Recession Punks

When the folks on my TV first started talking about our countries financial troubles I took a kind of guilty pleasure in it. When I see banks collapsing and retail stores dropping deeper and deeper in the red I can’t help but think of the punk music that it’s more than likely to cause.

The first great punk musician came out of our first great depression. As the stock market crashed and the jobs began to dry up Woody Guthrie picked up his trademark guitar and began a musical grassroots movement. Just like today’s punk bands, he toured the country playing tiny shows for the people at the bottom of the economic food chain and built a “scene” for the dispossessed and scorned. They hadn’t quite figured out the wardrobe or the hair cuts yet, but the anger and the unity was clearly there.

Three decades later, when the world economy experienced a thing called stagflation the punk movement exploded. The only lines longer than the ones at the gas pumps were the ones in front of the venues where bands like the Sex Pistols and The New York Dolls played. An entire generation of angry young people were trying to find someone who was saying what they were thinking, expressing the hopelessness that they saw around them. The lyrics had changed some and the music didn’t sound too familiar, but “This Land is Our Land” and “Anarchy in The UK” have more similarities than differences. In couple years the financial world pieced itself back together and the punk movement fell apart, but not before creating a strong, believable format for the angry and confused.

It only took another six or seven years for the colossal machinery of commerce to droop and sag again. Tirelessly the lower crust picked up old guitars and leather jackets to try to articulate the way that they felt. Bands like the Dead Kennedys and Bad Brains found that the basement shows they were playing were suddenly crowded. They saw that down there underground the teenagers were grouping together. They had forgotten the words to “My Sharona”; and instead were screaming “It’s time to taste/What you most fear”.

Our current economic downturn hasn’t generated a voice as widely recognized yet, but the anger is there. The songs are starting to rise to the surface, and the hopelessness is palpable. In the basements in Brooklyn a group of guys called The Motorcycle Industry just put out a track that could be the “Marines’ Hymn” for our decades dispossessed. On “Blue Ribbon” they scream it out for us:

We got ‘em right where we want ‘em,
If the stocks don’t rise we’ll hang ’em out to dry,
I got just what I wanted,
Watch the suit and tie fall from the high-rise.

LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at: lorenzowolff@gmail.com


More articles by:

LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at: lorenzowolff@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South