The Sex Pistols, "Submission"

>> Sunday, June 03, 2012





I know, it's weird, right? The caption on the video says it's The Sex Pistols, but then, if you play it, it's a bunch of old guys, fronted by a lead singer who sounds a little like the guy from Public Image, Ltd.

I'm sorry. That was kinda mean. I just couldn't help it. Johnny, guys, I love you to pieces. And the anti-Blair rant that gets a little cut off at the end is fucking awesome.

The story I heard--or maybe read, I think it was in Rolling Stone, not that that magazine ever knows anything about anything--was that the late Malcolm McLaren, dickhead extraordinaire and the Pistols' manager, wanted them to do a song about bondage called "Submission", because McLaren's main gig was running a clothing and toys store called SEX (if you can't guess what kind of clothing and toys from the store's name, you really need to talk to your parents). And the band really didn't want to do it, but they felt forced to, and so, finally, after agonizing over it, they decided to be funny about it and write a song about a submarine. "Sub mission," get it? One of them, I think it was probably Lydon, said, "That song was about taking the piss out of Malcolm McLaren."

The even funnier part, to me, being that it's a pretty awesome song. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who liked the Pistols who didn't love that one. That whole lurching stop-and-go rhythm riff and Lydon trying to sound like he's drowning or at least singing with his lips in the swimming pool; it's just a lot of fun. And you gotta love the idea it's a big ol' "fuck you" to Malcolm McLaren, too, who really was (by just about any account except his own inevitably self-aggrandizing version) an asshole.

My other favorite story about the Pistols is the claim the original members got their first kit when roadies at a David Bowie gig left the trucks unwatched during or after loadout. That one may be myth, self-created or otherwise, but it's the kind of story that ought to be true.

There's an oft-told version of things that the Pistols didn't ever know how to play their instruments--and it's often told by the band members, themselves--but then you watch The Filth And The Fury and you realize that while these guys, being from the slums, didn't have any formal training whatsoever, they rehearsed and practiced relentlessly, with the kind of fervor you only have when you're stuck on the bottom of a shoe and have nowhere to escape to except either rock and roll or prison. You can maybe pick and quibble over whether they ever had any technical sense of their craft--I'd contend their lack of schooled craft has nothing to do with their knowing exactly what they were doing, agreeing with whatever critic once contended you don't record a song like "God Save The Queen" that gets banned by the BBC almost the instant it's released without knowing exactly what you're doing.







2 comments:

timb111 Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 11:06:00 AM EDT  

I went (actually I continued to sit here) and watched Sex Pistol's God Save The Queen. Very appropriate for her Golden Jubilee and a pretty good song too. Looking it up on Wikipedia I see that it was written for her Silver Jubilee. Fifty long years as a welfare recipient and a descendant of sociopaths she (and her lack-luster descendants) should be remembered in that kind of song.

I do see a difference in the band member's appearance, but I note that in the recently recorded Submission video that the young are featured prominently in their fan base.

timb111 Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 5:29:00 PM EDT  

Of course after posting the above screed which interests absolutely nobody. I run across this video clip of the Queen endorsing the Canada Party to lead the US. Maybe there is hope for her.

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