“punk wasn’t a musical style”

I’m waiting for Clementine to fall asleep, drinking a well-deserved beer, and skipping around the internet, looking for archival footage from the early days of CBGBs. And, in the process, I happened across this segment from the 1995 PBS documentary entitled Rock and Roll. I think I saw it when it was first broadcast, but I’d completely forgotten about it. Among other things, it contains some incredible footage of the painfully awkward Talking Heads at the beginning of their career. Looking back on the CBGB scene at that time, David Byrne had the following to say… “Punk wasn’t a musical style. Or, at least, it shouldn’t have been. To many people it turned into a particular musical style. (But) it was more like, a do-it-yourself – anyone can do it attitude. If you could only play two notes on the guitar, you could figure out a way to make a song out of that. And that’s what it was about.”

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  1. tommy
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if it was the same documentary or not, but I distinctly recall Neil Young talking about the timing not being right in america to embrace alternative or punk music in the 70s as opposed to how it took off in england. Timing was perfect – in his view – for Nirvana. Loved the Heads, loved the Replacements, loved the music – still do. Thanks for the video Mark. Don’t know why, but every time I see the Ramones, I feel sad for them. Would probably feel otherwise if they flamed out rather than being produced by Phil Spector or making Rock and Roll High School. However, I still have a thing for P.J. Soles who was one fine specimen!

  2. Posted September 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    PJ Soles is pretty high up on the list of people that I’d like to interview. I think she’d be exponentially more interesting to talk with than, say, Angelina Jolie. And, yeah, I think it’s the same documentary. There’s lots of talk of timing. Johnny Rotten says that punk didn’t work here in the states because we were too well off economically… I love the early punk scene because it encompasses everyone from the Ramones and Patti Smith to the Talking Heads and Television. The scope is incredible. It’s amazing to me that it all came out of the same crucible…. And it sickens me to think that now punk is synonymous with Green Day.

  3. the rejected
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink


  4. Edward
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I would love to make a movie where the ghosts of the three dead Ramones come back from the dead to haunt the asshole who sings for Green Day. It would be like the Dickens story, only, in the end, they’d killed the guy. It would kind of be a mix between A Christmas Carol and Rock and Roll High School, only with a really graphic murder at the end.

  5. Posted September 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    To their credit, GD was openly saying they weren’t punk anymore in the wake of Dookie coming out, though I think they have re-claimed their punk status more recently with the Broadway musical, etc. It makes me sick that punk is considered the Sex Pistols and a year-long fashion fad in London is supposedly what “authentically punk” means.

  6. Ariek
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    What is dookie?

  7. Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    It means taking a shit and was the breakthrough Green Day album in 1994 (the year the punk music died).

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