Iggy Pop, the still young godfather of punk
Iggy Pop, the American punk pioneer who became an icon for generations of musicians and fans, turned 74 this year, but his wit and vitality seem as indestructible as they were in the 1960s. Last month , when the musicians paid a collective tribute to the Velvet Underground by covering all the songs from their debut in 1967, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Pop sang a version of European son it was so virulently punk that it even overshadowed the beautiful original version sung by Lou Reed.
He certainly seems to have found the secret to staying young. In a September 17 interview with The Guardian, Pop gives credit to his constant quest for new music. He is quoted as saying, “I keep reading that we are declining into our 70s, so I try to keep using my brain.” Discovering new music opens my mind and the element of surprise keeps me connected.
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Pop has had a tumultuous career. When he burst onto the scene with his band, The Stooges, in the late 1960s, they set the stage for the emergence of punk in the 1970s. Back then – an era of anti-war protests , psychedelia and the mantra of the hippie movement “turn on, plug in, give up” – Pop and his band were out of place at all. They were loud and loud; he and his group hardly conformed to what was considered âcoolâ. It was only later that the music of the Stooges, in particular The Stooges, Fun house and Brute force, released between 1969 and 1973, became hugely influential and, in many ways, sparked the birth of punk.
Pop later succumbed to the darker aspects of the rock scene: addiction and burnout. But a meeting (followed by a collaboration) with British rock star David Bowie kickstarted his career – and he hasn’t looked back since.
In later phases of his career, Pop reinvented himself as an exponent of post-punk, new wave and hard rock. Additionally, the reincarnation influenced another generation of young bands, including Nirvana, REM, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Pop continued to evolve. Most recently, he collaborated with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and ventured into projects such as an adaptation of the work of poet Dylan Thomas.
His influence on musicians and fans continues, especially with some of his behind-the-scenes projects. Since 2015, Pop has hosted a Friday night show on the BBC where he serves a cocktail of old music and, of course, in keeping with his quest for discovery, new.
This show, each past episode of which is available online for a limited number of days, is Iggy Pop’s biggest current influence on listeners as well as new groups. Surprisingly, the septuagenarian is able to roam the stage and uncover some surprisingly good new acts – and his tongue-in-cheek and often insightful commentary makes for a delightful listen.
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Iggy Confidential is, in fact, a demonstration of what Pop means when he says his secret elixir for staying young is discovering new music. But it’s also a wonderful way to learn both contemporary and classical rock and pop music. And on the backstories. In the September 24 episode of his typically two-hour show, he played Call me during the day, a track by Los Angeles rock surfer band La Luz, and then I observed how similar the chord changes were to a much older song, Baby it’s you, written by Burt Bacharach. Then he reminded listeners that when The Beatles made their US debut, it wasn’t with their first studio album, Please make me happy, but with an album released by Vee-Jay Records titled Presentationâ¦ of the Beatles. Six of the 12 songs on this album were Beatles cover versions of other people’s songs, one of them was Bacharach’s Melody. For various legal reasons, the album was not very successful, and counterfeiting made original copies difficult to find.
In another episode, featuring a song from The Doors, Roadhouse Blues, the opener of the 1970s Morrison Hotel, he observed that the song was one of the first where the band approached bass through guitar instead of keyboards. It was because they had enlisted the famous Southern guitarist, the late Lonnie Mack, to play bass, giving the Los Angeles band’s song a southern accent.
Such ideas apart, Iggy Confidential is a good place to join Pop as he pursues his musical discoveries: new groups like Calva Louise of Manchester, a trio whose catchy melodic pop is worth seeing; or Arushi Jain, a composer born in India and living in the United States, modular synthesizer and singer who reinterprets Hindustani classical music using electronic arrangements.
What is never boring about his shows is the way he moves forward and backward on his playlist. He could play I’m not like everyone else by The Kinks from 1966 and continue with Her by American singer Poppy, 26, whose music has equal influences of pop and industrial metal.
There is no doubt that Iggy Pop’s magic potion for staying young is music.
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