Guest-authoring over at Raised On The Radio, I get to pay homage to one of my early year heroes while also being able to bust on my little brother.
Pretty sweet, that.
Guest-authoring over at Raised On The Radio, I get to pay homage to one of my early year heroes while also being able to bust on my little brother.
Pretty sweet, that.
“This is a public service announcement… With guitar!”
We blatantly ripped that intro straight from Joe Strummer’s pre-recorded lips, and following it would be the commercial for Club Harvey’s New Wave Night with DJ Jane Doe. It was the first commercial voice-over work I would ever do, and to my knowledge, the last as well.
Yes, I was one of the kids who was “in,” back then, despite a whole wealth of problems coming into bloom just under the surface. How “in” was I, you ask? Well let’s just say, of the battle between Chess King and Merry Go Round… I bolo-tie shopped at them BOTH.
I guess what I’m trying to say as succinctly as possible (so we can get to the music already!) is that, outside of becoming a parent, the eighties proved to be just about the most important event in my life, as far as my trail of self-discovery goes. The decade saw quite a few different facets of me – far too many to be round-up in just (5) little tunes.
Brief Aside: So here’s what I’d like to do for just this week (promise!). Each song will represent a different facet, and then directly beneath (or on top, or somewhere in between) will be a link to find the (5) songs proper chosen for each of these facets. Please, after you’ve read the other writers submissions, feel free to listen to as many or as few as you’d like – I promise they’re all Golden! Even IF I’m not even scratching the surface here…
OK, back on task. So where were we? Oh yes, me – multi-faceted. Blah, blah, blah. Here’s where we get to the tunes. To keep things simple (and believe you me, not a damned thing is ever simple with me), we’ll keep the 8 t’s down to 5 – Mopey t, Happy t, Angry t., Club Kid t and the “definitive 8 t’s” t.
Ready to go? Wicked!
OK, first thing’s first, with the Mopey t (of course)…
Followed quickly (and I mean that – I was damned near maniacal back then) by Happy t!
Followed just as quickly (see special “maniacal” note above) by a t that was really Angry…
Of course, all those emotions bomping about inside all the time, gave me the craziest urge to hit the dance floor. I mean, I was a Club Kid t after all.
And before we (presumably) move on to the 90’s, let me give my version of the songs you MUST know in order to be a true eighties aficionado, The Definitive 8 t’s, if you will…
So there we have it. Or, at least just one small tiny piece of it. And look at that, we made it all the way through without any Yanni or Kenny G references…
Care to take us out of here Joe? I mean, it wouldn’t have been a proper decade – or a Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday for that matter- without you.
In the final analysis, the 80’s were to see (2) distinctly different me’s (neither of which got laid, until damned near decade’s end) which is odd, considering that 2013 finds me in very much the same utterless boat.
But during the 80’s, 2013 was too far off, and much more about flying spaceships (and getting laid as a result) than anything else. So seeing as I had my tape recorder, and Snortin’ Norton with his “Mu-Mu-Mu-Metal Shopppp…!” Metal Shop broadcasting at midnights to help me along, we’ll just stick to what I knew back then, OK?
As has so often occurred, the decade began with me trying to “find my way.” And seeing as Liberace was considered far too “old folk” at the time, my way went a little something like this:
Now to be sure, “Hell Bent For Leather” was and is, my Priest jam of choice, but this comes in at a CLOSE second, AND unlike the former, it was 80’s as hell. So there.
Here was another “80’s as hell” ticket, on the metal front:
Now if I could, Dio would be my personal Metal Drag Momma, similar to Marian and k~ being my Blog Drag Momma’s (that’s right ladies, you’d be drag momma’s along with Ronnie James – pretty awesome, right?) But – with their perfect blend of speed, weight and nihilism – it would eventually be these boys, who were the ones to trip my metal ragings into full speed:
Which of course leads us to Maiden, as I can’t hear that last track without immediately thinking of possibly The BEST metal tune of all time. Yes, I mean that. Listen, and you’ll agree:
“Hey t, that places us at (4), when (5) is required. Are you gonna share (1) more?”
Two, in fact.
What? Everyone else does…
For #5, I will go to a cover – yet another in a long line of covers that bested the original by ten fold. Made by some poor kids hoping for a chance they never truly got, this lil dittie would go on to best the original, to the point where many would forget that there ever was one in the first – here’s the boys from Quiet Riot, doing it right:
Yes, from here I could also go on to regale you with tunes from acts such as Twisted Sister, Def Leppard, and any number of other metal and/or hair bands. But even in their midst, already a new troy was emerging, and the segway between the Metal me and the Next me, was coaxed (rather accidentally) along by strange new sounds like the following…
I didn’t get laid until damned near the decades end.
But who cares?
Coming in Pt 2 – the shit that would eventually make me what I am. Or what I was. Or what I might someday be… Or whatever
I hope you liked my entry for this week’s Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday. Please drop in and play along, because honestly, I could spend about a month’s worth of posts on the music of this decade; so your assistance in exploring the musical landscape of the time (sans any mention of Kenny G or Yanni of course) is appreciated!
Johansen felt slighted. I know he did. He told me so.
Figuratively speaking of course.
He told me “yo t! You mean to tell me that you own all my shit from my New York Dolls days, AND you actually own BOTH Buster Poindexter discs from the eighties (had no idea about the other shit that I released in the early nineties, did ya?), and all I get is a mere nod and a ‘shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!’? Really? You mean to say that even tho’ two outta your three kids have spent hours with you, having dance parties around all my way cool remakes of old fifties shit like ‘Showdown’, ‘Bad Detective’ and ‘Stranded In The Jungle’, that’s the best you can give me? Just a ‘shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!’???? Hell, even Allmusic.com said that me n’ the boys helped to ‘create punk rock before there was a term for it.’ Never mind the fact that Morrissey is a huge fan. We’re talkin’ MORRISSEY here. And if that weren’t good enough, don’t you and C spend every damned Christmas, at least once running through the whole ‘Frankie angel’ schpeel I did in ‘Scrooged!’? Damn man, give me my due!”
OK David, here’s your due.
I loved the Dolls since the first time I heard them. “And when I say ‘love’, I mean LOVE, L.U.V.” But then after a while, I started to hate them. Well, not so much “hate” really. I just lost interest is all. However, this was only to be followed by my loving them again once more, and later on. The process then repeated itself. Several times. In fact, they are one of the few bands who has seen me hand over cash multiple times in exchange for their discs (I have a bad habit of, once I no longer like an act, donating their stuff to either a library or a Salvation Army. Slowly spreading the disease, one listener at a time). This latest round of purchases I’m keeping though. For one, it’s a damned expensive habit to indulge in, and for another, it’s becoming harder and harder to actually find their stuff on the shelves. This is true for even their last album, put out not too long ago by the new New York Dolls (I won’t post it here, but I highly recommend you seek out and give “Gotta Get Away From Tommy” a listen – a jolly romp, and one that the two outta the three particularly love to dance to).
And Buster Poindexter? He’s even harder to find. In fact, I found his second disc in a used bin at a local record shop. Truth be told, I believe I found his first album in a similar location. In fact, should you be interested in picking up some Poindexter, you may want to just start there. I’m not sure why this particular incarnation never really took off (especially given the never ending and inexplicable fame of “Hot, Hot, Hot” – another song I will NOT be including in this post), but I suppose that doesn’t really matter in the end. Johansen doesn’t seem the type to stick with any one thing for too long. And again, back to Allmusic.com, I was pleased to find there that it was this character of his that caught the eye of the “Scrooged” casting folks. The Ghost of Christmas Past wouldn’t have been worth the price of admission had not Johansen plunked on it’s elfin ears. Just try imagining anyone else yelping “it’s a BONE, you lucky dog!” with even half of the streetwise charm he muscled into the character.
Go ahead, try. I’ll wait.
Yes, I am also aware that he was in “Freejack.”
But so was Mick Jagger.
And Emilio Estevez.
Yep, Anthony Hopkins too.
Look, I suppose what I’m saying here is that everyone is capable of making mistakes. OK?
So there David. There’s your due. On a Friday no less, and in well under my usual one thousand plus words. I hope you’re happy, and I hope you’ll enjoy the two songs I eventually chose to end this with. Turns out, you’re almost as hard to find on Youtube as you are in the record shops. But I still love ya man…
Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig joined me for my Sunday walk this past weekend.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
This resulted from my choosing for my “solitary Sunday walk” soundtrack, a mixed tape I’d previously made for my long distance friends entitled “Old Punk.” A mix that, it might surprise you to learn, is comprised solely of old punk tunes as sung by old punk bands. As such, the likes of Johnny Lydon, Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop and David Johansen were with me as well (shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!), all of them singing to me of some sort of rebellion or angst, and all while I traveled on my sunny suburbia way.
You see, at some point in time, the house that I bought, the house that I live in, had somehow snuck itself into the outskirts of suburbia. Not by much, but just enough. Enough to be within walking distance of the part “where the rich people live.” A land that is wholly unlike my little part of suburbia. A place where the houses that can be seen are larger than life, obnoxious, snooty and plunked onto parcels of land vast enough as to force for a new definition of the word “parcel”. The houses that can’t be seen are buried behind layers of mighty bushes, equally as snooty, though slightly less obnoxious. I walked past them briskly, keeping my heart rate up, as the denizens of early punk sang to me of how poisonous my chosen surroundings were.
Now the rich may happen to own the land I strode upon, but seeing as I was the only one outdoors, it was I who owned the sky. I who owned the day. The air was fresh, and Spring had finally arrived. After an almost non-existent winter, that was then followed by an intrusive and unexpected bit of summer in between. Why no one else (well, most no one else) was enjoying the fresh air was no longer a puzzlement to me, as this has been a noted and slowly increasing phenomenon for years now. This migration from the outdoors to the in. From the warm glow of the sun, the the cold harsh light of the screen. From the sweat of exercise to the bloat of inactivity. Of course, and in line with my normal digressionary standards, this little bitch session about the sloth-like nuance of modern suburbia has absolutely nothing at all to do with the larger bitch session at hand, so we’ll just sit it here for now, possibly picking it up again in a future post.
As to the larger bitch session at hand, what I was hoping to address was this. While I walked through all the finery and trappings of wealth, I was reminded steadily by bands such as Sham 69, The Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks what a – well – what a sham the whole thing was. Is. OK, the Buzzcocks were actually singing about being orgasm addicts, but I thought it would be better if I didn’t share that little bit with you. A good song, but hardly one that could be seen as politically motivated. At any rate, while there was a time in my life when I would have been standing on the hoods of the fat cat SUV’s owned by these locals; shaking my weak fist mightily in the air in consolidation with these bands – and their rants – I found myself this time instead just walking happily along. Using the racing beat of each song to keep my speed up and my heart rate going. As I did, I realized that I had lost my bite. Or my fight. Or possibly a little bit of both. The rage that originally drew me to listen to, and enjoy, bands such as The Exploited and Charged G.B.H. had dissipated. The urge to change the world that I previously felt strongly enough as to align myself with bands like The Clash and The Jam had mellowed. Instead of seething in hatred at these houses of wealth – these false temples created in false praise to the (false) individual – I simply just walked on at a good clip, and enjoyed the brisk, free air instead. The air that belonged to almost only me.
So as Billy Bragg sang to me of which side I was on (shut up! Billy Bragg was so too punk!), I found myself answering him with a “neither.” As Fear screamed at me that we should start a war, I simply told them that I would much rather not. And when Burning Sensation once again informed me that “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole,” I smiled the old smile that I’ve always smiled when I heard that song. But this time, it was much more out of a feeling of fond adieu than it was because I actually thought it was funny.
OK, it’s still kind of funny.
So have I given up? Have I given in? I don’t think it’s either, really. I’m hoping at least that it’s much more a case of I’ve grown up. The Anti-Nowhere League may hate people, but I can’t say that I do. Even IF there were far more dogs who looked me in the eye and introduced themselves, on my solitary Sunday journey, than there were dog owners who did the same. And The Circle Jerks may very well fear the day that the shit hits the fan. But not me. Not anymore at least. If it does, it will. Raging against it’s inevitability will do nothing more to stop it than ignoring it will. And Henry. Dear sweet Henry and the rest of the boys from Black Flag may jump up and down, demanding that we give them give them give them some more. But as for me, I’ve enough. Enough for now. I’ve me and mine, and we’re doing OK.
Now as the title implies, when I first started this post, I had thought that it would be Black Flag’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” that was going to end it. A proper ditty, especially when trying to show off your punk rock pedigree. But in the final analysis – and ironically enough – it is actually The Damned who will be having the last say today. You see, whether they were being tongue in cheek or not – and I’m quite sure that they were – by the time I had finished my walk, all that I really had to say about the experience was that the locals could keep their parcels, as long as I had the sky. It made me glad to say it really had been a lovely day, and it’s OK.
While not a Christmas tradition per say, tomorrow will see me performing one more ritual for the holiday season. This one is relatively new, a scant nine years old, and it is a tradition that i would be much happier without. You see, tomorrow, i will place all my Christmas music to the side and spend the day listening solely to decidedly non-seasonal tunes laid down by The Clash, The 101ers and The Mescalero’s instead. Why you ask? Especially this close to the blessed babe’s birth? Well, it’s because all three of the bands noted above were at one time led by a certain Joe Strummer, and tomorrow just happens to mark the ninth anniversary of his death.
“So? Big Whoop – it’s not like you knew the guy or anything, right?” Right. i didn’t know him, but i could swear that he knew me. At least it seemed that way, since he so often spoke almost directly to my concerns, my fears and my outrage. Across space and time he – along with his band mates – helped me to understand at a tender age not only the world around me, but my place in it as well. As i mentioned previously, Joe and the boys defended my right to be me, only after first helping me understand who i was in the first place. Prior to their introduction, i was lost – well, more lost than afterwards – in a sea of confusion, with my floundering about wondering who i was exactly, and why i couldn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Joe helped me to see that we’re all in the same boat. That no one truly ever “fits in” anywhere, so you just have a find a somewhere to your liking. And if none exist that you’re partial too, then just go out and make your own. Sooner or later others will join you, and in the end, you’ll either find your “fit”, or it will find you.
Musically speaking, years before Darin would solidify the thought, Strummer planted the seed in me that it was OK – cool even – to dig all kinds of music, instead of simply keeping to one narrow tunnel or another. Through him, i was introduced not only to punk of the intelligent variety, but also reggae, dub, garage, rap and the groundwork for what would many years later would be called “revival swing”. I could almost make a case for his dabbling in gothic music as well, but my argument just doesn’t have enough teeth to pull it off. Regardless, as a result of his example, i can now enjoy both my punk and my broadway, my metal and my bossa nova. Heck, i could even like country if it wanted to. i just don’t want to.
Regardless of the musical style used to best get his point across at any given time, Joe also helped me to understand that it’s quite all right to announce your disgust over injustices that you see. It’s fine and/or dandy to stand one up against a hundred, as long as you know that the hundred are wrong, and that the One is right. He helped me to recognize that my voice was important, just by it’s mere existence. However, he also let me know that my voice shouldn’t be heard until it was informed, committed, and capable of having a positive effect over a negative one.
Now, did Joe have the same impact on me as other arms-length luminaries such as Martin Luther King, Jr., C.S. Lewis or Jesus even? No. But he certainly let me know – with a very cool British accent by the way – that inspiration doesn’t only come from history books or the bible. It can come from your shoulder-slung boom box or scrawled across the back of a record sleeve as well. He let me know that intelligence is a right that must be exercised by every citizen regardless of their social standing, and complacency is not an option. In short, he – along with a long string of others – helped me to become the man i am today. And while he may be no more deserving of praise than anyone else in that long string, today just happens to be the anniversary of the day he died unexpectedly of heart failure, leaving the world a little poorer in the process. As such, i feel it’s right and proper to celebrate his life – and his impact on mine – by placing all my Christmas music to the side and spending the day with The Clash, The 101ers and The Mescalero’s instead.
i could go on in even mushier detail about the impact Joe has had on me, all while trying desperately to describe his ideology further (and my kinship towards it as a result), but i think he said it much better than i ever could, and as such, i’ll allow him to wrap up this post in words befitting:
“And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanized. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”
― Joe Strummer, 1952 – 2002
* The title of this post is a comment made by Joe Strummer when being asked how he would like his name to appear during the introduction to the documentary about him called “The Future Is Unwritten.“
i know, it should have been The Ramones. They seem to be the natural choice for so many others at any rate. But for me, it was The Clash. Always has been and most likely always will be. If you came up to me (after living for more than thirty and some odd years in a bomb shelter or cave of some sort i suppose) and asked, “what is punk?” i would most likely first shake my head slowly in disbelief. Then i would hand you a copy of “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” and tell you to start there.
Mind you, The Clash wasn’t my first experience with this thing called “punk rock”. And they weren’t my second either. In fact, had a high school friend not accidentally given me a mixed tape containing both the Sex Pistols and Generation X, instead of whatever heavy metal bands i had actually requested, i might have never “found” The Clash at all. Needless to say, i’m glad my friend screwed up.
The Sex Pistols were offensive, brash and loud, and unlike any heavy metal band i had previously heard in that they quite frankly didn’t give a damn. It came through with every lyric and every poorly played note. Honestly, i loved their bravado far more than their music, and it was only the unsettling twinge coming from deep in my gut – telling me that i might have had just stumbled upon what i would someday end up calling “tribe” – that kept me intrigued. That being said, it did end up taking me years to truly enjoy The Pistols, and other than the fact that they pretty much gave a “face” to punk, i still don’t have much use for them.
Side B of my mix tape had the somewhat more talented Generation X, fronted by a then unknown Billy Idol. While still punk in brashness and snotty attitude, these kids sounded much more put-together musically. Almost like they were trying hard to sound bad. You could also “hear” that they very much dressed the “Rock Star” part because, well, they very much wanted to be Rock Stars. Just in their own way. And of the four, at least one was successful for a spell. Another was just almost with his little project called Sigue Sigue Sputnik (if you’ve never heard of them, skip it – it’s way too late to check them out now since everything they originated has been re-originated by others at later dates, just more successfully). But i digress. In fact, if digression was an invoice-able service, i would be rather wealthy at this point of my blogging career. But again, i find myself digressing even in my digression. So, moving on. All said, Generation X was good – real good. But much like the Pistols, for me they were missing the mark. What the mark i was hoping they would hit was exactly, i had no idea, but miss it they did. As such, the search for “the band” that could really trip my newly found punk rock trigger continued.
Whoever first told me about the Clash, i’m not sure. No, wait, actually i am. It was well before i even received the eye-opening, ear-popping tape noted above. i first heard of them from both my classmates and advertisers when they opened for The Who on their infamous farewell tour. The first one. At the time i was listening to – well, i’m not sure as to what i actually was listening to at the time. Haven’t the faintest idea now. But i did know that The Clash was no band for me – for the obvious reason that they couldn’t be any sort of good if they didn’t play the type of music (and i really do wish i could figure out what that was now…) that i was involved with at the time. The second time i heard of them, i can’t remember who told me or why. But i do remember that the first disc (of the vinyl variety) i bought to test them out was “Combat Rock“. i won’t tell you i had any sort of “instant audio orgasm” upon first hearing it, because i didn’t. It was OK. Strong A side, but a weird B. Gladly, my impression of the first side won out, because my next purchase was to put the first and last nail in my Clash coffin. That’s right, next up i bought “Sandinista!“. No, no, no, my next purchase was “London Calling” of course. And like everyone else on the planet who has ever heard it (with open ears at any rate), my Clash fandom was solidified. So much so, that i eventually did go out and buy even “Sandinista!“, and after many listens grew to finally understand, and later enjoy, its musical depths as well.
And i believe that’s why i love the Clash so much – it’s because they were Solid. Good. Difficult. In short, i believe they respected their craft, their audience – and music in general – enough as to not make it easy to “get” the first time ’round. In addition, they refused to cut corners in their music or lyrics, and they used both to raise awareness instead of just press. They sang about things that mattered, things that needed changing. Just the other day i was explaining to my youngest what it meant when Joe sang “let me tell you ’bout your blood, bamboo kid – it ain’t Coca Cola, it’s rice…”. Genius in effectively comparing two totally different cultures that once, collided just long enough to start an entirely “new breed” to the human race. A breed that is shunned by both sides of its ancestry. A breed that found a champion in a little punk band from London, U.K. known as The Clash.
As i mentioned before, i know that it should have been the Ramones, but their 2 minute tracks of blister and volume simply serve to bore and annoy me after not too long. With The Clash, i can listen again and again. i know it should have been The Ramones in that without them, you wouldn’t even have The Clash. But in all honesty, without The Clash, we might not have punk rock music at all.
For while the Ramones may have given punk the sound and the fury – and The Pistols gave it the look and the attitude – it took The Clash to provide it with it’s intelligence and it’s Soul, and it has survived thirty and some odd years as a result.
And that is why i like The Clash. Now, why do you?