Thanks so much to my Twitter pal @oneplanetmikey who sent me this video link, after I tweeted a reference to Iggy Pop last night – and now also Regina Pritchard and Naomi Lee for putting me on to the other version now at the bottom of the post – Iggy live on Countdown. One of the funniest things I have ever seen. Where are those children now? It would have changed your life forever…
On a very dreary, rainy Sunday night, with my husband glued to some ghastly Grand Prix, I posted: ‘I’m the Chairperson of the Bored’, as in Mr Pop’s genius song ‘I’m Bored’.
I’m sick of all the stiffs
I’m sick of all the dips
I bore myself to sleep at night.
I bore myself in broad daylight.
I’m the Chairman of the Bored.
It’s youthful angst distilled into one perfect three minute pop song.
Watching this clip reminded me of why I was fairly obsessed with the Igster from about 1977 on. And I needed reminding because I have been very very cross with him these past few years for doing those terrible insurance ads.
How could he sell out like that? The Ig?
I can’t bear the thought of those advertising wonks even listening to his music, let alone appropriating the anthems of my rebellion to advertise one of the more evil institutions of the SYSTEM.
I might have to put my Seditionaries anarchy shirt on to express how it makes me feel. Shame I sold it in a broke moment in 1980. (And it wouldn’t fit over my head if I did still have it.)
I wasn’t remotely surprised when John Lydon AKA Rotten, started advertising butter a few years ago. While I was a massive fan of the Sex Pistols back in the day, John was never cool. It was one of the things that made him so great.
He really didn’t give a shit what anyone thought about him – and watching him on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few years ago, he still doesn’t. I love him for it.
Iggy, however, was on a level of cool all his own. He didn’t have to try, he didn’t aspire to cool and work at it, he was born that way. He didn’t become cool, he defined how we now understand it.
I’ve been reading the very interesting oral history of punk recently, Please Kill Me, which is a collection of quotes from a very disparate range of people who were there, collated into a historic narrative.
Iggy and the Stooges feature right from the earliest late 1960s genesis of what we came to call Punk Rock and it’s fascinating to read about the young James Osterberg (his real name). He didn’t adopt an on-the-edge persona, or lifestyle, he lived it. It’s just who he was.
I’ve also read about his later LA years in Danny Zuckerman’s gripping drug memoir Wonderland Avenue (which I am eternally grateful to Mia Freedman for putting me on to years ago).
Although I must say here, that Iggy’s drug abuse and dependency was always the least interesting thing about him. That was never what made him interesting to me – he was amazing despite the drugs, not because of them. And for surviving the stupid things he did to himself.
That aside, reading about the early years confirms that what you see when Iggy is leaping around isn’t some kind of stage persona, it’s the direct expression of the his life force. He was born with that body (and allegedy the biggest donger in rock and roll…) and he was born with that style.
And you just have to look at the blokes in his band in the live clips, to be reminded that was what even rock ‘n’ roll dudes looked like in the late 70s – so dorky – and to appreciate just how radical Iggy was by comparison.
So watching those clips has reminded me why I hitchhiked round Britain following him on his 1979 tour, to be right at the front watching him roll around in broken glass.
And I’ve forgiven him for the insurance ads. Just.
PS Note the non-sock action with the lace up shoes and suit in the top video clip. Guys doing that now think they’re radical…
Now here’s that famous Countdown appearance. I’d love to hear from any of you who saw it when it was on TV and hear the effect it had on you. I think this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He’s like an insane labrador on coke, then the total lack of pretending to sing live, with the microphone down the pants. Heaven. His body reminds me of Nureyev. He could have been an amazing dancer, all that natural strength and bendiness.