By Tre Eyden
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "punk rock" as "A form of hard-driving rock 'n' roll originating in the 1970s, characterized by harsh lyrics attacking conventional society and popular culture, and often expressing alienation and anger." I would agree with that, somewhat. Punk rock has become a style of music all its own, yet a majority of the population considers music to be punk that, well, simply isn't.
The genre of punk was first categorized in the late 1970s with such well-known bands as the Ramones and especially the Sex Pistols; however, there were many more bands that were punk that weren't recognized as punk simply because they didn't have "the sound." Punk rock has always been associated with heavily distorted power chords and people who can't sing, but almost everyone (except for dedicated "punkers") misses the most important aspect--the message. Punk is nothing without the message, and punk rock is only one aspect of punk in general.
Have you, as a possible punker, ever listened to Travelin' Soldier by the Dixie Chicks? Probably not. Why? Because it's a country song, right? Wrong. It's country style, but that song is 100% punk. Take a minute to look up the lyrics to that song. It brings up war and the pointless death of a loved one due to a fight that wasn't his. This is one of the main messages of punk.
So I guess it's time for my definition of punk. It's simple: punk is any style of music or writing that discusses social wrongs or concerns. It's not anti-America or crap about getting dumped (I'm sorry, but that's Emo, which is a far, far cry from punk). It's about the current state of the world, society, the government, war, or anything that someone thinks is wrong or of concern. Punk is a way to bring such issues to the public's attention. I hate to say it, but even President George Bush is punk in his own right.
Punk has always been a form of muckraking. For those of you who haven't reached that point in history class, muckrakers were people who started up independent newspapers to bring attention to the things that they believed were wrong with the American government. Punk rock is the exact same thing, only set to music.
Many of you are probably reading this and thinking of bands that you want to believe are punk. I hate to tell you, but if Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Dashboard Confessional, or even Green Day is popping into your mind, you're listening to Emo, not punk.
If you're thinking about Bad Religion, Pennywise, NoFX, Anti-Flag, or Strung Out, then I congratulate you. You figured it out. The latter bands reflect everything punk is about. They express their opinions of today's world (usually stated as fact, not opinion) and share them with humanity. But even these and other bands are doing something that is fundamentally against punk. They're making money off their music while they bitch about major corporations in their lyrics. They, of course, justify it by being on an "independent" label, but let's face it, those independent labels are still corporations.
Let's take a look at some other bands that aren't considered punk but are more punk than most bands classified as punk. The first is The Kinks. The only reason they're not considered punk is because they were popular in the '60s, not the '70s. But, again, almost every song was of significance--with a meaning and a message.
The Police are also an excellent example. While, no, they didn't have the in-your-face message that Bad Religion or NoFX has, they had the message. Message in a Bottle was about nothing more than a callous world. It's a song about "one hundred billion castaways looking for a home."
So, in conclusion (I'm so punk I choose to end things in a non-standard way), punk is not about how you dress, how you cut your hair, or even about how fast you can play power chords. Punk has nothing to do with having the most spikes on your necklace, or making sure your hair goes in a diagonal across your forehead. It's about something; something real; something of significance. The world doesn't care about your girlfriend or boyfriend who dumped you when you were 14. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't.
Punk is all about making people aware of important issues in a coherent manner. So please, cut your hair, not your wrists. And also remember, Hot Topic is NOT punk rock.
Very straightforward about how they feel, mostly concerning the American government.
Best album ? Land of the Free.
The quintessential punk band. Every album is focused on problems of the times. Took a dip in popularity while Bill Clinton was president because "We didn't have much to complain about."
Best album ? Suffer
In my opinion, one of the best punk bands ever. They brought current issues to the forefront with songs like "Gallon of Gas." Written during the gas shortage in the '70s, it lamented that they could find any kind of drug that they wanted, but not a gallon of gas.
Best album ? To the Bone.
Used to be about everything stupid. They had fun making their music funny. But lately, NoFX has become a political powerhouse. Fat Mike (lead singer/bass) started up the web campaign www.punkvoter.com.
Best Album ? The Decline.
The most in-your-face punk band next to Pennywise. With song titles like "Depleted Uranium is a War Crime" and "The Press Corpse," it's quite obvious that they have strong opinions.
Best album ? For Blood and Empire
The main band that doesn't get the proper label attached to it. Their genius is in their subtle undertones about the world.
Best album ? Take your pick.
Be the first to comment on this article!
NOTE: Because of problems with automated spambots entering hundreds of comments on our site, we no longer allow comments with links in them. Thanks for understanding.
You are posting from ip address 22.214.171.124