Joking with a friend this morning about The Jam vs The Clash contest, as we often do, got me thinking about the legacy of Punk and what it means to me today. Not much, to be honest. In theory it should mean more. It changed people’s lives, changed music forever, changed the world and so on, supposedly. For some, it probably did; they made careers out of badges, t-shirts, promoting bands and running labels. Oh, and playing music. The UK Subs are probably still touring.
Punk did happen at a time when I was ripe for Political Thinking, although as I wrote recently, it wasn’t until a few years later that I became a Socialist. ‘Anarchy’ was a lyric to most people I knew, not a philosophy, We were too busy getting pissed and destroying our brain cells. On the positive side, I started making fanzines. They were rubbish, but so what, being rubbish was OK. I still think it is, in a way. I once wrote a piece in praise of Bad Writing. That’s ‘bad’ as in bad, not ‘ba-a-ad muthafucker’, of course. I’m not qualified to write about that kind of bad. I was born in the sticks, and the baddest thing I did was knock on doors and run away. Well, I was on the dole.Waiting for the bus after a gig at Friars was a bad experience due to marauding Soul Boys out for Punk scalps. Luckily my dress code was too subtle for them to recognise. The irony is that, had they given me a good kicking, they would have been putting the boot into someone who loved Funk and Soul as much as they did. Thankfully, it never came to that, but I was fully prepared to cry out the complete lyrics to The Ohio Players’ ‘Fire’ had things gone the other way. Conveniently, the vocals on that particular classic consist of a fair bit of grunting.
Thoughts of Punk made me dig up Caroline Coon’s book from 1977. I still enjoy flicking through, and I’ve had it since then, so it must mean something. A scrap book in place of non-existent photos of me? Perhaps. A memento of the times, definitely.