WNnG – Musings from the desk of chaz.

Harsh Days.
February 5, 2009, 1:19 pm
Filed under: Ramble

The year itself is off to a great start; however, within the world of rock’n’roll there are some unfortunate stirrings.

A couple days ago marked the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper – the tagged “Day the Music Died.” Granted, most of us have gotten over this by now (the majority of us reading this weren’t even born yet), but it’s still something we can feel the ripples from and we are very aware of its importance and ultimate tragedy. Personally, I think this day should be turned into one of those party days that have been sneakily turned into “holidays” and excuses to either take off work or get nothing done and have a party instead. I won’t name any of these “holidays” but I’m pretty sure you all know what I’m talking about. They might not fall on the same days as each other, but we all have ’em…and we all use them to their fullest extent. So, this will be my new “holiday,” care to join me? February 3rd. See ya next year.

February 4th, 2009, just a couple days ago, we lost a monumental figure in the shaping of punk rock and the American underground music movement. Lux Interior of the Cramps (that’s a video from their infamous set at Napa State Mental Hospital) passed away in a hospital from heart failure. Not only did he bring traditional music and blues/rockabilly into the underground scene, gaining a new found respect for it, but he helped forge a new hybrid of popular music. He smashed horror/sci-fi movie lyrics and mumblings into a sexually charged, tangled, fuzzy mess of blues and rock’n’roll. The Cramps have been cited as paving a pulsing path to both the psychobilly and horrorpunk genres. For that, we owe them heaving amounts of respect and gratitude. Afterall, it was partly the Cramps responsibility for spawning the DC hardcore scene after Ian MacKaye and crew saw them live on tour and there’s no doubt in my mind that it was the Cramps who planted the seed in Glenn Danzig’s head leading him to create the Misfits. That’s something of which to be extremely proud. Lux Interior helped to put the danger back into rock’n’roll, he made it something to be scared and in awe of all over again. The 70s had caused rock to go soft and like the Stooges before him, he was there to rattle things up all over again. Which leads us to the next bit of sad news.

As I posted earlier, in the beginning of January, Ron Asheton, co-founder of the Stooges was found dead in his home. Ron Asheton created the dark, dirgy guitar riffs that made the Stooges who they were. Leaving behind boring chord structures, he played simple, blues-inspired lines with a seething, bottom-heavy distortion. With Dave Alexander on bass and Ron’s brother, Scott on drums, laying down a mesmerizing, rhythmic backdrop, Ron cut and sliced his way in a gnarly, muscly fashion disrupting the relaxed environment the two were creating and locking down. Whatever dark, meditational tones the rhythm section plugged away at, he was there to slaughter it and create an inner-song build and tension. He created the anxious playground over which Iggy Pop was allowed to dance, croon and howl. Not too many guitarist are credited with inspiring literal decades of musicians. Look up the Stooges on Youtube and you’ll experience the full on power of the band.

I’ll wrap it up there since I already talked at length about the Stooges and Ron Asheton last month. Right now as I’m putting this together, the Cramps are being played over the air on WXDU. Thanks guys!

So, where this might be a promising year for modern music, we’re already off to a nervous start for the classics and the ones who have inspired us. Time to show respect for our elders.


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