5-4-3-2-1 Punk Rock!

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This weekend I finished Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, the exhaustive oral history of the New York City punk scene .  It was a fascinating and trashy read, and it had me obsessing about music even more than I usually do.

So I gave myself a 5-4-3-2-1 project, inspired by an assignment I often give my students.  I had my son help me with number 3.  Enjoy!

Five great songs that at were at the center of the punk scene and that play large roles in Please Kill Me.  

1.  “Venus in Furs” by the Velvet Underground
2.  “Gloria” by Patti Smith
3. “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement” by the Ramones
                                  4. “Looking for A Kiss” by New York Dolls
                                  5. “Sonic Reducer” by the Dead Boys

Lester Bangs

Four vital players in the book who died depressing and/or wasteful deaths.

1. Johnny Thunders: likely methadone overdose
2. Stiv Bators: injuries following being struck by a taxi cab
3. Lester Bangs: likely overdose of darvon, valium, and Nyquil
4. Sid Vicious: heroin overdose

Three illustrations that my son helped me with for this blog.  These come from the Punk Rock Run Time Activity Book by Aye Jay.  Get one for your kid today!

Two unintentionally hilarious quotes by Ray Manzarek (keyboardist for the Doors who later produced two albums by L.A. punks X.)

1. “The Stooges were dangerous, but I had lived with Mr. Danger himself–Jim Morrison” (p. 249).

2. “Jim was a shaman” (p. 31).

One ultimate punk hero whom I had never heard of.

It’s not easy to explain who Danny Fields was, but he is in practically every chapter of Please Kill Me, and the development of New York punk rock seems impossible without him.  Here’s how the book describes him:

Danny Fields and Nico.  Photo by Linda McCartney

“Former ‘company freak’ at Elektra Records.  Former executive at Atlantic Records.  Former editor of 16 magazine.  Former SoHo Weekly News columnist.  Former manager of the Stooges.  Former manager of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.  Former manager (with Linda Stein) of the Ramones and Steve Forbert.  Author of several books, including a biography of Linda McCartney.”

At the beginning of his career, Fields was on the payroll of major labels (first Elektra and then Atlantic) for going out and finding the hot new talent.  They called him the “company freak” because it was his duty to get out in the clubs and bars and fraternize with the undesirables who made the company so much money.  He didn’t just discover Iggy and the Ramones–he lent them money, helped them find places to cop, went on tour with them, and helped them when they were killing themselves with drugs.  He hung out with Andy Warhol and shared an apartment with Edie Sedgwick.  And he’s outlived them all.

Works Cited:

McNeil, Legs and Gillian McCain.  Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. New York:
      Grove Press, 2006. Print.

Morano, Aye Jay.  Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book.  Toronto: ECW Press, 2009.  Print

3 thoughts on “5-4-3-2-1 Punk Rock!

    1. Thanks for the reply! My Portuguese is a bit rusty, but I believe you're saying that a list of the five most outstanding punk songs should include two by the New York Dolls–both "Jet Boy" and "Looking for a Kiss."

      Any Brazilians want to concur?

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