Iiiiiii waannnaa beeeeeeee anarcheeeeee

I don’t really, I just happened to be watching this video and I saw the Circle A on Machine Gun Kelly’s stomach

And it made me think of the Sex Pistols


I don’t know if it was the first, but Anarchy in the UK was probably the best known mention of anarchy in a song and the subject was quickly picked up by other bands.  The Sex Pistols’ vision was of anarchy being a license to behave whoever the fuck they wanted.  Basically, it was a call for chaos.  It was obviously meant to be provocative, as almost everything they did was.  But the Circle A caught on and started showing up all over punk rock and heavy metal records and t-shirts, even on Dave Mustaine’s guitar.  Anywhere that angry young dudes congregated, the symbol was there.  Even now it’s in the name of a prominent television show.

What’s funny is that there were some bands that took the idea of anarchism – left wing Libertarianism- seriously.  I don’t, but I guess any idea will find some takers.  Crass may or may not have been the first anarchist band, but according to Wikipedia (…) they were the first to include the symbol in their imagery.

(this song actually dovetails nicely with my previous post- their anti-revolution song.  As a song though it’s really long and kind of boring, I’ll give you the shorter- don’t fight revolutions, peace is better)

I have no idea if it’s true if they were the first band to use the anarchy symbol.  But they were hugely influential for the peace punx or the crusty punx, or whatever those guys go by now.  They were deeply committed to their vision, living in a commune, playing deliberately abrasive music and dressing closer to Chinese Communist party members than punks.  I still find their bleak visual imagery really interesting, but I don’t listen them much anymore.  Except maybe this song- the most fuck you of fuck you songs I know of:

They ask me why I’m hateful, why I’m bad.
They tell me I got things they never had.
They tell me go to church and see the light.
Cos the good lord’s always right.

So what, so what?
So what if Jesus died on the cross.
So what about the fucker? I don’t give a toss.

It goes on from there.  Sex Pistols never managed to be that inflammatory.

The other notable anarchist band was also responsible for one of the most annoying songs of the 90s.  Can you guess who they were?

That’s right!  Chumbawamba!  I remember this song being in ads for Home Alone 2, along with just about everywhere else for a full year.  It was Who Let the Dogs Out level ubiquitous.  And people think they were a one-hit wonder, and maybe that’s true because they never had another true hit, but it was also maybe the longest of long cons ever pulled off in music.

Chumbawamba came out of the same peace punx scene that grew up around Crass in the early 80s.  They allegedly were a punk band when they started, but quickly abandoned the style.  Their first album, a concept record deriding celebrity charity records called Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, only occasionally hints at their punk roots:

They went on to cultivate more and more of a pop sound.  My favorite song by them is this one-

It’s actually pretty much a template for Tumbthumping.  I just like the chorus-

have a good time all the time, cause you won’t get nothing when you die

Punx, of course, quickly distanced themselves from Chumbawamba for going off the reservation but at the time when they hit their biggest I remember reading an interview with them that I thought was pretty interesting.  They were taking a lot of crap for “selling out” but they responded with- every time we get paid for one of these ads, we donate the money to anarchist groups.  So every time Nike or the NFL played that song, some European anarchist collective was getting a check.  That’s maybe the cleverest thing any anarchists did, ever.

And according to them, at the same time their leftist fans were calling them sellouts, their working class friends were happy for them that they were finally making money.  That struck me as something important and made me rethink my opinion of a lot of acts.

At any rate, to recap, I’m not an anarchist, at all, in fact I find their ideas mostly naive and implausible.  But it’s interesting how a simple idea went in two wildly different directions.


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