Sunday, August 03, 2008

John Lydon burns the last of his bridges, fills river with petrol, sets it aflame

There are many who find it hard to believe that John Lydon could have been involved in a racist scuffle the other week, and who will be looking to their hero to prove that he's not the sort of tiresome old twit who attempts to defend unpleasant reactionary attitudes by pretending he's just so refreshingly anti-PC.

He's had his chance, in an interview with the Daily Record.

He starts off having a go at Pete Doherty for being a "coward":

"Doherty's got trapped in a publicity campaign that has run out of order.

"Another fool who is given a golden opportunity to do something wonderful in his life and he'd rather be selfish and cowardly. Drugs are the modus operandi of the coward.

"Pete is a fine lad that needs to sort himself out. This is Mister Rotten telling you I waltz on stage sober because no drug in the world is as good as being absolutely 100 percent honest with your audience. Nothing compares to that emotion. People like him and Amy Winehouse are getting it wrong as usual."

Given that the Sex Pistols' fame is built, to a large degree, on Sid Vicious and his heroin habit, while Lydon might have a point, you could perhaps fill a couple of sides of an ethics class exam asking if it's more cowardly to be addicted to drugs, or to allow your band to carry on exploiting someone addicted to drugs until they die.

Still, a bit of low-grade hypocrisy is only to be expected. Lydon seems to blame Sid's death all on the record company and the stress they put the band through - although didn't Johnny brag to the Star the other week about how he'd never danced to a record label's promotional schedule? - and says that he still misses Sid, so that's alright then.

However, having had his thoughts turn to Winehouse, he decides he's got more to say:
"Poor old Amy. Aimless Winehouse would be a better term."

Aimless Winehouse! Oh, how amusing.
"I love all kinds of music but the one thing I have never done is imitate black music in her idiotic way."

Excuse me?
"I don't like pale imitations and shades of things and I am always wary when people go jazzy because jazz is the best cover up for a lack of talent the world has ever known. It don't wash real with me.

"And the cover up for her which is probably the guilt trip is that she requires vast amounts of drugs to hide the fact that she is fake."

There's just so many reasons why he's wrong, but let's just take the implicit suggestion that white people shouldn't play jazz, and the explicit statement that jazz (which Lydon identifies as a solely black form of music) is "a cover for a lack of talent." Ghettoising and damning an entire genre just to stack up a weak pun based on Amy Winehouse's name.

As if there was any point, he then goes to have a pop at gays as well:
I felt the same way playing at the Isle Of Wight. It is orchestrated deck chair seating and gay rainbow flag waving. It's very, very absurd.

Lydon doesn't explain - and the Record doesn't seem bothered to ask - why waving a gay flag is in some way absurd, or, indeed, if the freedom to wave a flag that reflects your sexuality wasn't meant to be one of things that punk was supposed to have been about in the first place. Lydon doesn't explain if he's uncomfortable with having gays in his audience (although we bet he'd respond that he's got several good-ish gay friends), or merely he thinks that gay pride in itself is absurd. To be honest, I don't much care. I can't wait until the US economy stabilises and he can go back to selling flats to the retirement market or whatever his day job is meant to be.


Anonymous said...

Mr Lydon sounds like he'd be right at home amongst middle England. Time to come home John?

Anonymous said...

aside form the fact that winehouse isnt exactly doing that bad-a job at imitating "black" music (love her or hate her, but when shes on form shes got a fine, fine voice), surely lydon cant say that...oooh, jah wobbles basslines, or any of those early pil albums werent taking his dr alimantado and tappa zukie obsession just a bit too far?!

someone should remind him that most people who were 18 in 1976 probably idolise chewbacca more than him or his band

Anonymous said...

someone should remind him that most people who were 18 in 1976 probably idolise chewbacca more than him or his band

It's an interesting point that doesn't get made enough in these Lydon pushing articles and interviews. Certain parts of the media (namely Q/contemporary NME style mags and "aimless" articles canonising old men) are so wrapped up in the myth of the Sex Pistols that they have created an entire revision of history - one that forgets disco and Star Wars and anything else from the late '70s that doesn't quite fit the romantic image they're looking for. If anything is detrimental to music, it's not cribbing from other people's, it's deluding yourself into believing utterly in the self-importance of your "scene".

I suppose this is what we've come to expect from the racist homophobe that is Lydon.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you guys but he's got a point about Winehouse being ersatz. She's like a good impressionist - impressive but not at all the same as the real thing.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say that about Star Wars and disco. One of the main aims of punk was to drive out the ghastly US cultural imperialism which had the likes of the hairy cornflake in silk tour jackets polluting the airwaves. Star Wars and disco were the highlights we remember but you had to be there to experience the full horror of irrelevant mediocre Americana that wallpapered UK media.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the horrid of British *imitations* of American AOR/MOR that Bates, Burnett et al gave vast amounts of airtime to (Smokie, Leo Sayer, Frankie Miller etc).

While I would obviously defend it if it was criticised by an extreme racist, and I'm wary of the statement by a former inkie writer that liking Joss Stone is "worse than voting for the BNP" (and I fucking hate Joss Stone), I am mostly aesthetically suspicious of the white heritage-soul boom instigated by Winehouse, just as the ex-Monitor clique at Melody Maker were wary of 80s white soul - but that's because it ignores *current* black pop, indeed deliberately and wilfully dismisses it, prefers a commodified, *established* idea of "blackness". I am also, I must admit, wary of the more extreme form of PC because I see it as anti-Europeanism by other means (think of how the supposedly right-on music press most of us grew up on happily used words like "Kraut").

Not, of course, that that is any kind of defence for the played-out, overrated, irrelevant, distractionary, owes-his-life-to-the-Daily-Mail-of-30-fucking-years-ago, worthless cartoon that is John Lydon. 'Metal Box' seems even more of an aberration with every passing year.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say that about Star Wars and disco. One of the main aims of punk was to drive out the ghastly US cultural imperialism which had the likes of the hairy cornflake in silk tour jackets polluting the airwaves. Star Wars and disco were the highlights we remember but you had to be there to experience the full horror of irrelevant mediocre Americana that wallpapered UK media

True enough and that's what made good punk good but the point is that if you become so wrapped up in your own misplaced sense of significance how are you any different than those kids who think the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever are everything. Don't forget that the kids consuming "irrelevant mediocre Americana", etc. truly believe that they are listening to the important music. These articles about Lydon are so intent on propagating the "punk began in '76" myth that they don't seem to realise that they're glorifying a movement which within a few years was so had imploded in on its own repetition and hype. People like Lydon are so convinced of their own importance that they haven't moved anywhere in the 30 years and falsely believe that music ended with them, there, at that point. Unfortunately the credulous follow him. I always like to remind people that "punk" as it is described now was "new wave" to many of the critics of the day and by '76 Iggy Pop was already recording The Idiot. Lydon probably thinks that punk's as fresh today as it was then because he still doesn't realise that was as old then as it is today.

(Oh and I should add here, for the sake of clarity, that I actually love punk and think that Never Mind The Bollocks is one of the best pop records of all time.)

Mark said...

Watch "The Filth and The Fury" and eat those words. Sid Vicious was exploited to hell and back by that talentless muppet McLaren. It's fairly obvious that people tried to wean Sid off drugs, but you can't help a junkie unless they want it themselves. When Spungeon died Vicious wanted to join her, and it was only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should say that about Star Wars and disco. One of the main aims of punk was to drive out the ghastly US cultural imperialism which had the likes of the hairy cornflake in silk tour jackets polluting the airwaves.

i'm gonna get a kicking for saying this, but when the libertines came along (with lyrics like the 'few more depressing sights than an englishman in a baseball cap' one), i was about 16 and totally felt like it summed up my thoughts about this huge sense of americanisation that seemed, to me, to have been shadowing over my entire life...

it's not too dissimilar to what you were saying about punk up there. i suppose what im trying to say is that i can emphasise with that a little

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

@planet me
And Lydon said "look, Malcolm, we shouldn't be playing gigs while Sid's ill, it's going to kill him", did he?

As he says in his Record interview, he just figured that Sid would be able to sort himself out.

Anonymous said...

John Lydon has for a long time been a hero, of sorts, of mine, and I am a Star wars fan!

And most of you should be ashamed of snidely critiquing Mr Lydon, while probably falling over yourselves to appropriate the brilliant musical and stylistic elements which he, and many of his collaborators, channelled forward.

Public Image LTD did not imitate anything, it was INSPIRED by very good black and white music, with a healthy dose of the members own talents, ideas, creativity and idiosyncracies as well.

The vulgar misappropriation of the rainbow, on the 'flag' of those so conceited, removed, trendy, callous, arrogant and vain as to get into being "homosexual" or "lesbian" is actually far worse than's downright appalling, completely offensive!


Simon Hayes Budgen said...


Leaving aside that your hero is currently mugging like a pantomime chorus line through an advert for butter, I'm just bemused by your entire final paragraph - "getting into being gay or lesbian"? It's not a hobby, it's a sexuality, and it's one where visibility is bloody important. Even more so now that there's an attempt to chisel away gay people's rights.

Still, I've never come across someone getting upset at the misappropriation of rainbows before - presumably you're an outraged prism?

Anonymous said...

NO-ONE "is" "gay" !
And it is not "a sexuality", it is a sexual and social perversion.
NO-ONE "is" "gay"...this behaviour is NOT an inherent identity.

In spite of the vulgar behaviour and offensive attitudes being very visibly indulged in...there are no actual "gay people".

Having perverse 'sex' with your own gender is NOT a "right".

NO-ONE has the "right" to be "gay"!

And all this stuff is MORE than bloody visible now!

Once again though, a "liberal" edits something that is said to try and paint someone incorrectly...did I not say that John Lydon is hero of mine, of sorsts ?

Nevertheless, he's achieved more when it counted than the lot of you dim witted, too late for the party, but you're damen well gonna show off, types ever have, or are likely ever to.

The rainbow is a beautiful, and meaningful, creation of God Almighty...and to see it tainted by association with such an arrogant, perverse, elitist, sinful 'choice of lifestyle' truly heartbreaking.

It is tainted, though not ruined though.

Yes, I know that John Lydon has gone onto some silly avenues recently...but I don't believe he said he was perfect.
None of that can undermine the credibility of his former art and work.

And, in regards people being "gay" or "lesbian"...have they become so consumed with their phoney, fabricated "rights"...and forgotten their RESPONSIBILITY ??!!

And the perversity of "homosexuality" and "lesbianism" is chiselling away at everything good, proper, decent, healthy, creative and positive.

And it's got to stop.


Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Wow, Skot. I had wondered what sort of people still idolised (or sort-of-idolised) Lydon, and I think you've just answered that question.

I'm not quite sure where you've come up with the idea that the choices made between consenting adults should be run past you for some sort of approval, but I'd suggest you might try listening to some actual punk music to clear your head a little.

Anonymous said...

I don't idolise, or 'sort-of idolise' John Lydon, or any other human being.
God forbid !
There is a difference with finding someone, to some degree, a hero.
Heroes are human beings.
And what do you mean by "what kind of people"?
Yes, you have been given the, sensitive, soulful people.

And how does people, 'adults', "consenting" to indulge in bad behaviour seem to 'excuse' it ??
No amount of "consent", whether mutual or otherwise, ever makes wrong into right!

What people do DOES have to run past other people for approval...if and when that behaviour, even if it be "consentual", is immoral, anti-social and sinful.
And when other people's judgement and conscience is more adequate than those so selfish to 'consent' to sinning.

What do you mean by Punk music?

I don't have to sit around listening to a lot of shitty "punk music" to remind me that I'm "punk".
Perhaps you should take a break from 'listening' to so much cliched "punk rock", because your head sounds like it's been more than well cleared out...but nothing much has taken the vacancy.

I'm a Punk, I'm a Funky Punk, I'm a real Punk...I listen to a lot of music as a Punk, that is totally Punk...though much of it doesn't 'sound' "punk" at all, and that makes it all so much more Punk!


Anonymous said...

It is intersting (but barely) to read hwat u great unwashed average peasants have to say/isn't Johnny gay? (there, that rhymes).

What I love the MOST IS JOHNNY CHANGED NOTHING!!!! YOUR 'MOVEMENT' WAS AND IS LAUGHABLE AND would have been laughed off in America 1970's. Do you housing councils still exist? YES. Do people still hate and criticize the poor? YES! I made music to change things, as well, have u changed anything? NO. Awareness has been going on since before CHARLES DICKENS day.. read the books from 1839, long before there was a Lydon or A wendy W. Long after we are gone, there MIGHT be change. AWARNESS does not mean real change.

His being against homosexuality would therefore be absurd. NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE REAL IMPT THINGS OF THE WORLD.. WOW , THERE IS A WORLD OUTSIDE OF CLOWNS? YES! i AM GLAD U ALL GET SO MUCH JOY OUT OF WATCHING OUR EVERY MOVE AS PERFORMERS, SPEND AS MUCH TIGME VOLUNTERRING OR BEING A MISSIONARY. for the idiot #3 that complained about 1970's 'americana', your jealusy is see-through. Stop hating. Your country is the size of a pea, but don't blame that on we. (another lyric of mine)

Anonymous said...

Simon h h: Get off that old 'consenting adults' crap. It doesn't wash, and it never will, never did.
Wrong is wrong. Heterosexual 'sex' can also be done wrongly. Anyone can CONSENT to steal something, too, THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.
WHEN SOMETHING CAUSES CHAOS, AND UNHAPPINESS AND SUFFERING, it is wrong. Pretty simple? You can be agnostic and see this.

And we aren't the ones that said it.. so this 'run it by you' is also irrelevant. We didn't write the 'rules'.. the creator did. Consult your creator. Where did we all come from, ha! the big explosion in space, right? Puh-lease.

Anonymous said...

I heard this "america is suffocating the world with it's culture" crap while living in America, and I've wondered if many people actually believed this. Now, that I've worked a year in Korea and a year in France, I got my answer. People really will watch 90% american shows, listen to 90% american music, miss work to go worship Paris Hilton as she's passing through town and then complain that america is colonizing them. Don't they know that their networks buy those programs because they all choose to watch ? Don't they know that thier stores stock what they buy? Then I'd ask both Korean and French teenaged boys what's their favorite music. The most common responses by far were Jay Z, Jonas Brothers and Britney Spears!!! They do have internet. They could find other stuff. They could even buy the stuff that is staying untouched in their shops. Kinda scary...

Then I often wondered if those crazy homophobes on the internet were just trolls, or maybe some random medicated unfortunates. Then, the election came and I got my answer. Freaking California (California!!!!) voted against gay rights. Arkansas voted against child rights tearing kids out of good adoptive homes (often from their aunt's or uncle's) to make triple sure that those icky gays didn't get a kid. The scary thing is that SKOT is normal. If your creator does exist, why not let him deal with us sinners when we die? (I am not a lesbian, but I do participate in the ultra gay/wrong anal sex, on occasion, so I know I'm as good as double grilled, as far as Jesus/Allah is concerned).

So in conclusion:
1. Take responsibility for the culture you consume. You are the ones who choose to buy into THE WORST of what America has to offer. In other words: Quit watching Hannah Montana! You're 14 year old males, for goodness sake! I mean, even Linkin Park would be understandable for a young suburban fellow. This shit isn't thrust upon you. You are the ones who tivoed that Jonas Brothers concert and then discussed it with your football teammates. I heard you all.

2. Let other people accept their own responsibility for their sins. If gays will fry in the next life, then good for you, you'll dance and sing "I told you so". Why spread the hatred now? Didn't your creator tell you he has the exclusive judging rights, as well as the exclusive extramarital virgin sex rights? You know, in class, the teachers get really pissed off when some know-it-all, goody-two-shoes kid keeps loudly telling other students to sit straight, quit talking, behave well and listen. It's annoying as hell, I tell ya. I bet you make god want to spend some alone time with his internet and a bloody mary waaaaay more than the supposed bad kids. Next time god has a headache it's your fault! I mean the kid who copies off of someone else or plays his nintendo in the back can be dealt with, but you... you just never shut up. Quit tattling! Here is a good rule to live by: Unless the other kid is actually bothering you, god does not want to hear from you about it. God can take note and deal with it as god sees fit without your help. God needs you to shut it so the class can move on.

Anonymous said...

Lydon earnt his stripes no doubt and there was a bit of a press 'thing' last year about making him bad again. Interesting that as soon as he said he would sue anyone calling him racist the press stories stopped.

He isn't racist or homophobic. He just dislikes organised, sanitised 'protest' for want of a better word.

Some people here think that Mr Lydon is so wrapped up in himself and he invented music etc - he isn't like that and he constantly says he doesn't regard much of his own material with the same seriousness as some of the fans.

He's plain speaking and we should appreciate him for that less we be condemned to more sanitation!

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