Thursday, July 19, 2012

Punk Rock Days

July, 1977.  I was in London visiting relatives, and I was seventeen. My sister and I were following a crowd of friends as they negotiated the Tube, when I spotted a crew of - I didn't know what they were. The boys sported huge mohawks , and the girls! They were exotic, with bright blue and red hair, see-through plastic jeans, and safety pins through their earlobes.

"It's a group of punks," one of our English friends hissed. "They hang out on Kings' Road all the time." We were hurried away. Still, the image had burned itself into my mind - the bright colors and dark stares of that group.

Fast forward to September. Back at school. Another friend, this one from my hometown, introduced me to the music of Iggy Pop. It was fast and furious, with a killer drumbeat that wouldn't let go. "We could go to see him, you know," she said. "He's playing The Tower."

I had  never been to a concert before. I had no idea what clothes to wear, nor any money to go shopping. I made a star out of tin foil and glued it to my face. I put on old jeans and older  boots.

Every seat in The Tower  was a great seat. We were so close to the stage that we could see every face of the guys in the opening band, a new group called The Ramones. Joey stood in his classic  stance, one foot forward, one back, and sang about little Ramona and Gabba Gabba Hey and the Blitzkrieg Bop.

My friend and I jumped around and screamed and sang. It was awesome.

Iggy Pop was carried onto the stage in a trashcan. He had a smile that completely changed his face and made his eyes sparkle and crackle in the dark. My heart flipped over.

He sang Lust for Life, Tonight, and The Passenger. We screamed and jumped and danced some more.

Out in the cool autumn night, I realized my star was gone. Our ears rang in the sudden silence. We climbed into my friend's tiny VW and put-putted home.

I am a passenger
And I ride and I ride
I ride through the city's backside
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, they're bright in a hollow sky

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