Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: What is "Punk"?

Friday, August 30, 2013

What is "Punk"?

"For me, punk is about real feelings. It's not about, 'Yeah, I am a punk and I'm angry.' That's a lot of crap. It's about loving the things that really matter: passion, heart and soul."-Joey Ramone

 The truth of the matter is, we could go blue in the face arguing the origins of punk. Some claim the Ramones started it here in the U.S.A., or it was The Sex Pistols in the UK or The Stooges in Detroit. When Iggy and The Stooges debuted and he was later asked about it, he claimed that The Stooges were "Future rock." The Stooges never claimed to be "punk" more garage rock, and they did inspire The Ramones. When I first got into The Ramones, particularly Joey Ramone, I wanted to know what bands he listened to.

 Joey's favorite bands soon became my favorites, (see: The Who, The New York Dolls and many more). All of the Ramones collectively were fans of rock and roll and the budding music scene in New York. Lots of other great bands came out of that spot and time, Blondie, Televsion, and The Talking Heads (and that's just scratching the surface!). Another big issue with arguing on what punk is: It depends on who you ask. There are many different sides to the story. I also suspect it's the kind of thing where "If you can remember it probably weren't there." 

  I have gotten tied up in this argument at least a dozen times in the past 10 years. There is no winner, and it never ends. I tend to take a lot of stock in what the musicians themselves say.
Joe Strummer himself said "If that Ramones record hadn't existed I don't know if we would have existed."

 In the Ramones' End of the Century documentary he later explains that Johnny Rotten and the other members of The Pistols were initially afraid of the Ramones, thinking they were a gang and going to beat them up. They of course did not, and became comrades in punk rock. If you ask me, the first "punk song" ever was "My Generation" by The Who. The band "Love" also had an early undeniable punk vibe in the mid to late 60's. The Ramones covered their song "7 and 7 is" on their album "Acid Eaters." That album is a great example of the kind of music that Joey Ramone loved and listened to. 

 In summary, I have met individuals who don't have mohawks or leather jackets, but they are punk as fuck. At the same time I've met punks with mohawks and leather jackets who are complete posers. The garb doesn't mean a thing if it isn't real. It's just a costume, a charade. When it's real, you wear the attitude, you only need the clothes if you want them.  "Punk" is many things. Punk is a style of dressing, a genre of music, and an attitude. You can be "punk" without listening to punk music or wearing punk clothes. To me, Punk is being yourself without apologies and expressing yourself even when someone doesn't like it. SO many people in this life are simply scared to express themselves. If you have the courage to do that, you are punk to me. 

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