I wasn’t there but wish I could have been–without cowering under the table of music history. Have you seen the footage, grey and grainy, on YouTube? Iggy Pop and The Stooges at some hippie dippy festival in–was it 1969? There he is, in all his sinewy shirtless glory, with his garage band scowling at a dumbstruck audience that still clung to the wilted, post-Altamont, trampled hope of peace, flower power and all you need is love, love, love. The hippies looked scared, but above all, their doom was heralded by the unleashed whirring, raw power of the first chords in “I Wanna be Your Dog”, then sealed with the deeper, primal roar of “LOOOOOVE” that started the jittery roller coaster ride of “TV Eye”.
“Love”–that catch word that they so embraced, was brutally hurled at them as a rhetorical defiant question, or insult. A reminder of their utopian bubble being burst by the merciless new Proto-Punk sounds raging from the amps. Poor hippies were clearly under siege by this nihilistic new reality bulldozing their dream, condemning it to the realm of all short lived and unfulfilled promises that time would not allow a generation to keep. And so came the love decade to its screeching end.
Decades into this new reality, with the world in and outside of music forever changed by such moments, just a couple of weeks ago, I played my favorite version of “TV Eye” for a friend who, while having an impeccable ear for music, had never heard it. Had she not ever seen Iggy as well? Negative to either. As I turned up the volume to a 2007 live performance of a still perennially shirtless Iggy reunited with his original Stooges, the video was aptly captured by a handheld, jittery phone camera in Brazil, complete with idle nervous chatter before the powerful roar that caused the recorders and my friend to scream and laugh as if on a steep plunge of a roller coaster.
Although I abstained from punk music as it crashed and burned itself out in just a few frenzied years in the late seventies, what remained was Iggy, still standing in the ashes of what could not have been without him. And yet, he emerged much more universally raw and strangley relatable than the McLaren/Westwood manufactured punks after their demise. Didn’t Malcolm McLaren and Vivianne Westwood sort of conspire to inspire a more virulent bunch of Monkees? Didn’t McLaren take what was happening in New York–more precisely with the Ramones in the underbelly of CBGB’s–rewire it and import it back into the US as the snotty nosed Sex Pistols? None could have been without Iggy. As I was more a fan of Ziggy–and all of Bowie’s more demanding incarnations to follow, I was on board with Iggy–without giving a fig about the punks on their aggressive, snarling, whilrwind crash-tour. History proves that, arguably, I didn’t miss much, because after putting an end to the hippies and after the self mutilation of the punks, thankfully, there was and will continue to be the irreverently brilliant and timeless Iggy Pop.