Monday, October 16, 2006

Gabba Gabba Hey

One of the kids at school (J) keeps on at me about punk. He's one of those rare kids in grade 6 that just gets real music (there are probably only about 4 of them that I know of at the school). He knows who Cream and Led Zep are. He listens to ACDC and he's always surprised that I know who The Used are. Kid, I'm not dead yet. But knowing bands that just might even predate their parents is huge for an 11 year old.

I started my art teaching by playing music as a mandatory part of every lesson. It seems to me that art and music go together - since they are both essentially part of the human spirit. Also, I relished in the glory that I could play music that I liked in class without feeling like I was short changing the kids (you cannot play music during maths, for instance). The last art teacher didn't do this at all - and at first the kids were a little shell shocked by my playing music and were always on my back asking Who's this? Do you listen to this? Can we bring in CDs? etc. I tend to use pop culture references in my art teaching. I think it's important to show that art and music have strong ties. I'm doing an Andy Warhol unit at the moment. How can I do that without mentioning The Velvet Underground? I figure if the kids don't get it, hopefully one little sliver will make its way to their brain and they'll pick up on it a few years later when they're in their moronic teen angst phase. Anyway, J always had the most questions about any music I played in the AR and soon he would bail me up before and after class with CDs he'd brought in that he wanted an opinion on. I'm a big music fan - music has been a friend to me when I felt like I didn't have any friends. Music is still a friend, so from that point of view (passion) I can talk but apart from a personal and pop cult interest in it I have no real authority to speak about music. I think he needs a subscription to Q.

Anyway, J is into punk. But not so much the punk that I am into. His type of punk is the modern sort - The Used (which I would classify as Emo). My type of punk is old school - The Ramones, The Clash, Patty Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie (who I know the last two are not technically punk - new wave - according to the purists but the purists can fuck off - they come from the same cbgb seed). Punk is one of the widely contested genres of music. I guess it depends where you stand as to how you define it. Historial probably seems the best standpoint - but I know of people who insist that punk started and ended with The Sex Pistols, so I guess passion always wins out in the end when it comes to music.

There's not a lot that The Ramones and The Used have in common. Both have The in the front, so I guess that's something. But part of the reason I like The Ramones because they never seemed to take themselves so seriously, and are almost caricatures of themselves. I think Jon Savage called them cartoonish in his book England's Dreaming, and it's true. They are. I love that. The Used (I do have an album somewhere) are a bit more polished, complex - well, they're today - ya know and most of the time I want yesterday). J grabbed my lap top the other day and put some of his music on it. God love him for it, but no. Maybe I'm a bit too young to have given up on the new stuff out there, but hey I like the old shit.

I remember my very first encounter with The Ramones like it was yesterday. It was really the only way a kid under 10 is ever going to encounter The Ramones in the 80s. Yep, we're talking - Blitzkrieg Bop featured in the movie National Lampoons American Vacation. I rewound that bit in the movie with BP in it about a kazillion times just to hear that song. So much so, that bit became fuzzy and then finally that bit just became a bit of white static for 20 seconds of tape. I also taped that bit onto my tape recorder (which I held up to the TV -on full volume- and pressed "record") so phew, that little tidbit of The Ramones was able to be enjoyed by me for a while before I finally was able to get my own FULL LENGTH copy. Joy!

After that, I pretty much forgot about The Ramones until late high school when I went through my "I must learn everything about music history" phase. It was a bit sad of me - but boy did my library card get a workout. Then in uni I encountered The Rowden White Library which was basically a pop cult library and I found myself reading through all the back issues of every music magazine (categorised and bound thank you very much) I could find between classes (nerd). It was during this stage that I rediscovered The Ramones through Rock and Roll High School and became a huge fan. They're just simple guys with long hair playing punk rock - what's not to love? They're fun. They're cool. They wear leathers and are nice guys. I cannot listen to The Ramones without feeling just a little bit happy.

I haven't played any Ramones the art room yet. I'm going to go make a mixed CD of various tracks. Good to know I'm still a total nerd.

Judy is a Punk - The Ramones

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