3.03.2004

Old Punks Never Die

1983 Decatur, GA - My neighbor Tommy and I were sitting in his living room listening to records. Tommy pulls out an album with a pink cover.
"Check this out, man!" he crowed.
The needle hit vinyl and a gahdawful racket issued forth.
"That's terrible!" I yelled over the din.
Disappointed, Tommy took the record off.
"What was that?!" I wanted to know.
"Aw, man. That was the Sex Pistols!"
I'd heard of those guys...this was punk rock?!
"Dude, they can't even play their instruments. Put some AC/DC on!"

1988 Seattle, WA - I'm at Derek's house. We've got some friends over. I pull out a cassette and stick it in the player.
"Dudes, check this out!" I crow, pressing play.
"Hunted Down" comes on.
"That's terrible!" Derek yelled over the din.
"What is that?!" He wanted to know.
"Aw, man. That was Soundgarden!" I say, disappointed.
"Dude, you're always listening to that weird shit. Put some Journey on!"

I was imaging a picture on Malcolm McLaren (on his way to bail out Sid Vicious for stabbing his girlfriend Nancy Spungon) this morning and that got me thinking about that afternoon in Tommy's living room. I started surfing around for pictures of all the bands I could think of from '77-'79 and through www.largeheartedboy.com I found some old school punk mp3's to listen to.
Looking at photos of Siouxie and Nancy and Johnny and Darby, I thought about how wild that time must've been. How all these people were trying to forge something new -- even though the their modus was (ironically) rather reactionary. If anything, I believe it was the art/post-punks who actually succeeded (in a very small way), but man -some of those songs I hadn't heard in over a decade, if not longer!
Maybe I've written about it before, but I got "turned on" to punk shortly after I graduated from high school. This guy who was a friend of Derek's (and had moved to California) used to send him mix tapes of the stuff he was into. Derek wasn't interested, I got hold of them. I remember Nick sent one with Black Flag's "American Waste" on it...follow by Motley Crue's "Live Wire". What a revelation! I could see how one informed the other. Both songs were fast and aggro. I immediately started buying cassettes by The Clash, Husker Du, The Sex Pistols, Angry Samoans, Ramones, etc. I watched "Another State of Mind" eagerly.
I was too intimidated to go to shows...that came later. It's funny 'cause I never indentified myself as 'a punk', 'cause ffrankly I thought dressing a certain way to show you were "legit" was kinda silly. I didn't feel I had anything to prove and since my earliest and most profound struggle is to just be me, I wasn't going to take on anyone else's uniform. However, the early 80's was fucked up...but much less so than the naughts have been. The stakes are higher, because enviromental disaster could kill us just as dead as nuclear war...and it's not a question of 'if' but 'when!'
Anyway, I don't know what the point of all this was other than to say it was great crankin' the old tunes. Odd to be nostalgic for something I was never part of. Heh.
I'll have to dig around in my cassette collection and see if there's anything I can rip to the hard drive...wouldn't that be something?

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