Savage, Young, Ferris, Hebdige

Tricia Henry Young wrote an academic article about the Sex Pistols. There are worse ways one can spend their time than reading about the most notable punk band of the 1970s. The Sex Pistols were the “punkiest” punks and “baddest” bad boys on the scene, to the point of extreme. They represent the misfit, nonconformist rebel in all of us. One needs quite a lot of moral fiber to dare to present themselves as hedonistically as the Sex Pistols did. They succeeded in glamorizing the underprivileged. Rich, ordinary people pretended to be unemployed and poverty-stricken in order to present themselves as “true punks,” complete with punk credentials. But it is their ordinariness that makes them crave punk music. I have often said that if you look in someone’s music collection, you will see their true soul. Listeners of punk who lead ordinary lives wish to rebel in some form. Instead of living like an outlaw, they listened to rebellious music to satiate their craving. (I think it would be an interesting idea to research the psychology behind people’s music choices and see if they are subconsciously wishing for what the music holds.)

The article continues on to discuss the Sex Pistols and their anarchic, punk style and concludes with the tragic deaths of Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious. Movie recommendation: Sid and Nancy (1986) starring Gary Oldman.

Jon Savage writes about the Clash in his article about punk rock and anarchy. If there is one band that has influenced the music that I listen to, it is undoubtedly the Clash. Their low-fi sound and British themes illustrated in the lyrics of their songs was common of the bands that made up the first wave of British punk during the 1970s. The Clash has been incredibly influential – most of my favorite bands would not exist without them, including The Libertines, The Good, the Bad, and the Queen, Gorillaz, The Arctic Monkeys, and U2. Bono from U2 stated that the Clash were “the greatest rock band. They wrote the rule book for U2.” The leftist political ideology the Clash sang about would eventually inspire Rage Against the Machine, whose repertoire includes covers of songs originally from the Clash. I would not have survived until this day without them.

Dick Hebdige writes about David Bowie and glam rock and the connection to punk. David Bowie is famous for his androgynous looks and disguises which included wild makeup, platform shoes and multicolored, poufy hair. Punk is an add-on to glam rock that is supposed to disrupt glam rock’s decorative style. The new wave was directed towards reggae, which glam rock had originally excluded. It drew punks who wanted to give form to their estrangement. However, my interested is in David Bowie – his innovative glam rock music and look were one of a kind. My reaction to seeing him in full costume the first time was very similar to my reaction when I saw Michael Jackson on television for the first time – I felt like I was witnessing a completely originally display in the way the artist presented himself. There will never be anyone else who present themselves quite like that ever again in sound and visuals.

Timothy Ferris writes more about Bowie in the USA. He had a special talent and was able to command the audiences with his unique look and presence. Even though he borrowed from other artists, what he created as his on-stage persona was unique. His manager, Tony De Fries, called Bowie and his music the “product.” I know that that is exactly what David Bowie and his music is to De Fries, a product meant to be sold and make money, but I think the word “product” is rather harsh and cold. From a marketing perspective, which must be De Fries perspective, rather than the perspective of a fan, the artist and the music are indeed a product. However, to the fans, the artist is much more than a product – the artist is an inspiration and entertainer and producer of art. The word “product” just doesn’t do it justice.

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13 Responses to “Savage, Young, Ferris, Hebdige”

  1.    Amy Herzog Says:

    Great post– I’d love to see a study of the ways in which our playlists reveal our aspirational desires! No wonder the attention to image in music is so key to contemporary marketing– we need those ideals to fantasize about….

    Bowie’s relationship to marketing is really complex. On the one hand, the fantasy he created was so compelling on an emotional and musical level. On the other, he made no bones about mass marketing himself, to the point of going public and selling shares of himself!

  2.    brian morrissey Says:

    The more I read about Punk and Hip-hop the more similarities I see between them. They are both genres of music that focus and represent often times impoverished groups. Everybody needs the sense to have a voice, to have something to relate to that is beyond themselves. For a lot of youths growing up in England during the 70’s who may have felt disallusioned at times and now knowing where they stand, they find themselves gravitating toward bands like The Sex Pistols feeling the urge to rebel from normitive behavior.

    Hip-hop was marketed, and found root in similar circumstances with inner citty youths in New York City, and later other cities, who found little of what they though and how they felt within traditional rock, pop, and other music scenes. Lastly the subject of content between the two music forms is socially, not so much lyrically simliar. In both cases they’re all about going through the everyday lives of their respective audiences and often times doing what they feel is necessary to be done.

  3.    Ryan Wharton Says:

    You wrote an excellent blog on “The Sex Pistols”, I wanted to ellaborate more on what you said about when “Looking at someone’s music collection, you will see their true soul.” Which is true, but to an extent people might judge them more by the way they look as opposed to seeing their more sensitive side.I find it more interesting when people are into a wide range of music styles, it becomes alot harder to define their identity. For a person that has a wide range of music in their library,one may need to feel the need to express their emotions, by being able to identify with the various messages in the music one can listen to what suits his or her mood.

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