Sunday, December 03, 2006

Whatever happened to "pay no more than..."?

Over at Dave's there is a bit of a discussion on punk (sparked by Dave going off to see the Buzzcocks, lucky bugger). I've cut and pasted part of my contribution here, plus some other thoughts - extra bonus material!

Some of the younger folk seem to think the main thing about punk was that it was new and trendy. Like it was the latest thing man. Well, I don't think punk's 'ethic' was out with the old and in with the new at all.

Whilst when it first appeared it was new (which I think is pretty unavoidable) it hardly advocated moving on to the next fad as soon as it appeared. Tartan wearing bay city rollers fans and tubular bells all had their moments of newness but they could hardly be described as the spirit of punk.

You could argue that the Boy Band phenomenon with its fuck the music we're in it for the money attitude and it's clear historically transitory nature could fit very easily into some definitions of punk - but that would be just plain silly.

"A guy walks up to me and asks, 'What's Punk?'. So I kick over a garbage can and say 'That's Punk!'. So he kicks over a garbage can and says 'That's Punk?', and I say 'No, that's trendy!"

I would have thought the thing that made punk punk was nihilism. Which is why, as one commentator says, Green Day will never be punk - because all the chords may be there but wrapped up as a perfectly constructed, symmetrical product. I mean that's just sick!

I think punk's self destructive gofuckyourselfness fitted perfectly with the rise in unemployment and decline of the revolutionary hopes of '68, a Labour government shitting on the unions it was meant to be 'in the pocket of' and the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland.

Hey, we'd been living with the prospect of nuclear annihilation by one or other of the superpowers for decades and we were meant to take sides? Kill the Vietnamese for what? A flag? Sod that for a game of soldiers.

When there are no more viable choices - choose nothing.

"Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you ALIVE."

For me the real punks were always the jeans and t-shirt wearers rather than the peacock haired part-time punks who "pogo in their bedroom... but only when their Mum's gone out." It always seemed to me that they were more into make up and fashion than taking a shit on a shit world. It takes a lot of effort to get your hair to look like that.

"This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band"

But as much as punk defined itself in opposition to any authority it could find from Mary Whitehouse to Bill Grundy [see infamous interview] authority also loved punk - it appeared to be exactly the way they wanted rebellion to be, standing for nothing except pulling down civilisation around our ears. Jacking in your job and punching the supervisor because he wanted you to stack crates of toothpaste was the ultimate in punk ethic - becoming a shop steward and improving health and safety in the workplace wasn't really on the cards.

Can't play? Can't be bothered to learn how? Form a punk band.

Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock


badmatthew said...

I'm old enough to remember punk: so just say it was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the dominant music of the day. Remember 'Chicago'? And the audience: guys with spots and big and bad shirt collars.
Dancing: 'the standing still'!
And don't forget the rise of the NF, and the reply: No Fun, No Future.

LeftyHenry said...

Punk nowadays has become pop-trash but there are still a few good bans if you look hard enough.

Renegade Eye said...

Punk has been conscious of its role from the start. it is, "let's play loud and in rebellion".

Louisefeminista said...

I was around 6 when punk first appeared on the horizon while I was listening to Abba (will probably regret mentioning that..)but having much older siblings I do remember hearing Wreckless Eric, The Pistols, The Slits, The Clash, Mekons and so on.

I agree with Badmatthew as it did blow away the old cobwebs musically. I mean, Prog Rock (c'mon!) and other crap. It was indeed a breath of fresh air and refreshing. There was an anti-establishment feel to it all. Punk did lead onto other things as well.

Jim Jay said...

Well we all have skeletons in our closett (yes, I'm looking at you, Boney M record) and I think punk'd greatest contribution was, in a way, wiping the slate clean for who was to follow.

Of course they made Duran Duran possible which is a -black-mark-.

I also want to add that it wasn't all to the left - it was anti- everything (except perhaps money) and, I remember an album by anti-sect that was incredibly mysogynistic - I'm sure there were loads of others.

And wasn't the very early Jam / Paul Weller a Tory, until he realised that hurt sales?

Louisefeminista said...

Jim: Are you knocking Duran Duran? Early Duran was cool, ya know...


oh and Paul W. did make that blinking stopid comment about voting Tory.

Jim Jay said...

I'll take Abba over Duran Duran anyday... ~I shudder at the very thought~

Louisefeminista said...

Well, I agree if you are talking later Duran (post Rio)as they became utterly crap and I probably would too prefer Abba!!