Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Relevent or Dinosaur?

Continuing on with our inane banter, Lauren and I started in on the mother of all music conversations in my little world. Is punk rock dead? Or, as she put it, "Is it relevent?" I knew this was headed for a good blogging the second we started discussing. As usual, Lauren is ready to throw down right then and there, she's a "wanna go?" type girl. Sticking to my true self, I refused to answer until I'd had some time to think about it. I don't like to put stuff out there in the heat of the moment and then regret it later.

So, what do I really think about the whole punk thing? First of all, it's an overused and frequently misappropriated word. It's been banging about since the mid-60's, so if you want to get technical, it really was originally applied to some garage bands in the 60's. Hardly what you think of when you hear the word punk. The first wave of what I, and many others, consider punk happened right here in the good old USA in the mid-late 70's. You know the suspects, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, etc.. I believe the true spirit behind these artists was their willingness to create music outside of what was popular at the time, which was the famous arena rock and, cough..sputter.., excuse me, hacking up a hairball, disco. In short, it was anti-corporate, individualistic, sometimes snotty, but honest music.

Now, if we're going to go there with this definition, let's think about the climate of today's world. Is or is not music even more corporate dictated than ever before? Is or is it not even more difficult for bands to be recognized for their merit versus their income earning potential? I think these are the real questions underlying the relevence of a punk scene these days. Yes, punk is clearly a type of music, but almost as important is the do-it-yourself attitude that comes with it. So is it dead? I think the answer is a resounding "no."

The scene exists because it has to. Should age matter regarding relevence? This is the other question I've heard from both Lauren and others pondering the whole punk thing. I guess my feeling is, no. As long as the music does not stagnate and rely on past reputation alone, age of said band members should not matter. I don't hear anyone telling Bono that he is irrelevent. Nope. They buy his albums at warp speed and U2 continues to have an audience of all ages. So, apply that principle to any music if you wish. It's relevent if your fanbase tells you it's relevent. If young kids are going to your show and your music is fueling their fire, it's relevent. Plus, I kind of feel, once a punk, always a punk. Maybe an older, more realistic punk, but still a punk. I don't even want to get into the whole idealism of youth vs. the realism of adults. Think action. If it's happening , good.

Punk isn't your clothes or your hair. It's need and desire driven. Yes, it's a style of music, but a very broad style of music. Another conversation for another day. So, as long as there are garages and basements full of boys with bands and problems or adults who've had it with corporate dictated music or are sick of the government and are going to tell you about it, punk will exist. As for relevence, I dare you to go to any show and ask the people there if it's relevent. 'Nuff said.

6 comments:

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lulu said...

I wasn't ready to "throw down" I was asking a serious question, one that I don't think I have enough knowledge to answer. Besides, I like baiting you, you know? Particularly about music, because you get all twitchy.

I do think however, that the whole DIY spirit of punk has gone missing, at least from most of the groups that call themseves "punk". If you are on a major label and you're playing arenas, you aren't punk anymore.

Tenacious S said...

Go ask Billy Joe Armstrong if he's still a punk. He pulled himself and his band up by the bootstraps with his teeth. Do I think that the record label has begun to dictate his sound and style a bit since they now own him? Yes. Think contract and executives.

Tenacious S said...

I clearly don't have enough to do.

lulu said...

I'm sure Billy Joe considers himself punk. I consider myself amazingly cool and hip. The rest of the world may think otherwise.

Tenacious S said...

F-Bomb the world! You know who you are. I think that's kind of the whole point. Labels can put the name "punk" on something, but that doesn't make it so (Good Charlotte would be my case in point). I think it's the spirit of the thing that counts.