Monday, August 16, 2010

Punk Rock Saved Me

One of my most memorable defining moments happened on January 26, 1980.  I had just turned 14.  I was up late, watching SNL.  In those days, everyone watched SNL.  It was the '79/'80 season, before the show went to hell and almost got canceled. Terri Garr was the host.  The B 52's were the musical guest.  The B fucking 52's!   This was so new to me.  It was my first exposure (other than my sister's insane love for David Bowie) that I had to anything remotely interesting musically.  My brothers were listening to Boston and Foreigner and other shit like that.  My friends were listening to Andy Gibb and the Bee Gee's.  But this, this was exciting and strange and good and weird and so many things.  They performed twice that night, the classic Rock Lobster and Dance This Mess Around.  I was mesmerized by them.  And in the course of that 90 minute show,  my life completely changed.

Why did my life need to change?  Oh it did.  Something had to change.  It's 1980.  I have zero relationship with my father.  I sometimes wonder if he knows of my existence.  He never speaks to me.  Never.  It had probably been years by this time since he had spoken to me.  It will be many more years until he does.  Every day he comes home from work so fucking drunk he can hardly walk.  He stinks of beer.  He falls asleep at the dinner table.  My mom screams at him until he goes to bed, and the next day we do it all over again.  There's my mom again, dealing with it so that we wouldn't be without a father, she wouldn't be alone.   I can't imagine what it was like for her then.  Worse than it was for me and my brothers and sister, no doubt.

My transformation was kind of slow, but steady.  The B 52's lead me to more new and more exciting music with each passing day.  It was soon after that I discovered more and more music... Adam and the Ants, The Go Go's, Billy Idol, more and more and more.  I wanted more, I got more and with my new love, I lost every friend I had.  They didn't like the music, they didn't like the look, they didn't like the attitude I was now sporting.  Well fuck them!  I finally found me and I liked it and I wasn't turning back into just another clone at my Catholic school.  I found new friends, friends who had similar revelations.  And we found more and more music.  By 1984 we were going to so many shows, it was almost a weekly occurrence.  We still had our beloved Adam Ant and Billy Idol, but now we had The Ramones, Dead Kennedy's, the Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Black Flag (have you ever seen Henry Rollins live in any way?  He's fucking genius).  It was intense and wonderful.  Everything was new and amazing.  Music saved my soul.  Music took me away.  Music made me happy again.  Thank you B 52's.

Link: B-52's - Rock Lobster (live on SNL 1980)

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