Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Punk Attitude


After participating in a discussion at the Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival about all things punk.... I got to thinking, when the question was raised... "why is there no single punk rock narrative (film) out there?"

Here's why: Punk is an Attitude. Punk was a Zeitgeist thing - that I've said a million times... it used to be the banner of this blog when it launched. Punk was DIY and as such... how could there be any one dominant narrative anyway? The whole DIY approach defies that! Go ask intellectuals like Donna Gaines, Dick Hebdige and a whole host of other people I've studied with or read....

Why is there a photo of Pete Townshend here? Well - many reasons.

Today, I wanted to bring up all kinds of musicians who had that attitude we consider to be punk attitude.

Pete Townshend wrote "My Generation," which was pretty much a galvanzing anthem that declared, "Hope I die before I get old." Well, Pete's old now, he's not dead and his words resonate 40 years later. And maybe living to be old(er) is kind of a harsh irony for the man who wrote the song...but he is still relevant as far as I'm concerned.

Then there was the whole thing where I really believed the torch was being passed in the early 80s, when the Who had the Clash open its stadium tour. I learned later there was no torch passing intended... but it really did feel like it to me at the time.

Wayner Kramer

There's Wayne Kramer of the MC5. Simultaneous to the Who, the MC5 were kicking out the jams and aligning themselves with politics that affected not only their hometown of Detroit but the entire United States and launched the White Panther movement. They were angry young men with guitars. They stood their ground and everything they believed in at the time.... their youthful folly landed some of them in prison. Its neither right nor wrong.... they did it, they own it and they're still around for the most part... we miss Rob Tyner and Fred Sonic Smith, but Wayne, Michael Davis, and Dennis Thompson carry the torch.

Michael Davis / MC5

Don't know how many of you know this, but Mike Davis knows his punk rock more than anyone I know. Its true.

David & Syl

I always felt that musically and in the media, the New York Dolls bridged the gap between glam and punk --- their street wise attitude and the way they played stood out to me as something new worth watching and following. Maybe it was them, or maybe it was Malcolm McLaren. Back then, its not what I thought, but now I do.... because after the Dolls, Malcolm gives us the Sex Pistols.

Johnny Rotten & Steve Jones

And the Sex Pistols are historically where most people start thinking about PUNK.

But let's not forget my two faves - Ramones and Dead Boys, who were American pioneers and also toured together and once dragged me along across America for the fun and games.

Dee Dee & Stiv (buy it!)

But there are so many others with punk attitude who weren't part of the 70s explosion like The Velvet Underground in the 60s, or the Oblivians in the 90s.

Jack and Eric

One thing I was happy to have been able to do at Don't Knock the Rock was stir up the memory of the Oblivians for people who mistakenly thought the 90s was all about grunge and Seattle... if there was any band that "saved" the idea of punk rock for me in the 90s, it was the Oblivians. Around the same time, of course, was the Gories, who inspired bands like the Oblivians and many others - almost all of whom I really do love!

Soul Man

The band that bridged the gap between garage and punk and injected both comedy and primitivism was Bantam Rooster, just two guys making more noise than a band with a double dose of rhythm section (ok - inside joke....). But seriously - this hysterically funny duo really launched something.... just guitar and drums, blame them or praise them, for they paved the way for the White Stripes, Black Keys, The King Khan and BBQ Show and countless other DUOS with no bass but lots of noise....

Tom takes a cigarrette

There IS a throughline of musicians with a no-compromise attitude. They're everywhere. I like to think its MORE than a fashion statement.... although I'm told by people who live in cities where they are forced to shop in the mall that "30 Years of Punk" is the latest theme at Hot Topic. Thankfully, I've NEVER been in Hot Topic... but maybe I should go there and check it out. I might find there's more corrupting to be done.... Stiv? do you hear what I'm thinking?

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