14 March 2010


Just Punk: The Prologue

It has been a while since I've done a musical post, aye?

Now, some of my distinguished readers may protest that The Clash didn't play music . . . in which case this post isn't going to be their thing. Punk happens to be the current soundtrack of my life.

Just ask Christine . . .

[Em]London calling [FMaj7]to the far away towns
[G]Now war is declared and battle come down

Though Fmaj7 is relatively easy to play, it was a real challenge in this song. My hand has been so used to switching from Em to C, and Fmaj7 resembles C so much that my hand kept insisting on playing C for at least the first day. It would have been easier if I had had to learn a really different chord. (There's an allegory in that somewhere, which I will go back for another day.)

[Em]The ice age is coming, [G]the sun is zooming in
[Em]Meltdown expected, [G]the wheat is growing thin

Something I like to do when I have a quiet night at home and have an excuse to turn in early . . . is turn off all the lights in my room, play the current soundtrack of my life at Top Volume, and sing and dance along like a maniac. (If anyone has a better idea of what to do during an early night . . . I really don't want to hear it.)

Joe Strummer
1952 - 2002

With a name like that,
how can a guitarist go wrong?

One of my favourite pro-80s quotes goes: "You're a child of the 80s if you were embarrassed to be part of the 70s and still don't get what the 90s were all about."

I think I will make an exception for Punk. Thank you, 1970s, for Punk.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post, which is about the relationship between the past and the present--and the way music can tie them together like nothing else.

Pentimento, who probably has much better taste when it comes to these things, has been writing about her personal history for some time now, and inadvertently moving me to do a little of the same.

It's perhaps the hardest writing project I've ever committed myself to. Writing one's history involves more than sequentially recording the events of one's life. That, to use a musical metaphor, is simply the playing of scales up and down a keyboard--a linear exercise that reflects the inexorable progress of past into present but not the mystery that the present is more than the sum of everything past. The writing I want to do now goes neither backwards nor forwards in straight lines. It is more like a kind of tesseract . . . the singing of the old songs in a new way.

And it must be said that where I am concerned, the old songs are going to be . . . Well . . . Oh, let me put it this way: Have you ever clicked on the "Music" tab under some of my posts?

So though I'm tempted to say, in lights-out, locked-door fashion, that the next post I write in this vein might be something you don't really want to read . . . I have to admit that what it truly is, is something I don't really want to publish. I've discussed the intensely personal nature of these posts with someone else, and she said that it helps her to forget, when she is writing, that anybody is reading. I think that is excellent advice, which is why I've turned off comments for all posts in this series.

[Em]Engines stop running, [G]but I have no fear
[Em]Cause London is drowning, and I--I [D]live by the river [Em]

Image Source: Joe Strummer