Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen

Punk's annus mirabilis, 1977, is as distant from us as the middle of the second world war was to the young Sex Pistols. By chance, it coincided with the silver jubilee, locking Johnny Rotten and the Queen together in a regular cycle of anniversaries until one of them dies.
wrote Dorian Lynskey in the Guardian yesterday. So today's music video choice was easy to make.

Back in February I suggested that punk is no longer feared because it has become part of the pageantry of our history much as the teddy boys did before them.

I quoted a local newspaper report from 1977 that Geoffrey Pearson had used in his book Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears:
Bradford Teddy Boys turned the clock back 20 years on Saturday when they gathered at an open-air concert in the city centre. To the delight of shoppers who stopped to watch they revived some of their favourite dances like the solo bop and the catwalk.
One of the things I do in my day job is write, edit and commission news stories for our website. I had the bright idea of asking a psychologist to comment on this phenomenon and turn it into a story for the Jubilee weekend.

But when the person I asked got back to me he said that he hated the idea. Punks were bad people and if teddy boys were popular by 1977 it was because they were no longer stabbing people.

Well, it's a point of view. But, though it might explain why teddy boys were no longer feared at the time of the Silver Jubilee, it does not explain the public affection for them. Maybe time smooths too many rough edges, but it is a real phenomenon.

In my post from February I pointed out that John Lydon was in danger of joining the establishment by recording the new Public Image Ltd album at Steve Winwood's studio in the Cotswolds. (And not just the musical establishment - one of Winwood's daughters recently married Camilla Parker Bowles' nephew.)

Lydon talked about the experience in an interview with Our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
Q: Is it true you recorded the album at Stevie Winwood's studio? 
A: "Yeah, it was the only place we could afford. It was his barn, in the middle of the Cotswolds, with nothing for inspiration but sheep - and I don't like sheep particularly." 
Q: Did Stevie Winwood come to the sessions? 
A: "He did, but only with one ear to the barn door, and then he pretended to be watering the daisies. So he never contributed, but it was great he rented us the studio."


Mark said...

One of the greatest rock singles ever.

And that's irrespective of the circumstances surrounding its release and lyrics. It's extraordinarily powerful.

Mr Right Wing said...

Why are liberals so intent on the adulation of musical trash such as the Sex Pistols?