inessential by Brent Simmons


The other day I was explaining to Dave how punk rock and the Two-Way-Web have elements in common. This is from an email I sent:

The central tenets of the punk movement:

1. Amateurs -- people who make music because they love it -- rock.

2. Do-it-yourself! (Abbreviated as DiY).

3. Everybody who wants to be heard (be in a band), should be able to.

4. There should be no barriers, and no difference, between a band and its fans. The two-way music scene. Fans are in bands too, and people in bands are fans of other bands.

To say that I'm a punker may be a bit of a stretch -- I'm a married homeowner, middle-class, with a 401K plan -- but still, the punk ethic was the philosophy I was raised with. That's true for lots of people in my age group.

Remember the music scene in the '70s. You had bands like Pink Floyd and various "progressive" rock bands using orchestras and synthesizers and really expensive weird studio junk. The average kid who wanted to form a band had no hope of being able to do anything like that.

Rock was the people's music in one sense only -- people listened to it. But they couldn't create it anymore.

Then along comes Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Lou Reed -- and a new ethos.

We're back to three or four instruments. Drums, bass, guitar, a singer.

You didn't even really have to play your instrument very well, as the Sex Pistols proved -- what counted was spirit and expressiveness.

That punk may have seemed threatening to baby boomers isn't surprising. It was an attempt at a cultural revolution, an attempt at overthrowing corporate rock and all the over-blown Pink Floyd stuff that baby boomers liked. It was an attempt to kill the culture of rock stars.

It was a fiercely democratic movement.

For an excellent introduction to punk rock, get the Clash's album London Calling. You'll find that it's surprisingly accessible -- with catchy melodies, even. Good, straightforward rock-and-roll. And as powerful now as the day it was released.

PS I wrote about the similarities between punk and the Two-Way-Web once before.