After a night of ringing ears & too-stomped feet—a night on which I can proudly say that I danced onstage with (& touched, twice) (!!!!!!) one of my most idolized of idols—I feel I must take this time to salute the Godfather of Punk, the World's Forgotten Boy: Iggy Fucking Pop.
[ My sole attempt at a picture onstage. For obvious reasons, I gave up quickly & danced my ass off to "Shake Appeal." ]
This entry came quick—poured out with endorphins & sweat—because unlike Bowie, who is enigmatic, cerebral, fading in & out in shades, Iggy is simple; raw; the absolute strongest, most feral distillation of Rock & Mother Fucking Roll. At 63—sixty-three—this utter fireball of a man, with skin burnt & sagging over straining muscles, veins spidering out in raised squiggles on his left shoulder—this dilapidated, drug-collapsed shell of a body stage-dived, thrice, flailed & screamed like he was boiled alive by every guitar wail, every thrum of the bass, slap of the snare. There's a passage of his from Please Kill Me (required reading, for every human) that I think about constantly, every time a song gives me goosebumps:
I wanted the music to come out of the speakers and just grab you by the throat and just knock your head against the wall and just basically kill you. That’s want I wanted. And it never did that enough for me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it. I couldn’t get the treble to hurt enough, I couldn’t get the bass to hit you enough, I couldn’t get the beat hard enough, and so on, and so on, and so on. So I kept doing mix after mix after mix until I was crazier and crazier. But it still was not hard enough, you know?
& this is what I will always love most about Iggy: that he recognizes—&, in fact, strives for—that moment when music transcends its sound waves & crawls through your pores, tingles toxic in your blood until, flesh heavy, you have to fucking thrash it away: writhe like the exorcised, like leeches, cutting out your heart for the Gods. Music is never so good as when it hurts—but even then, there's music & then there's music & then there's Iggy Pop, operating on another plane: that level just past tangible, reaching down your throat & taunting the beast that lurks behind your bones. Raw power—& honey, I can feel it.
Today's Headphone Fodder:
Gimme Danger (Live at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, 9/16/73)—Iggy Pop.
Sometime, somewhere, someone told me that poetry can be defined as the least number of the most beautiful words. If so, then Iggy Pop is possibly the most talented poet I know, spilling forth lyric after lyric, most made up on the spot: utterly bare-bones phrases that are somehow more right than anything else.
Soul radiation in the dead of night; love in the middle of a firefight; honey, gotta strike me blind.
Give me danger, little stranger, & I'll feel your disease.
& on & on. Some of the brevity is intentional: when Iggy was starting out, he would write songs like letters to Soupy Sales—that is, in 25 words or less. (No fun, my babe, no fun—a whole verse & only four!)
Still, where it really gets me is in the improvisations, the deviations into raw, unscripted soul that you're likely to find on any live recording of his. Like in this version of "Gimme Danger," with its desperate, ad-libbed bridge: "& I, I wanna be touched, & I’m a'gonna be loved," devolving quickly to the base "& I want, & I need." Just a subject & a verb, & still they slice—just too honest; simple & perfect: poetry.