Yessir there’s plenty of Christmas pop and rockers, do-wop-a-doers, and soul twisters. They never stop coming, every year brings more remakes and holiday pastiches and original turns, a few good uns too; the rock and pop Christmas tune never going out of sight or out of style. Had a million different favorites myself, liked ‘em serious, solemn, sexy, soulful, antic, blasphemous, tawny, jazzy, woeful, sarcastic, folkifized, solo Beatle, real Beatle, Beatle-like, corny, powerpoppish, reflective, heartfelt, satirical, rebellious, preachy, old school, trad, subversive, and even sweet.
Right now, today, this December, my current absolute fave rave, the one spinning repeatedly on my internal holiday season turntable, the current Tops of the Christmas Pops is The Sonics 1965 “Santa Claus.” It’s a propulsive and molten stomp all over the still ruddy cheeked Santa archetype, a plaintive holiday yelp with a backbeat (signaling “Farmer John”) where the lead vocalist (with a truly glorious garage rock guttural howl) asks Santa for no more than “a brand new car, a twangy guitar and a cute little honey with lots of money.” The cool daddy holiday surprise is that this early 60’s version of Santa lays the shattering truth on the entitled-mondo- boot-wearing-rebel-with-a-bleat–it’s-always-about-me-shaking-my-hair-budding-protest –kid with a stark indifference, as the dumbfounded singer exclaims in the chorus:
“And he just say nothing,
The Runaways: The Runaways
Don't let the teevee tube or the records being released fool you! Teenage America's spirit is not sagging (empty helium balloons surrounded by Paul McCartney records). CB radios, disco, the Fonz, the cast of Welcome Back, Kotter: THAT'S SHELLAC, JACK!!
Punk nouveau is hot as blazes, reading fast, groping even into, and very, very soon (maybe tomorrow) punk rock is going to start hips shaking on every street corner, wiping out the boredom set deep in every teenager's eyes (put to snooze by Elton John and assorted wimps). That's the Punk Rock Revival II, meaning no more clean-cut pop and lotsa dirty, badass rock 'n' roll. Kim Fowley knows it's coming. Patti Smith and the Ramones are perpetrating it. And damn, the Runaways have grasped IT!
Calling themselves "Queens of Noise" in their anthem ‘American Nights’ (as teenage a call-to-arms as you'll ever hear), the Runaways have earned the right to scream "I'm sixteen and proud," play sloppy, and strut like they were the Rolling Stones. The Runaways don't try to hide the fact that their band was obviously spawned in a garage, educated on the shakin' streets, and measured in terms of its own sexuality.
If you can imagine it, there once existed a bizarre cross between American punk's Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the author of the histrionic "Paralyzed," and rockabilly's the Phantom, who won our hearts with the mysterious "Love Me."
His name was the Dootz, and he singlehandedly created a stylistic blend that can only be described as mutant American primitivism. This radical sound, born in the early '80s, was downright psychotic to the point of being transcendental. It was the creation of one David Frey Johns, who had spent most of his life singing to records in his room and wailing in friends' showers, hoping one day to be heard in a social context.
As a child David Johns was called "Duke" by his father, a nickname that eventually evolved into "Dootz." "My dad and I used to sing together when we went to church," the Dootz once told me, "but we had our own version of 'Onward Christian Soldiers.' Everybody else was singing it the right way.
Johns' earliest musical influences were typical--Elvis, the Beatles, Buddy Holly--but he was especially devoted to James Brown and Jackie Wilson, two performers who possessed an intense emotional style both on record and in performance. At times, the future Dootz even considered himself more of a soul singer because he could reach deep down and pour himself inside out with feelings from real-life experience.
Outlaw rocker, poet Jim Carroll passed away on September 11th, 2009. His music and writing will be missed by all of us, but perhaps as with all great artists, as they move on, he leaves us with the legacy of his words - and music - and has somehow achieved a measure of immortality.
Mr. Carroll, you will be missed.