Thursday, February 09, 2006

NOTHING AS SAD AS AN OLD PUNK

Estate agent and light entertainment chatshow guest John Lydon has been railing against Green Day, because, of course, they're not punk like he was:

"Don't try and tell me Green Day are punk. They're not, they're plonk and they're bandwagoning on something they didn't come up with themselves. I think they are phony."

Did you see that? Plonk not punk. He's the man, isn't he? Never mind that Lydon was happy to whore his supposedly oh-so-rebellious arse around on the nostalgia circuit, singing about being an anarchist to an audience who've turned up in BMWs, providing the money is right, of course.

"The government's against you, the police are on you. So there we are fending off all that and it pisses me off that years later a wank outfit like Green Day hop in and nick all that and attach it to themselves.”

"They didn't earn their wings to do that and if they were true punk they wouldn't look anything like they do."


Lydon seems a little confused here - since he's often opined that the problem with punk was when everyone started to look the same, it's not clear how they can look wrong by not dressing like Lydon's idea of punk.

And while Green Day might have taken a lazy route to success, their anti-Bush rants aimed at a mainstream audience in the Fox News heartlands is arguably a braver move than anything the Pistols ever did, preaching to a small knot of the converted and with nothing to lose. Green Day might not be spitting all over the place, but at least their politics seems to be properly thought through rather than just throwing in Belsen references for kicks.

They didn't earn their wings? Since when was being in a band meant to be like being in the RAF?


32 comments:

Anonymous said...

nah dont agree with you there bloggy. takes a real punk to know a phony punk...or not. lydon = red bull (but a slightly tired, silly one).
i seem to remember him saying almost the exaxt same thing on that tv series years back - 'the punk years'

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're offbase here, pal. Green Day don't need to "earn their wings" to be a band, but call yourself a punk band, and you better have the credentials.

Lydon's pissed that punk is becoming an adjective corporate labels are using to sell records. Punk used to mean a lot more than that. Green Day are just a convenient whipping boy to make Lydon's point.

Apart from the one guy in Green Day having "funny hair" once, there are precious few similarities between Green Day's music and the punk rock of the 70s & 80s.

karl said...

I've tried desperately to avoid commenting here, but I can't. What are these punk rock credentials of which you speak? I'm really hoping that it's a little bit more than appearing on live TV and saying rude words.

Jon Lydon has released records on Virgin, EMI and WEA to name but a few record labels, which is arguably as corporate as you're likely to get.

Anonymous said...

Bad call. Green Day are a pop outfit through and through just like Avril. Missy is a lot closer to punk imo.

Eyetie said...

"The government's against you, the police are on you."

So that would make Pete D punk? Swearing to poor Bill Grundy, doing copious amounts of drugs and killing your girlfriend is guaranteed to get the police and govt on to you but wtf has that got to with the music? Do Green Day need to do a soul-selling tour twenty years after their heyday in order to be punk?

Green Day would probably be a decent name for Lydon as "with envy" and "had his".

PS In the way that Dean Gray's American Edit managed to rail against the government and p!iss off the record industry while still being lyrically and musically gorgeous, I nominate it as the best punk record of 2005. Any other nominees?

Anonymous said...

Well, there was this greatest hits package by John L... oh.

simon h b said...

See, this is the trouble, because punk is a slippery term which means different things to different people. To be honest, I don't really think that Green Day count as punk, either: the first few albums were teenage rock, certainly. But Lydon seems to be suggesting that punk requires an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment stance - and you'd have to allow that in the last few years, Lydon has been selling condos and making celebrity shows for Channel 5, while Green Day have persuaded Viacom to constantly play songs lyrically critical of George Bush and the US government's policies. I know whose side I'd rather be on.

Martin said...

John Lydon obviously thinks Green Day have only been around a couple of years. They have been together since they were all about 15 or 16, and it was years before they had an mainstream recognition. They have really earned any success they have, and I doubt they give a crap if John Lydon thinks they are punk or not.

Anonymous said...

no, im still not having it. i dont think green day are anything more than the american version of oasis (albeit with a slightly more obvious radiohead lean, in terms of lyrics).
what makes lydon's opinion count isnt what he's been doing for the last 15 years, it's what he did previously to that. you cant dismiss the fact that this is the guy who - for a lot of people - 'invented punk', but at the same time loved beefheart, can, traditional irish music, his family, and working in a childrens nursery. his politics/mindset also make a hell of a lot more difference to 70s britain than green day have done with 00s america. dont forget that greenday tried the political-punk thing with songs like 'minority' (marrying political lyrics to more traditional, clash style 'gung ho!' music) and this failed miserably. they only succeeded when they sold out and made their songs sound like bink-182.
the pistols did exactly the same thing, but their records made the difference when sounding like little richard, muddy waters and can being sung by the goonies.
there's your reason why lydon meant it (once) and green day never have done.
anyone thesedays can write a political song - it's as obvious a choice as writing about love, lust and despair. and as edwyn collins once quite brilliantly sang:

"too many protest singers, not enough protest songs"

Anonymous said...

you cant dismiss the fact that this is the guy who - for a lot of people - 'invented punk'

Hmm. And Malcom Mc.Laren invented John Lydon... Be honest, if The Stooges were The Beatles, then Sex Pistols were Oasis.
Having lived through 70's Britain, I have to say that Lydon made less difference to Britain than Basil Brush.

Anonymous said...

well, the mclaren thing is open for debate. i never said i thought lydon invented punk. i dont.
im interested though, if the stooges were the beatles, what role, exactly did the mc5 have?!
as for the living through the 70s thing, i cant compete with you on that one im afraid. but i can say that i think lydon would have had more influence on my life then than green day have now.
but then, influence is a pretty terrible thing really

x

Anonymous said...

When R&B was something else n' all the other genre headings were too, along came some smart-arse who gave us punk. Now aged stars of yester-year are railing at upstarts at their faded bastions. Big deal! More like another aging ex-muso craving a little more attention a little more of the glow of public adulation. I'd watch out Johnnie, maybe the Tubes'll soon be singing outside your window " I was a punk b4 u were a punk, you don't believe me just step outside n see me..."

Anonymous said...

I have been a fan of different music all my life, i was born in the 80's and i grew up in a house full of punk legends as far as i am concerned it's all about the music and what you decide to listen to. To be honest who gives a crap what john lydons got to say about green day? if he doesnt like them thats his choice i personally like the sex pistols and green day but i wouldnt base my political views on anything either of them have to say. I'm an old school Green Day fan and i like 'American Idiot' for what it is, music, i couldnt care less about president bush though, i grew up in sodding doncaster!

Anonymous said...

Lydon has a point. I also lived through 70's Britain, and times were far less tolerant than they are today. When the Sex Pistols were around in 1976 to 1978, being into Punk music really did mean being public enemy number one. Lydon himself was attacked by a maniac with a cut-throat razor and drummer Paul Cook was attacked by two lunatics armed with an iron bar. Their 'crime' was being in a Punk band! There were also numerous death threats flying around plus the constant attention of 'Teddy Boys' who considered themselves at war with Punk rockers. The police were little or no help - and in fact were known on occasion to side with 'anti-punk' factions! One example being the infamous "Jubilee Boat Gig". When the owner of the boat got cold feet about the gig during the trip and docked at the side of the Thames the police laid into perfectly innocent Punks and arrested Malcolm McLaren. When they finally managed to record a single, there were all the problems with record companies falling over themselves to distance themselves from the band (until Virgin Records finally weathered the storm), and most radio stations boycotted their music.
Many bands would have just given up when faced with all this crap being thrown at them, but the Sex Pistols stuck it out and more than any other band FORCED the establishment to accept the movement. So when Lydon says that they went through "hard times" so that bands like Green Day can exist, he is not wrong. Perhaps if a few of the modern-day Punk bands were to give the Sex Pistols some credit as an influence (as the original 1970's Punks had the good grace to do with regard to Iggy Pop) it would be easier for them to be appreciated in return.

Green Day Music Download Guru said...

You obviously know what you are talking about. Great post!

Anonymous said...

who ever said green day were like oasis can go blow a fucking goat.
i couldn't agree more with this blog.
Any way, why does what they label themselves as matter so much? who the fuck cares? apart from lydon. Come the hell on, listen to the music. the music is what matters. American idiot is a conceptual punk masterpiece that provided a lifeline for a disenfranchised generation.
Green day stuck together since they were kids. they've been going strong all these years, through the highs and lows. if any thing, that is punk.
and john lydon? yeah, he may of "created" punk, but..he gave up the sex pistols. and formed god-awful new band "PiL". and that didn't last long. the dudes a douchebag. hes an old man. hes finished. He just can't take the fact someone bigger and better came along and took his place.
Well done Green Day. they deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.as much as i love Lydon, hes wrong here. Exactly as "Clevelandsteamer" said- He just can't take the fact someone bigger and better came along and took his place.

Anonymous said...

Anyway... the graan day isn't real punk... the thing is, that some ppl here say that why doesn't lydon himself do anything... he doesn't want do! and if he does, he probably does it in he's living room or somewhere... the difference is, that he doesn't want fame and big concerts, but green day seems to. And look at them, they just look so fake! Really. Whatever they do, I can't take them seriously.
They're just... dunno... such pussies...

simon h b said...

Anonymous... the one just above this...

he [Lydon] doesn't want fame and big concerts

Would this be the same John Lydon who went on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here? Or the one who did the Sex Pistols "reunion" tours?

Anonymous said...

I was a hardcore punk in the 70s, and 30 years later it's basically what I listen to. Back then I was constantly pissed off that "new wave" and punk were used interchangeably by ignorant people. "You're a punk. So do you like the Cars, Blondie, Knack, yadda, yadda..." It was disgusting. I'm not embarrassed by Green Day because at least today so many people know what punk really is, and it sure as hell isn't Green Day. They're a pop band with hair gell and makeup. It's laughable, truly ridiculous that anyone can consider them punk. Go download "Jenny Greene" or "Open that Beer" from The Bloody Stinking Bastards website. Now that's contemporary punk.

Anonymous said...

This is a bias story, it pissed me off how you ATTACKED john! green day isnt punk there the soundtrack in hell.

Anonymous said...

mustv'e hurt billy, hes a huge pistol fan. leave off john lydon by the way.
Also the buzzcocks said the same thing as john

Anonymous said...

johny lydon is right they arent really a punk badn and i see how he is pissed becuase they say that but punk has become different, like people think fall out boy is punk wtf no but there considered it so all it is is that punk isnt real punk anymore so u can call green day punk cause it has a differtn defansition then jonny thinks now witch is gay but thats how it is now

sven945 said...

There's something there about homosexual sorceresses, but that's abiyt all I can understand.

Anonymous said...

Guys...everyone leaving comments here, don't you get it? This is EXACTLY the kind of talk Lydon was after!

Is/isn't Green Day really punk? What is Punk anyway? You guys are talking about it and thinking about it.

In an apathetic, passive world, anyone who can get people up and talking can't be all bad.

And Respect Lydon. Agree or disagree with him, the man has tons of courage and really believes in what he's doing. McDoufus may have introduced him to the band, but it was Lydon himself who threw everything he had into his new role of frontman. He got the job because of a certain look he had, but no one was expecting him to be any good at it. He decided to show them all.

simon h b said...

@anonymous [most recent]
Harold Shipman and Norman Tebbit got people talking - it doesn't automatically follow that the things they did to inspire conversation were either worthwhile or admirable.

Lydon brave? Well, I guess a never-ending round of teatime chat show sofas and soft interviews for the tabloids must require a certain degree of bravery. Of sorts.

Lydon wasn't hoping to inspire debate about what is or isn't punk - he was hoping to inspire discussion about Lydon.

Given his increasing penchant for dismissing black music and gay pride, it might be better if he didn't believe quite so passionately in what he's doing.

And he himself has admitted the Sex Pistols are around so many years after their force was spent is to earn money, not because they believe in their 'art'.

Know-It-All Bird said...

I know what he means, but it does kind seems like Lydon is saying you can only really be considered a proper Punk Rock band if you are controversial to the point that the police and the government are getting involved. The Pistols were controversial, but not THAT controversial (with the exception of that boat incident). The Clash were never controversial and neither were The Buzzcocks or The Damned and those bands (at some points in their careers) were as punk as you can get!

That said Green Day aren't a punk band. I'm a fan of them but they just seem to be an Alternative rock band playing with the energy of Punk Rock. They always get acclaim for apparantly sounding like The Clash, The Buzzcocks, The Ramones, The Jam and The Sex Pistols when really they don't AT ALL.

Anonymous said...

"The Pistols were controversial, but not THAT controversial..."

Do some reading. In 1970s Britain they were as controversial as it was possible to be. They went off like a bomb.

The Pistols were banned, hounded, beaten up by thugs on the streets, hounded some more, they had fine upstanding 'leaders of the community' (puke) deciding what the people of Britain could or couldn't listen to and saying that the best thing that could happen to them would be to be hung at traitor's gate, the press villified and dehumanised them, the police acted like true fascists with them... it became so unsafe they had to leave the country.

Not THAT controversial? Please. They were so controversial they made it safe for everyone else to be so.

simon h b said...

@anonymous
Know-It-All-Bird is right: they were controversial, but not that controversial. Pantomime villains. If you're looking from a historical perspective, you need to put them into context of a time when there were only three channels on TV and local councils would often block films from being shown locally.

The Pistols were nothing compared to the then still-recent Oz and Chatterley trials; McLaren was a businessman, and wanted to get publicity, not to be put out of business.

You're confusing, I think, notoriety and controversy. Pete Doherty is also notorious; he's not controversial.

Anonymous said...

he´s wrong, green day worked hard to get where they are now.

simon h b said...

Well, they certainly didn't get there on talent.

Anonymous said...

Green day are marketing rubbish, pure and simple, and having a musical on Broadway just enforces that. There's no point in comparing the Pistols to Green Day, any more than you can compare the Beatles to Oasis.
Green Day = marketing tool of big record industry. Being anti-Bush just sold more records to pimply antisocial youth in the heartland of America.
Give me Dead Kennedy's any day for real punk/anti-establishment. Pitting Jello Biafra and that Green Day guy would be like pitting Andre the Giant with Pee Wee Herman!

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