pistols crossed the pond and embarked on a two-week tour. I can still remember Shane and I listening to our parents talk about how awful it was and how disgusting these people were. Shane and I were already into it by that time, and I'm certain that we exchanged glances during these discussions, then headed off to the bedroom to listen to records and read liner notes!

Shane and I always had a knack for sniffing out new bands before they became highly popular. I think it was just a matter of being in-tune with what was going on and reading magazines like Creem, or watching "The Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder (he interviewed lots of punk bands), or watching the new acts on "Saturday Night Live." Whatever it was, we could really pick 'em. We were into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as soon as we heard "Breakdown" on the radio, and that was well before he hit it big; we loved Blondie before "Heart of Glass"; we loved Cheap Trick before they were "Live at Budokan"; and we were B-52's (more of a New Wave group) fans as soon as we saw them perform "Rock Lobster" and "Dance This Mess Around" on SNL, long before they hit mainstream popularity with "Cosmic Thing." I'm sure there are more, and maybe Shane can help me out here, but those are the ones that really stick in my mind.

Years later, when Green Day debuted their first CD, I remember talking to Shane and saying, "This is punk! Have you heard this?!" We were always a little ahead of our time musically, and it turns out that so was punk. It persists today in bands like Green Day and the Offspring and any other band that plays loud, simple chords.

For two kids in the Midwest who loved music, punk was exciting and a little bit...dangerous. It was diametrically opposed to the sweetness trickling from the radio, and we welcomed it with open arms and open ears. A lot of it was angry, especially the stuff coming out of the UK from bands like the Clash and the Pistols. A lot of the band members were poor working class kids, and they had a big chip on their shoulders. I can't say that either Shane or I were what could be called angry teenagers, but for whatever reason, we loved the music. Maybe we just liked to rock. That still endures, as does punk.

Here are the Sex Pistols doing "Pretty Vacant." Johnny Rotten did angry very well, snarling "We're so pretty, oh so pretty, we're vacant...and we don't care!"

*Note: All words and thoughts here are my own, but for an extensive discussion of punk rock, including subsequent bands that were influenced by it, the Wiki punk entry is pretty good!


  1. Although we have not done a Punk Band together, I am looking forward to next weekends Alice and Blue Oyster Cult concert, and it was fun speculating tonight when we might get to see the GodFathers again :o)

    Rock On!

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your discussion of Punk Rock. It's not a genre that I know a lot about but I feel better informed after reading your post. Although, I have to admit, I liked Disco!

  3. Alice who? In Chains or Cooper??

    I just liked music. My Mom liked the bands that came over the water, Dave Clark, The Beatles and a few others that I can't call. So for me, it was hearing their accent. I didn't know glam from Punk then, so David Bowie flowed right into Joe Strummer.

    I liked Devo and the B52's straight away. There was this quirky late nate DJ on the black pop stations who played all sorts of different stuff, along with the reg'lar R&B hits, but even those selections were more avant garde.

    It was always hard for me to listen to the pop songs of any musical genre. I had to 'hear' what struck me. Still works that way.

    When Amazon first came out with customer reviews and lists, that REALLY helped me find music. Radio STILL doesn't do a good job of letting you hear good music. Sattilite radio lets you hear a song ONCE ... then you hope you hear it again before you decide you need to buy it. And it is hard to find out the name of what you are listening to.

    With Amazon, the passion in some reviews, and what they compared the music to, got me. I used to belong to some cd clubs, and would read and take 'fliers' on bands ... in fact, that is how I got into my current 'Favourite New Band', Interpol. Was walking into an indie record store (even though they only sell cd's, I still call them 'record stores'!) and bought 'Turn Out The Bright Lights' because of what I read.

    Same with TV On The Radio. The name of their first LP, 'Desparate Youths, Blood Thirsty Babes', was clever to me, along with their band name.

    I could go on and on. Sort of like the horizon as you are 'staring into the sun' as it sets in the west. But I will stop here. I have some music entries queue'd up in my mind, some embed of some video to show as my mind settles out. Hope they are interesting.

  4. OMG... Blitzkrieg Bop is one of my all time faves... so many of what you mentioned were hits with me... except the Sex Pistols, I never liked them much. lol How about the Pretenders... they were kind of more New Wave I guess, but I loved them too...

    be well,

  5. i missed out on the first wave of the whole punk thing but got really into the early 80's LA hair and metal bands like motley crue, metallica and slayer, then it was on to hardcore which is where i have been since 87/88.

    it's so cool how so many defining moments in the human experience can be set to musical soundtracks, thanks for sharing part of yours (and shane's) with us!

    going to buy lanterns tomorrow!!!!


  6. I have noticed your knack at picking out bands that are going to be the next big thing. Years ago, you were talking about another punk band (I can't recall which at the moment) and the other day I saw it on a website and they were talking about how they were really up and coming. I had to snicker and think "Beth could've told you that." ;)
    P.S. I now have breakdown stuck in my head. It's alright! It's alright.

  7. Beth, you don't look like the punk type but I bet you can rock with it. Yeas a bunch of cute guys around. The nicely built young dish installer, the windstream guy was tall, well built with red hair and beard. Stove was just a nice looking guy, in shape. Ya know I might be old but I can still see. lol

  8. Dear Beth,
    nice entry! thanks!

  9. Oh come on...tell me you didn't like Afternoon Delight??? ROFLMA!!!! I really used to like the Clash. The songs I've heard from Green Days' new cd are pretty good. You should be in the biz, you could pick & promote the next big thing!!!


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?