Sunday, April 11, 2010

Punk rock

Malcom McLaren has passed away, the man commonly credited  by quick study journalists and water cooler culturati with creating  punk rock, in the form of The Sex Pistols. I usually sniff when I hear this; grand as they were, and visionary though he was, I thought they and their like were redundant to rock and roll's evolution. Rather than make something new, they reiterated old noise and pre-owned attitudes. I grew up in Detroit in the late Sixties, where the local bands included The MC5, Iggy and the Stooges and The Amboy Dukes, not-give-fuck punks who kicked out the jams a good decade before the Brits made what was punk rock into a design fetish. It's not that I  thought the Sex Pistols weren't called for, as the pretentiousness of the musicians and the gullibility of the audience had choked off the life force that made rock and roll exciting and worth caring about. Some of it might be laid at the feet of rock criticisms, since the advanced discussions of Dylan's relationship to Chuck Berry's everyman existentialist demanded a musical technique and lyrical concept just as daunting. This is the danger when folk art is discovered: it stands to become something distorted, disfigured and bereft of vitality. I was lucky , I guess, in that I was a fan of the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges long before the Sex Pistols caught the punk wave. They , and bands like Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath were a grounding principal--rock and roll is beautiful because it's energetic, awkward, and stupid, but profoundly so. There are "concept albums" I admire and still like, if not listen to, but I won't name them here. I am pleased, though, that the idea of the Album being a literary object has been dropped in a deep grave and had dirt thrown over it's bloviated remains. What we can thank the late Clarine for is reminding us that rock and roll is a loser's game, the noise of the empty stomache.


  1. "the noise of the empty stomache" -- sweet. And fitting for oh so many things.

    As for rock being a loser's game....well, what music is the winner's game? And who would want to listen to it?

  2. Most popular music is theme songs for losers and their moron cousins, dreamers. Dreamers just haven't yet recieved the memo. Who would listen to it if it were a winner's game. A room full of Bud Collier clones in Groucho glasses.


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