Rollins interview snippet (1 Viewer)

Not sure how many care about Henry Rollins but here is a piece from a mother Jones interview about th eus of ppunk music on commercials


HR: [Punk] gave music back to people. For a long time, when I was very young, I went to go see arena rock bands. I was 16 and it was all I could get in to see, legally. And I saw Led Zeppelin and Ted Nugent and Van Halen and all that. Me and [Minor Threat and Fugazi vocalist] Ian MacKaye would go to these concerts, and it was fun. You know, seeing Led Zeppelin did not suck, in the least. And then punk rock came along and all of a sudden you are standing five feet away from Dee Dee Ramone or the Bad Brains, or you're carrying in the gear with the band, or now you're in the band, and so music became this very immediate thing to me, where I could experience it from a very close-up vantage point instead of bringing binoculars, which I literally did to see Led Zeppelin. So I think it actualized music for a lot of young people. If you wrote the band, they would write back. You could meet the band. It became this thing that was a part of your life, not this thing that you paid a ticket for and through peanuts at. And that to me was huge. I think a lot of people became very inspired by that ethic of, you know, I'm gonna confront authority and really see what that's all about, and question authority, read between the lines, and be suspicious. And I never heard that in a Ted Nugent record.

Where did it fail? I don't know that it failed, I think it kind of just got absorbed into popular mainstream. When you hear a Stooges track or a Buzzcocks track or a Ramones track or a track by the Fall, or what have you, in a car ad, some people, whenever that happens, I get a letter saying "What a sellout." And I say "no man, we've arrived." The person making that ad grew up on that music. You're no longer confined to interstitial, instrumental music, you're gonna get Iggy Pop and the Teddy Bears singing I'm a punk rocker to sell a car. What would you rather hear? Some wanky keyboard or Iggy and the Teddy Bears? I know which one I'd rather hear, and I just hope they get paid quickly and double scale, because it's about time. I don't so much see the failure in as much as that anything that has been around for 30 years or more.

Interesting perspective-one could imply that Buk, like punk, broke down assumed barriers by making the word and the artist accessible in a way not imagined before and if we streeetch it a bit Buk, like Iggy on the car ad, has "arrived".
 
Punk was a movement, in the same way the 'beats' were a movement. You had the core and then you had the outsiders. I think the spirit of 'the beats' and 'punk' can be compared, but Bukowski was an individual. Like Iggy Pop he lived the deviant life however like Iggy Pop he was simply imitating his idols, Pop idolized Jim Morrison in the same way Buk idolized Celine or Fante. I guess there are a lot of parallels between the two, both climbed out of the gutter and ended up with the stars.

I'm not sure what i'm saying but I don't really think Buk made things accessible in the same way Punk presented the DIY option to disillusioned youths but Buk became easy to imitate just how Iggy Pop imitated the showmanship of Jim Morrison
 

mjp

Founding member
Rollins is a dick, but he can spit out the words, and those words right there are dead on.

I'm a year older than he is, but I also went to the Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent and Van Halen concerts (along with 500 other 70's bands), and a couple of years later I carried equipment for Bad Brains and saw the Ramones from three feet away, and he's right, that was the shift, that was it exactly. And it was a radical shift. Even when the Clash were playing arenas, you could hang around after the show, walk backstage and talk to them. Zeppelin and Nugent sure as hell didn't want to talk to you. And if you did seek them out to talk to them, you found that they were dull and dismissive.

The Stooges are a different animal. They were punk rock, unquestionably, but their first record came out in 1969, so they were of a different era, and aspired to the arena model because that's all there was. Later, after punk came along and Iggy became it's godfather, he did do club tours, lots of them, so you could stand a few feet away from him. And even when the Stooges played bigger venues and you couldn't stand a few feet away from him, he came to you - he was the first "rock star" to fling himself out into the audience and sing in your face or lick your feet or smear your peanut butter on himself.

A lot of the time he was doing what you could call a Morrison imitation, but like the Ramones, (who were trying to play pop music they heard on the radio, but just didn't have the musical skill to do it), it was filtered through his lens, so it came out as something unique and fucked up.

But the comparison of Bukowski imitators to Iggy imitating Morrison is off the mark. A better analogy would be someone who was influenced by Bukowski but ended up writing poetry just as powerful, but in their own voice. And those are few and far between. Just like the thousand guys who though Morrison was great and tried to go out and do what he did and failed, because they did not bring their own voice to it. Iggy certainly did. He was Morrison put through a blender and baked in a nuclear oven.

But my hat's off to Rollins for that summation, because he tells the whole tale in those two paragraphs.
 

ROC

It is what it is
Again, Rollins is not even talking about music. He's talking sociology.

The history of music is measured in hundreds of years. By the time my boy is old enough to have kids of his own, punk rock will not be differentiated from any of the other so-called "styles' of rock that have tried to squeeze themselves out of that particular stricture. And with good reason.
Sociologist may discuss the motivations and consequences. Those concerned with music will have nothing to even consider.
Punk rock railed and pissed and whined but presented no viable alternative - perfect for teenagers who don't want to think too much.

So when your teenage angst, protest song ends up on a TV add, you've "arrived"?

Perfect.

And...

"Interesting perspective-one could imply that Buk, like punk, broke down assumed barriers by making the word and the artist accessible in a way not imagined before and if we streeetch it a bit Buk, like Iggy on the car ad, has "arrived"."

I agree with this. It's not such a stretch. Poetry has been apart from people for...well almost forever! Certainly in the 20th century.
It's now not totally ridiculous to site or quote a poem - as John Cusack did recently.
That is largely thanks to Bukowski.

(But I think you may mean infer, rather than imply?)
 
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Yes infer is more more appropriate.

when I read the Rollins interview I thought wow Buk broke down the perceived and actual barriers in his way too-but then something happened a thought I hadn't considered hit me,.
I looked at it this way. How many men dominated forums discuss poetry?
Before Buk (and I'm gereralising) most guys had a few poetry books on the shelf in case some sensitive girl dropped by and the etchings were in the other room.
Now we call our friends, brag on the net, Hey I just got a book of poetry (Bukowski usually)

We have made the shift so completely that it goes unnoticed. It's remarkable really.
 
I don't really think they're that connected but to me Buk, Kerouac, the Ramones, the Stooges all have an honesty in there expression that if is not totally different from other artists is at least totally different than the world around them.
 

mjp

Founding member
They are connected in that each did something that (at the time they first did it) most people looked at and said, "What the fuck is that?! It sucks. I don't like it."

And frankly, most people still think the same thing about all of them. Ha.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
"Interesting perspective-one could imply that Buk, like punk, broke down assumed barriers by making the word and the artist accessible in a way not imagined before and if we streeetch it a bit Buk, like Iggy on the car ad, has "arrived"."

I agree with this. It's not such a stretch. Poetry has been apart from people for...well almost forever! Certainly in the 20th century.

When you say "Poetry has been apart" you're forgetting tht many good song lyrics can be considered as poetry in their own right. In this sense poetry has NEVER been apart from ppl. Its always been part of the folk culture. Take Woody Guthrie's best lyrics f.ex., or the nursery rhymes you grew up with.
Poetry & music used to be closely linked. So the Poetry you're talking about is the modern, silent, book-poetry that evolved with the growth of the printing press. Somewhere along the way the high brows annexed the word poetry to their own use. Thats ok, but let's not forget that their kind of poetry is not the only kind.
Thats what Buk and many song writers remind us about.
Maybe this is what so many musicians sense in Buk's line.
I think Buks poetry has a lot in common with the way popular songs have always been written.
PS: listen to this song and decide for yourself!:http://www.bukowski.net/forum/showthread.php?p=21387#post21387 ;)
 

ROC

It is what it is
Very, very few song writers, Erik.
Most (the vast, painful, overwhelming majority) of songwriters write puerile, dribbling shit.
Add to that the fact that almost every song lyric has to rhyme and you've lost me on this one.
The fact that some people consider it poetry doesn't make it so.

And nursery rhymes? Oh please. You are really reaching there. ;)

My point (and Bobbes, if I may) was that Bukowski made it 'allowable' to say "I like poetry". He helped bring poetry out of classroom, away from the dusty shelves and took it back from the so-called intellectuals.
He helped give it back to us - the common reader.



Nursery rhymes??!!
 
Yes allowed to say I like poetry but also allowed to say fuck you I like this poetry better than the other shit and this is where the punk counter culture mentality has some depth some meanng and a connection to Buk.

it's one thing to be an eccentric putting out poetry, music, visual art, purple hats whatever. Its another to have people pay for what you do and to stand beside you and say Fuck you I like this stuff too.

"Arrived" is when those that stand beside the artist do so for 30 years so when you do hear Lust for Life back beat on a commercial it's OK to cringe a little but still say-good for you Iggy and good for all of us who saw something unique special different important before the radio man played it, before a friend told you about it, or before some "Bono type" recommended it before the bandwagon sold standing room tickets.

Buk must have always been amused or even pissed off at the badwagon types.
Where were you when I was rolling newspaper so I could wipe the ass you're so willing to kiss.
 

mjp

Founding member
When you say "Poetry has been apart" you're forgetting tht many good song lyrics can be considered as poetry in their own right.
Boy, I don't know about that. I love Bob Dylan's music, for example (at least up through Infidels, and not counting the "Jesus is great!" records), and he is widely considered to be one of the great lyricists of pop music, but if you look at most of those lyrics on a page, they do not make good poetry. Try reading some yourself. I think bobdylan.com has all the lyrics.

First thing you'll notice is it's impossible to read the lyric without thinking of the song, if you know the song. Find the lyric to a song you've never heard, then you tell me if you would call that good poetry.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
I have to agree with mjp. It is poetry, but it is so closely tied into the music and the timing that does not work on the page by itself. A great song for me is "my Curse" by Afghan Whigs. I have thought about wanting to publish the lyrics as a poem, but it cannot work without the music.

Still, I think that lyrics are poetry, but then so is the Bible....

Bill
 
I think many rock lyrics can stand on their own, though sometimes it must exist within the song.

I have a book that's the complete lyrics of Lou Reed and I think they can stand on their own accord as credible poetry.
 
I was just about to mention Between Thought And Expression. I think that a lot of Lou's offerings are actually poems with sound tracks rather than songs.

Henry touched on the "bringing music back to the people" issue at the Hammer conversation thing I went to. It is interesting to see it applied to the written/spoken word, and to society in general. I can see a correlation between the punk movement, and Buk- along with other poets such as the above mentioned Lou Reed. They did, and do redeem that which can seem lofty and out of reach for the common man at times.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
Boy, I don't know about that. I love Bob Dylan's music, for example (at least up through Infidels, and not counting the "Jesus is great!" records), and he is widely considered to be one of the great lyricists of pop music, but if you look at most of those lyrics on a page, they do not make good poetry. Try reading some yourself. I think bobdylan.com has all the lyrics.
Hmmm mjp, the key phrase here is "they do not make good poetry". I'm not that much into Dylan myself (and I'm not a musician), his gaudy, surrealistic style turns me off, but you cannot hide the fact that he has written loads of fine narrative poems. If you don't want to call them poems OK, lets just call them stories in verse or stories with "uneven lines". The term poetry is unimportant.

For example:
- "Hurricane" (http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/hurrycane.html)
And he's written plenty of others that read well for me like:
- "Dignity" (http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/dignity.html)
and:
- "Everything is broken" (http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/evebrokn.html)
That last one reads a lot like a certain type of Buk-poem to me.
He's even written poems in the style of nursery rhymes (did you get that ROC?):
"Man gave names to all the animals": http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/mangave.html
And now that you've got me goin, plenty of Dylan's surreal stuff is darn good reading as well, like this one:
-"A Hard Rain's a gonna fall": (http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/hardrain.html)
(With a slight self-righteous tinge, but still.)
First thing you'll notice is it's impossible to read the lyric without thinking of the song, if you know the song. Find the lyric to a song you've never heard, then you tell me if you would call that good poetry.
There you go again: "good poetry"? "Impossible to read"? Come on! OK, the melody does sort of blend in with the text, but does that mean its not good poetry or impossible to read? I don't follow you there. Or maybe you mean Dylan's ability to "phrase" words gets lost on paper. But shouldn't that ability be considered poetry even though its something "oral" and not written? This is Dylan's strength, not his weakness! In the days of MP3-players etc. this is no longer a pblm. Maybe they don't need to be read at all? Or maybe you can read WHILE you listen!.

The thing is, poetry was ORAL to begin with. Spoken & sung. Centuries of written, printing press-literature have silenced poetry to such a degree that it has started to become unreadable. But song lyrics preserve the link to the spoken roots of the written word.
So does Buk.

Try an experiment. Dylan has made some records with traditional folksongs. These are great stories compressed into an amazing few number of lines. Like this one dating back to the 17th century (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gypsy_Laddie). I'm hoping you don't know the melody, so it doesn't get in your way :rolleyes: :

"Blackjack Davey": http://orad.dent.kyushu-u.ac.jp/dylan/blackjac.html

In this song I see the same ability to tell stories in a precise and compressed way that I see in Buk's narrative style. A good example off the top of my head is "soft and fat like summer roses": http://www.bukowski.net/forum/showthread.php?t=69.
Appreciating song lyrics helps me appreciate one of the main strengths of Buk's line as well. There is a link to oral storytelling here that much modern poetry has lost.


To sign off, here are some more very readable classic "stories in verse":
http://www.chuckberry.com/music/lyrics/school.htm
http://www.chuckberry.com/music/lyrics/browneyed.htm
http://www.chuckberry.com/music/lyrics/memphis.htm
http://www.xs4all.nl/~maroen/engels/lyrics/nebraska.htm
http://www.xs4all.nl/~maroen/engels/lyrics/highwayp.htm
http://www.xs4all.nl/~maroen/engels/lyrics/theriver.htm

Tell me: why shouldn't Chuck Berry get a Nobel Prize, huh? Oh well, he's gonna be sung for 100s of years anyway, so it doesn't matter... Nobel Prizes are for writers who need help being remembered.
To borrow Cirerita's phrase: Chuck's a master of artful artfulness.
So there. ;)
 
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mjp

Founding member
Hmm, well, I wouldn't consider any of those to be examples of "good" poetry. And of course "good" is subjective, but one of my criteria for "good" poetry is that it doesn't rhyme.

A good song has lots of rhyming and can have a lot of repetition (Dylan especially used repetition), but take away the melody and music and all you've got is a bird with no feathers.

Lyrics can feel much more powerful than normal poetry because they are paired with music, and music can be quite purposely constructed to suggest certain emotions. Different chord progressions elicit different feelings in most people.

It's much more difficult to make someone feel the same strong emotions while reading, so I think poets who can make you see and feel are miles ahead of any lyricist.

I would even be so foolish to say that I think the best of Bukowski's poetry has infinitely more rhythm than any of the song lyrics that have been brought up in this thread, when read without the music.
 
didn't Dylans poetry book bomb spectacularly, I think the same applies to Jim Morrison - a great songwriter and frontman but poet? come on....

In the UK we have Pete Doherty who has been referred to as the modern day Blake, a talented guy but also a junkie tabloid whore who is pissing it all away
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
It's much more difficult to make someone feel the same strong emotions while reading, so I think poets who can make you see and feel are miles ahead of any lyricist.
No need to set the two up against each other. Buk & lyricists both have their strengths and shortcummings. I guess what I wanted to point out is that they have some important similarities that interest me. Both are linked to sound and the spoken word, and this makes them more accessible to readers/listeners who don't normally read/listen to poetry. It also makes them good at telling stories in a short, condensed amount of time, without wasting words & paper. And yes, the use of repetition is a key element in spoken/sung language. And I'll agree with you on another thing: Buk is good on paper, while Bob is better in the air (ear?).
Although Buk is pretty damn good to listen to as well. I often read his poems aloud, especially the long narrative ones. Great flow in there, although the line-breaks aren't always that good...
Oh, and Chuck B. is very good both on paper AND in the ear, in my opinion.
027.jpg
 
Bringing the thread full circle
This is a pretty cool photo of Iggy who looks like he has arrived.

iggyarrived.jpg


If we are talking poet musicians Leonard Cohen comes to mind. I don't always like his stuff (music or poetry) but every once in a while he hits some great lines.
 
Just to throw my two cents in again. It's all words, you can call it poetry, prose, lyrics, rap. It all comes down to how it works on the written page and if it does work on the page than it should fall under "poetry." If it's a great song but the lyrics don't stand up outside the song than it's just a great song. I personally think Reed's stand up the best but Morrison and Dylan have some that stand up great away from the tune.

I've found that good writing doesn't have to be in "literature" but if it is outside of conventional literature but meets my criteria for good literature than to me they are the same. Pulp fiction is a perfect example.
 

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