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Indie Rock Music Punk Song of the Day

Song of the Day (A-Z): Minutemen – History Lesson Part 2

This blogpost is dedicated to the memory of D. Boon. RIP.

Day 8 (H) & it’s History Lesson (Part 2) by Minutemen. You almost certainly know a Minutemen song, even if you’ve never heard of them. Their song Corona was made world famous by it’s use as the theme music for Jackass. I find this amusing as, lyrically, it’s a very intelligent song about US foreign policy in central America. For it to be then used for a show like Jackass. Hilarious.

D. Boon, 1985

History Lesson (Part 2) is about the origins of the Minutemen (“Me & Mike Watt played for years”, “we drove up from Pedro”) and also engages in some mythmaking & world building for the Punk Rock community. “This is Bob Dylan to me” is intended to equate the acclaim Dylan enjoys with Punk Rock music, lending it a sense of legitimacy which we take for granted in 2020. There was a time when this music was viewed as obscene & talentless noise. In the here & now, it is the fountainhead of most of the music we listen to from Hip-Hop to Alternative Rock. The lyrics also take pains to point out the normality of the band members, D. Boon, Mike Watt & George Hurley. This is what is being addressed by the opening couplet “Our band could be your life, real names’d be proof”.

Our band could be your life
Real names’d be proof
Me and mike watt played for years
Punk rock changed our lives

We learned punk rock in Hollywood
Drove up from Pedro
We were fucking corn dogs
We’d go drink and pogo

Mr. Narrator
This is Bob Dylan to me
My story could be his songs
I’m his soldier child

Our band is scientist rock
But I was E. Bloom and Richard Hell
Joe Strummer, and John Doe
Me and Mike Watt, playing guitar

As a bonus, while searching for a decent video of History Lesson (Part 2) I found this lovely video, from 2009, of bassist Mike Watt reading the lyrics & explaining a little about what they were saying and how they were wrote. Notice how Watt’s eyes seem to tear up and he chokes slightly on his words when he mentions bandmate D. Boon. Boon was killed in a road vehicle accident in 1985, when Minutemen were at the peak of their power & facing a bright & successful career. I hope you enjoy.

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Indie Rock Post Punk Punk

Wire – The Art of Persistence

I was surprised, pleasantly, by the release of a new Wire single today. A reworked version of The Art of Persistence from their forthcoming compilation of reworks and stray (I’m guessing they mean unreleased) tunes, 10:20.

10:20 was initially conceived as a Record Store Day exclusive but after the organisers pushed the event back due to the pandemic, Wire decided to release the album on 19th June, reading it today with The Art of Persistence. Originally intended as a vinyl only release, 10:20 will be released on all platforms in the absence of Record Store Day. 

The Art of Persistence is a hauntingly atmospheric slice of almost elegiac New Wave. The lyrics seem to detail failed attempts to communicate, saddened by the anxiety of failure. “Persistence, survival, a test of the wills”, sings Colin Newman, giving this Communicative impasse an almost competitive element which is helped along by the quick pace of the songs galloping rhythms. 

Wire previously released Small Black Reptile in March, which also appears on 10:20. Both singles are available now from digital outlets & streaming services.

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Music Punk

RIP Stranglers keyboard player, Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield, keyboard player with the Strangers has died at 71, after testing positive for Covid-19.

His band members paid tribute to him.

 On the evening of Sunday May 3rd, my great friend and longstanding colleague of 45 years, the musical genius that was Dave Greenfield, passed away as one of the victims of the Great Pandemic of 2020.

All of us in the worldwide Stranglers’ family grieve and send our sincerest condolences to [Greenfield’s wife] Pam.

 Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel, Bassist

We have just lost a dear friend and music genius, and so has the whole world.

Dave was a complete natural in music. Together, we toured the globe endlessly and it was clear he was adored by millions. A huge talent, a great loss, he is dearly missed.

Jet Black, Drummer

I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave Greenfield. He was the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band. His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band.

Hugh Cornwell, Singer/Guitarist

Greenfield’s organ and keyboard playing gave the Stranglers a unique sound among the furore of three chord, guitar/bass/drums punk combos crowding the late ’70’s music industry, prompting comparisons to ’60’s psyche-rockers The Doors.

Greenfield wrote the bands biggest hit, Golden Brown, which reached #2 in the UK charts in 1982.

Hs impressive and energetic playing can be seen and heard on this Top of the Pops performance of another hit single, No More Heroes.

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Indie Rock Music Punk

Underground Rockers Vol.2

I came across this interesting 1992 compilation album while searching for Suicide Alley by Manic Street Preachers, as research for a piece I’m writing about Lo-Fi music. Not only does this compilation include Suicide Alley, but it also includes the B-side, Tennessee (I Get Low). This was later rerecorded for their debut album proper, Generation Terrorists, but this lower fidelity version was just what I was looking for for my Lo-Fi piece.

The original sleeve for Suicide Alley/Tennessee (I Get Low), 1988. Not at all inspired by the first Clash LP. image courtesy of Discogs.

Underground Rockers Vol.2 contains two songs each from several bands: H.D.Q., Senseless Things, The Abs, The Price, Manic Street Preachers, Identity and Suspect Device. It’s pretty much a punk album. It ranges from shout along ’70’s style, ’80’s hardcore and even ’90’s pop punk. I had personally never heard many of these bands before but I enjoyed the album and thought it deserved some publicity. It is an excellent time capsule for the British punk scene in the early ’90’s.

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Indie Rock Music Punk

Thurston Moore – Various Pandemic Bandcamp Releases

Since the start of the lockdown, Sonic Youth guitarist & singer Thurston Moore has been steadily releasing unreleased archive material on his Bandcamp page. Since Moore has been kind enough to publish the lyrics to each track, and because he’s one of my favourite lyricists, I’ll reprint them here.

It started on 23rd March with TELEGRAPH which was written while touring with his former band Chelsea Light Moving in 2014. This track was originally performed on KEXP-FM under the title The Exstasie but later remixed in London.

Here’s where the mantra begins 
Where the wildfires reach for the wind 
Blue days break for yr pleasure 
And the gold rays color yr skin 
Here’s where we make our commotion 
Where the amplifiers all cry 
Raise yr guitar to sky devotion 
Let the high priests sing out the night 
And where do all the evil crazies go 
The drunken dripping demons down below 
This is where the messages rise above 
Shooting stars and candles lit for love 
Here’s where we fall into light dreams 
Where the flowers sweetly incite bees 
Yr guitar is a honey suck angel 
Drumsticks play in the free breeze 
And why do all the oceans erupt 
And all the mountains crumble to dust 
Destruction with no hope and no prayer 
Telegraph yr soul into the clear 

Next came a track called SUNDAY STAGE on 29th March. This was recorded circa-2013 by Chelsea Light Moving.

Sunday stage 
The ripped up page 
We’ll stay up late 
Til sunday babe 

Hush Arbors 
The dripping slurs 
The crushing verbs 
The smashing thirst 

NO GO, released on 4th April is a straightforward punk thrasher. Another Chelsea Light Moving recording from 2013.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL 
STAY WHERE YOU ARE 
SAY WHAT YOU WILL 
STAY WHERE YOU ARE 
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO 
NO GO 
NO GO 
NO GO 
NO GO 

INSTANT TRANSCENDENT CONJECTURE followed on 15th April. This was recorded by TMG (Thurston Moore Group) in 2016 during sessions for their Rock n Roll Consciousness album. According to Moore, it is a “cryptic suggestion into the realization of the poem as a springing into nature.”

WILD CRY STREAKING HEART REACTION 
ELEKTRO SOUL MAGNETIC ATTRACTION 

SOUNDING ROOM TELEVISON 
FREEDOM FLOWERS LIVE EXPLOSION 

INSTANT TRANSCENDENT CONJECTURE 
FEROCIOUS COHERENT REFLECTOR 

WILD CRY STREAKING HEART REACTION 
ELEKTRO SOUL MAGNETIC ATTRACTION 
REALIZATION COMPELLED TO RAPTURE 
COMPELLS A POEM TO IT’S CAPTURE 

MAY DAZE, released on 1st May is another Thurston Moore group recording. In the words of Thurston it is “a soundtrack for our usa sisters + brothers to register as voters today, if you still need to – we can change the world – free all political prisoners – insurrection for common decency – rock n roll consciousness – more to come”.

You must be on some kind of revolution kick 
Modernity is on the line and says you’re making them sick 
Wars and borders, prisons and swords we don’t understand how 
Let’s already overthrow overthrowing now 

I’m not the type of guy 
Who wants to change the world 
She’s not the type of guy 
He’s a new century girl 

Transparency especially in your soldier’s dress 
Screw policy if you’re in prison then we’re the one’s under arrest 
Star children have taken over they’re broadcasting peace 
Time and space have no place for a sister who needs to be free 

I’m not the type of guy 
Who wants to change the world 
She’s not the type of guy 
He’s just a new century girl 

You took me by surprise 
When you dared me to 
Glitter everything with change 
And i’ll break the rules with you

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Categories
Folk Music Punk

Billy Bragg – Can’t Be There Today

Can’t be there today is a slow and mournful folk ballad with clever and thought-provoking lyrics about the world we currently live in, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The arrangement is very minimal composed entirely from gently strummed guitar chords, lap steel and Billy’s distinctive voice.

The lyrics mournfully detail the things we are missing out on as result of the lockdown like weddings, gigs, Mother’s Day and other things which we took for granted just a few short months ago. The chorus turns this mournful listing into a positive, stating that “I love you and that’s why I’m going to stay away”.

Can’t Be There Today is a moving request to everyone to please be patient and to think of your loved ones and relatives in this unprecedented time of existential terror and simultaneous boredom.

Here’s the song and I’ll reprint the lyrics below, as they’re so important.

Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
An invite to a wedding
That no one can attend
A poster for a show that never happened
Two tickets for a holiday
I can longer spend
And a gift for Mothers Day I won’t be wrapping
This is all I’m left with
In a world that’s been shut down
I wannna come see you mum
But I fear that thing I might bring in

[Chorus]
So I’m sending you this message
With a heavy heart to say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s I’m gonna to stay away”

[Verse 2]
It feels like hope has been postponed
All plans put on hold
Prospects fade and expectations shattered
But all through these uncertain days
I’ve come to understand
Those few precious things that truly matter
Mama you’ve been on my mind
As the world has slipped away
Promise me you’ll do the things
That must be done in the days to come

[Chorus]
I don’t know when I’ll get the chance
To hug you so I wanna say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s why I’m gonna to stay away”

[Outro]
The time will come when this is done
And I won’t have to say
“I miss you but I can’t be there today
I love you and that’s why I’m gonna to stay away”

Lyrics courtesy of Genius

As an unrelated bonus to this blogpost here’s a better picture of that beautiful guitar Billy’s playing in the pic at the top.

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Categories
Hip Hop Music Punk

Beastie Boys, late ‘80’s – Youthful Beastie Hijinks

Okay, see, what had happened was…I had a ticket to go see Bobby McFerrin, right, and you know, it was like, ’88 or’89 and Don’t Worry, Be Happy was a huge song and so I wanted to go and see what the fuss was all about. And I guess during the show I tried to start a mosh pit, and so security escorted me out. Adam and Mike were gonna pick me up outside at like 11:00, but it was only like 9, and so I hit the liquor store on the corner and sat on some steps to hang out to wait for them. They forgot to pick me up, but then remembered in the morning. I’m not sure, but I think the moral of this story is, get a tall boy instead of a 40.

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz

And finally, here’s some music. Probably recorded around the time that the photo was taken. Depending on the reliability of Ad-Rock’s memory.

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Indie Rock Music Punk

Happy Birthday Kim Gordon

Happy birthday to the indie rock megastar that is Kim Althea Gordon. Best known as the bass player in legendary indie rock innovators Sonic Youth, she also has a long career as a visual artist.

After Sonic Youth, Gordon formed the band Body/Head in 2012, a noise guitar project which released an album and toured the US. In 2015 she published her memoir, Girl in a Band, which received critical acclaim and sold well.

She returned in 2019 with her first proper solo album, No Home Record. An experimental collection of exploratory electronic music with influences as diverse as hip hop, no wave and noise rock. This album too received critical acclaim.

Today we wish Kim a happy birthday.

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