punk haiku 6 Finding the songs/ iggy and patti.

PUNK HAIKU: unheard stories and sounds from the proto-punk years                                            featuring Toronto's The Scenics

FEBRUARY 1977, Toronto




written by Andy during a week of listening to nothing but the Stooges .

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A very early version of the song of Ken's that appears of the Sunshine World CD as "Not Dead Yet".  I guess you could say this is "not Not Dead Yet yet"

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To hear 1977 studio recordings of Do the Wait, Not Dead Yet, Great Piles of Leaves, I'm Hurt, and Wild Trout, go to the Sunshine World CD.)

 In November, 1976 I was on a train east out of Toronto en route to my sister Janet’s 100 year old farmhouse. Slate roof, wrap-around porch,  Ontario winter. I was writing a song in the train, lifting the chords from Waiting for My Man (with a couple of changes) because I had no guitar and no way of remembering what I was writing. Besides, this new song kinda related:

       “Some say Jenny Janey found it looking for work

some say Maurice himself found it in line for the clerk

     some say society taught it to us from birth

all I know is sweet heaven I’m waiting for all that I’m worth.

It’s just the sweetest thing you have ever  seen

like walking standing still in a dream

Do the Wait.”


   When I got back to T.O., Ken brought in a sleepy, insiduous tune that crawled about inside itself. Not Dead Yet.

“On the porches

they are vacant

watching dust settle 

all around all around

and each one of them

thought of what she would wear.”


    At the end of February I wrote a fable, Great Piles Of Leaves-

“His father always told him that perfection wasn’t nessecary

as long as he always got things right.

His father always gave him everything he ever wanted so

he always asked his father every night.

   I want to play like Pablo Casals

when I pick up my cello

I can practice just as hard and as well

think I’ll start with the preludes.”


  And then a twisting, surging rocker with a series of caves in it-

“When I told you       I was on fire

When I told you    I just smiled

Thought it over  as you ran to get the water

I’ll be gone tomorrow you’ll remember my smile.

I’m Hurt   I’m burning   I’m Hurt   I understand.”


    Both of these songs wrote me, pulling me through them to the end as fast as I could get them down, on tape or paper, as structures formed  I couldn’t imagine in advance. Ken responded with a happy rocker that showed what happens when you give a city boy a country river, a sunny day, a sandwich, and a beer.


“I seek a Wild Trout

not some trout pond dullard

I seek a WIld Trout

he must be a sleek creek dweller”. 



   And so it continued through 77, through 78, 79, 80, and 81. New songs, surprising and entertaining me as they arrived on paper or tape, or with Ken and his guitar. And always, it was assumed that you were writing from the soles of your feet. Anything less would wither on the vine and not make it past the second rehearsal.



   Five days after writing “Great Piles of Leaves” Iggy Pop played a big barn of a room at Seneca College in Northern T.O. “The Idiot” had just been released and people were considering Iggy’s shift away from raw punk to teutonic two-step- the stooges legacy was so powerful that  people were not conceding Iggy this move- today, “The idiot” is considered his strongest solo LP,  almost in a league with the Stooges.  After a couple lps he moved back to heavy rock, probably because he lost the company of Bowie, and, what, he was going to be effete by himself? 

Bowie was playing keyboards in his touring band in 77, laying back and smiling, singing harmonies,  and that has been  touted as the reason the punks did not relegate him to the same junk heap that the Beatles, Stones, etc ended up on. It was more than that, though. The Stones and Beatles heydey had been a whole decade earlier, and Bowie had been the thrust that had overthrown them. The Beatles were literally history, the Stones had fallen off the basement throne that was “Exile on Main St”, and meanwhile, Bowie had continued doing brilliant work with “Low” and “Heroes”, albums that were so searingly inventing the future of post rock that they could not possibly be called the past. The truth is, the punks looked up to Bowie.


I had of course bought tickets for Iggy right away, and then lost my wallet with them in it, and then stood in the Don Mills police station spelling out “i-g-g-y  p-o-p” to the seargent while he gave me the one eyebrow cocked look that all police officers are born with.

I got “The idiot” a few days before the show, when it came out. I was really sick with a flu. God, it was dark, re-orienting, cold, a new level of alienation from the Ig, a man, on drugs and disoriented in Berlin after already being fucked over once by the music industry, no longer a Michigan trailer trash kid on testosterone and whatever else he could swallow. It was funny how Bowie, with Raw Power and the Idiot, bracketed Iggy’s remove from and re-entry into the music biz. With “raw power” Bowie used his glam rock focus  and commercial success to quickly pop one more lp out of a blue-in-the-face, drooling Iggy Stooge (who showed his appreciation by famously stating “That carrot top ruined my record”) and then in 77, he brought Iggy into debauched gentleman status, immediately his continental kin.


     The night of the show I was sick as a dog, feverish, as if it was me coming down off of heroin with the idiot’s constant spinning on my  brain platter. Nothing that standing in line for an hour at night in the snow smoking joints couldn’t fix, followed by shuffling into the smoke filled hall. Where did all these people come from? 2000 Iggy fans was a surprise.


    The opening act was Blondie- at this point a  bouncy, raw,  girl band, Debbie Harry not much of a singer but looking great, although I was always more in the Patti camp (to the extent of writing a song called “Patti you need somebody to love” which climaxed with the tender sentiment 

        “though I’m already taken and a twelve hour drive away 

            I’m sure that I can get the car sometimes”) 

and I was therefore always condescending to Debby Harry. It took me a while to realize, she was, in fact, great, and the band was a lot of fun- Clem Burke on drums was a rush of excitement going five directions at once.

Iggy came out and opened with Raw Power, TV Eye, Dirt, 1969 and then alternated old and new for the rest of the set. Still a powerful performer, although no longer throwing himself into the audience.

We all got a kick out of David Bowie sitting at the keys in argyle socks and responded shyly to his reining in of his charisma for the gig. 


  A week later, Patti Smith and Sparks played at the same barn. “Radio Ethiopia” had just come out, and we really tried to like it, and could, but it was disappointingly earthbound after “Horses”, and the show was disappointing. “Kimberly”’s delicacy was replaced with a heavy rock  beat, and the rest of the songs follwed suit. In the early 70’s, Patti Smith had started as a solo, and then added Lenny Kaye, and then added Richard Sohl, etc. At each stage, she worked in the present, in real time, with the musicians, translating her inner magic into the arrangement and performance. This process (and John Cale’s production) is what makes Horses so remarkable. As the Patti Smith Group became a touring rock act, this process was replaced with the fact that, as players, they were not in the same league as, say, Talking Heads or Television. If Patti had fronted Television with songs written by her and Verlaine they would have been an American lower east side Roxy Music, capable of endless grainy self-invention.


 The other problem was that the sound at this show was terrible, somehow whatever Iggy had used to make the hall bearable not in place.   Sparks opening the show were fun, altho they too were in the process of stripping themselves down, in their case, in search of elusive North American success with the “Big Beat” LP.

    Speaking of  Television, after  a year and a half of anticipation caused by the Little Johnny Jewel 45, (disconnected roadside events coming into view and passing without ever quite coming in focus as your car drove down, down, down), “Marquee Moon”,  their first LP, came out on Elektra. It looked great,with great pictures, (Verlaine and Lloyd sitting in straight-backed kitchen chairs playing old Fenders in a warehouse space,) and after the blanket praise TV received, hopes were high in the Scenics camp. For me, I was let down on every front. It wasn’t a bad LP by any means, and “See no Evil” was a thrilling way to start, and “Marquee Moon” truly raised things up off the ground at the end, but...


   After “Little Johnny Jewel’s”  fluidity and embraced abstraction  here was rhythm guitar players earnestly strumming e minor chords, and Verlaine’s lyrics constantly distracting (“tell me who brings me these infamous gifts” being a line that begs for Sylvester the cat), and Tom’s vocals, while acceptable, never making themselves an indispensible listening experience, and clodhopper rhythms (the syncopated riff after the line “elevation don’t go to my head”- in itself another self-conscious line- neither harmonically nor rythmically punchy. Tom’s lyrics, supposedly funny, weren’t, and their look for me always jarred, but that was OK, the Rolling Stones look in the 60’s always jarred, their point being that they did not hang together visually (Unlike the Beatles, or Talking Heads). Don’t get me wrong, I thought Marquee Moon was a very cool LP by anything shy of the standards that TV’s press suggested. I think some of my problem with it came from my never seeing them live- I bet that would have made them make sense for me. In 1979 I saw Richard Lloyd play with Fred Smith on bass a week after getting home from New York. I almost got it. It opened up for me, and I could get inside the sound, a bit.




 PUNK HAIKU 7 is here. The Scenic Caves play to a crowd almost as big as the Rolling Stones', and find a home.



NEW PART IN TOWN (Andy Meyers, Allowed Sound Music) 

guitar/vocals Andy Meyers.   bass Ken Badger.  drums Mike Cusheon.


THIS DAY (NOT DEAD YET)  (Ken Badger, Timmy's Music) 

guitar/vocals Ken Badger.   bass/bgs Andy Meyers.  drums Mike Cusheon.


Recorded November, 1976, Neil Wycik Building

PUNK HAIKU AUDIO produced by Andy Meyers ©2010 Dream Tower Productions

PUNK HAIKU written by Andy Meyers.


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