Recently, I was listening to Richard Hell's "Blank Generation" and I was again blown away by it. Everytime I hear it, I am enthralled by it. The first time I heard the song was while I was living in North Carolina and there was some PBS documentary about 70's punk. The moment that song came on, I couldn't get enough of it. The song is perfect.
Stone Groove used to say that the best rock song ever recorded was "Runaway" by Del Shannon. In high school, I was hanging out with this ubercool, chainsmoking, vinyl listening, black coffee drinking elitist who often made fun of my music tastes. I think he was in the midst of his "Black Angel Death Song" is the best song ever recorded mode. He was still in his VU mode before moving onto his free jazz mode before moving onto his bluegrass mode. I mentioned to him about my dad's theory on "Runaway." He thought about it for a moment and then responded that he might agree with my dad. What? Hipster Boy admits that Del Shannon is the best rock song ever?
Now I'm not here to say that "Blank Generation" is a better song than "Runaway." That is an argument for another time. But I have often thought that "Blank Generation" is the epitome of a rock and roll song. If a person had no idea what rock was, I believe that this song is the one to play to explain it.
It has that 50's Jerry Lee Lewis "I don't give a fuck about you or society" feel to it. It has that 70's "I don't give a fuck about you or society and I'm going to wear ripped clothing and fuck with your mind" feel to it. It really is the perfect hybrid of 50's energy and rebellion mixed with the 70's version of it. Of course, I'm a big fan of 60's rock, but there is nothing to my ear that would so easily encapsulate all of rock and roll's history and energy in the way that "Blank Generation" does.
The snooty lyrics (I belong to the blank generation/ I can take it or leave it each time) are equal parts quite meaningful and yet quite oblique. What the fuck is the blank generation? The "Ooooweeeoooos" are ripped straight from the 50's playbook of rock. The short and sweet guitar solo might preceded by Hell exhorting, "Take it" maybe my favorite guitar solo of all time. Or perhaps your favorite part is when he snorts, "I belong to the ____ generation." Really, simply perfect.
I defy you to come up with a better example of what rock and roll sounds like.
Richard says, "Fuck you Del Shannon!"
If you aren't sure, listen to the MP3. You might need to hit refresh to get it to play.
3 days ago