Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Tomorrow's lecture is on subversion, and after a broad sweep of music associated with social agitation, I have of course landed on punk.
I wanted to download The Rolling Stones' Some Girls, but it's just about to be re-released so thankfully I couldn't. I went to print out the lyrics and then decided that they are so utterly offensive that I couldn't read them out in class.
Sometimes people used to ask me why I wrote the song Thrush. After a diet of the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and so on (even Girls by the Moments and Whatnauts), I had no alternative. Time to say it from the girl's perspective, being on the receiving end, so to speak!
As usual I have really enjoyed researching this lecture: I have re-visited Robin Denselow's When the Music's Over, and blended in with Charlie Gillett's The Sound of the City, Mark Katz's Capturing Sound, Mark Cunningham's Good Vibrations, Simon Frith's On Record and George Lipsitz's Dangerous Crossroads, I will have visited aspects of 20th century pop and rock from all sorts of different perspectives.
It has revived my interest in very early recordings, in folk music in the UK (Ewan McColl and Pete Seeger tomorrow as well as the SLits and X Ray Spex), and in pre-rock'n'roll r'n'b.
I'm even going to wheel out the hippies tomorrow.
Soft Machine or Curved Air anyone?


Wilky of St Albans said...

Was Punk subversive? I might be tempted to argue that punk stopped being subversive when the second punk band formed, on the basis the first band might have been subversive, but the second could be seen as copycats.

As with any subculture, an awful lot of the followers are just plain wallies. People cashed in. Some did very nicely thankyou.

Would all those subversive punks have been subversive had they not been prompted by having a new fad to follow? All sounds a bit sheeplike to me.

Bet you're glad I'm not one of your students! (I could expand the above into 2000 words by monday if you like Miss)

***awaits inevitable abuse***

Helen McCookerybook said...

Well, thank you Wilky; you have reminded me that I need to be specific about the fact that I am talking about bands and not the punk rockers themselves.
The Clash weren't; but the Raincoats and the Slits were and I would argue that the Sex Pistols were.
Lots of bands jumped on the bandwagon (sic).
Being an anarchic form of behaviour for a lot of people, the subversion was personal-as-political, so it would depend on who you are, where you were and what you were doing.
Incidentally, I am using the Mods as an example of subversion, but alternative rather than oppositional subversion!

Wilky of St Albans said...

I think I'd like a definition of 'Punk'. (rhetorical question)

What appears to have been written out of history is Pub Rock. The Father of Punk, of just dodgy blokes trying not to sound too much like Status Quo? How many punk bands were just rebrands?

Right, lets see if I can find someone doing 'Louie Louie' on youtube......

Monty said...

And why did'nt you ever play "thrush" live on stage!

Monty said...

And why did'nt you ever play "Thrush" live on stage!