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Posts Tagged ‘Iggy Pop

“I find it hard to focus looking forward. So I look backward.”*…

In 1995, “the Godfather of Punk,” Iggy Pop published a review in the scholarly journal Classics Ireland

In 1982, horrified by the meanness, tedium and depravity of my existence as I toured the American South playing rock and roll music and going crazy in public, I purchased an abridged copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Dero Saunders, Penguin). The grandeur of the subject appealed to me, as did the cameo illustration of Edward Gibbon, the author, on the front cover. He looked like a heavy dude. Being in a political business, I had long made a habit of reading biographies of wilful characters — Hitler, Churchill, MacArthur, Brando — with large profiles, and I also enjoyed books on war and political intrigue, as I could relate the action to my own situation in the music business, which is not about music at all, but is a kind of religion-rental.

I would read with pleasure around 4 am, with my drugs and whisky in cheap motels, savouring the clash of beliefs, personalities and values, played out on antiquity’s stage by crowds of the vulgar, led by huge archetypal characters. And that was the end of that. Or so I thought.

Eleven years later I stood in a dilapidated but elegant room in a rotting mansion in New Orleans, and listened as a piece of music strange to my ears pulled me back to ancient Rome and called forth those ghosts to merge in hilarious, bilious pretense with the Schwartzkopfs, Schwartzeneggers and Sheratons of modern American money and muscle myth. Out of me poured information I had no idea I ever knew, let alone retained, in an extemporaneous soliloquy I called ‘Caesar’.

When I listened back, it made me laugh my ass off because it was so true. America is Rome. Of course, why shouldn’t it be? All of Western life and institutions today are traceable to the Romans and their world. We are all Roman children for better or worse. The best part of this experience came after the fact — my wife gave me a beautiful edition in three volumes of the magnificent original unabridged Decline and Fall, and since then the pleasure and profit have been all mine as I enjoy the wonderful language, organization and scope of this masterwork.

Here are just some of the ways I benefit:

1 I feel a great comfort and relief knowing that there were others who lived and died and thought and fought so long ago; I feel less tyrannized by the present day.

2 I learn much about the way our society really works, because the system-origins — military, religious, political, colonial, agricultural, financial — are all there to be scrutinized in their infancy. I have gained perspective.

3 The language in which the book is written is rich and complete, as the language of today is not.

4 I find out how little I know.

5 I am inspired by the will and erudition which enabled Gibbon to complete a work of twenty-odd years. The guy stuck with things. I urge anyone who wants life on earth to really come alive for them to enjoy the beautiful ancestral ancient world…

Iggy in roughly that period

Iggy Pop on the relevance of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall in particular, and of history in general: “Caesar Lives.” (Free JSTOR registration may be required.)

* Iggy Pop


As we note, with Faulkner, that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past,” we might recall that on the pop music charts on this date in 1967, The Monkees continued into the New Year at #1 with “I’m A Believer.” “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen was second, with Aaron Neville making a push for the top with “Tell It Like It Is”.  Former #1 “Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band grabbed the #4 spot, followed by Nancy Sinatra (“Sugar Town”), and Dad Frank (“That’s Life”). The rest of the Top 10:  Boise, Idaho’s Paul Revere & the Raiders with “Good Thing”, the Mamas and the Papas climbed from 19 (to #8) with “Words Of Love”, the Four Tops nearly matched that with “Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” while Donovan took a turn downward with “Mellow Yellow.” On the album chart, The Monkees made it nine weeks on top with their eponymously-titled first release.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 7, 2021 at 1:01 am

So it went…


In the late 70s, Tony Wilson— who would go on to co-found Factory Records (the seminal independent label that embodied “The Manchester Sound”) and The Hacienda (the warehouse-based club that was the birthplace of the rave)– hosted a tea-time television show called So It Goes.

A weekly arts/culture/music series, the program’s passion was emerging new pop music…  which in those days meant Punk and New Wave.

The Way We Were is a Channel 4 (UK) retrospective first broadcast circa 1984.– a compilation of performances by bands performing on So It Goes– many of them making their TV debuts: Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Iggy Pop, The Fall, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Penetration, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Tom Robinson, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke, XTC and Joy Division…

[TotH to Richard Metzger and his essential Dangerous Minds for the lead to TWWW]

As we slam dance down memory lane, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976– as we in the U.S. were beginning our Bi-Centennial Day celebrations– that the Clash gave their first public performance: they opened for the Sex Pistols at The Black Swan in Sheffield, England.  As U2 guitarist The Edge later wrote, “This wasn’t just entertainment. It was a life-and-death thing….It was the call to wake up, get wise, get angry, get political and get noisy about it.”

The Clash, 1976 (source)


The grand old man of pit-diving, Iggy Pop, has gotten in touch with his inner chanteur.  His new album, Préliminaires (officially released in the U.S. today), is ballad after ballad.

But perhaps as interestingly, The Shirtless One’s newest has lyrics based on French author Michel Houellebecq’s apocalyptic clone saga The Possibility of an Island… and so takes its place as the latest in a distinguished line (Dylan, Bowie, Pink Floyd, et al.) of rock albums based on important works of literature.

As we hum along, we might tip the birthday beret to Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, born on this date in 1744.  In one popular version of his life, he was he was a nobleman and great magus; in the other, a scheming fraud. The latter holds that Cagliostro was born Giuseppe Balsamo to a poor family in Palermo, Sicily, and that, when his father died, he was educated at the expense of some of his mother’s relatives. It has been said that he robbed his uncle, forged a will, and spent time in Palermo’s prisons more than once.  (Indeed, his reputation as a charlatan is so great that he shows up as a crooked character in Marvel’s Dr. Strange) In any case, it does seem that he was a “man of the era”– he knew and mixed with illustrious contemporaries like Mozart, Goethe, Casanova, and Catherine the Great…  but apparently not his fellow noble and birthday buddy, the Marquis de Sade (who was born on this date four years earlier, in 1740).

Alessandro di Cagliostro

A mouse that roars…


Long-time (pre-blog) readers will recall Brian Burton– aka Danger Mouse– and his Grey Album, a mash-up of the Beatles (White Album) and JayZ that landed Mr. Mouse in trouble with the Beatles’ distributor, EMI…  trouble that lingers.

So readers may be delighted-but-not-altogether-surprised at the release strategy for the new Danger Mouse album:  It’s  collaboration with David Lynch and Sparklehorse, featuring , among others, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Black Francis (The Pixies), Vic Chesnutt, The Flaming Lips, James Mercer (The Shins), Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Nina Person (The Cardigans), and Iggy Pop (Stooges, Bowie, et al.)…  pretty much a must-hear!

Rather than release this latest work in the traditional way, and face legal issues with EMI, Danger Mouse will be selling a blank CD-R along with lots of artwork.  Buyers will be responsible for finding the music themselves (indeed, it’s findable on the internet, e.g., here) and burning the CD.

One tips one’s ears to you, Mr. Mouse!

As we limber our surfing fingers and contemplate changes in retail-as-we-know-it, we might recall that it was on this date 161 years ago, in 1848, that the first real department store, Alexander Turney Stewart’s Marble Palace, at Broadway and Chambers Street in New York City, opened…

The Marble Palace
(later the home of the New York Sun; now a City office building)

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