“The main effect of time on ideas is to normalise them, to knock the rough edges off them; but often the rough edges are the idea.”
-Brian Eno (on the Adam Buxton Podcast)
Iggy joined a band that played Kinks’ songs and the like at a place called the ‘Ponytail Club’ that was a teen club frequented by the kids of families like the Du Ponts of the huge chemical company notoriety and wealth. The band was called ‘The Iguanas’.
These ‘teen clubs’ have gone now. Before the 195os there was no such thing as teenagers. Then ‘teenager’ became an iron clad category of human development and social life developed outlets accordingly. In the sense of socialising I think that category no longer exists. We jump from child to adult in the partying sense in the way people used to jump from child to adult in the working sense and teenage discos are the almost exclusive territory of church groups today.
A lot of bands came through the Ponytail Club to play- greats of R ‘n’ B and Blues and often they had no drummer when they rolled up (makes you wonder what was happening to these poor drummers. First to be eaten when money runs short on the road perhaps?)
So young Jim sat in and played…
…And he learned.
Right from the beginning you can see that he was hungry for an education. This is where the old man he is now would be happy with the young man he was then and that is a nice thing to be able to say.
He took in how these outfits played but he took in more too. He took in how they acted, how they performed on and OFF stage, the way they occupied space and moved through the world, the way they dressed and the way they spoke, the way they held a drink or a cigarette, how to add style to the substance. The outward existence of Iggy Pop was taking shape there.
It was a fine education, but he worked hard. You can hear real fondness for this time of his life when he talks about it but in his own words-
“I had some fury too.”
He started writing then, he always felt he had something to say and the right to say it.
He got a DUI (that’s American for drink-driving) while working at the Ponytail, got the band fired and wrote his first lyrics-
“Why do you hate me, why to you hate me, why do you hate me like you do?
One day I’ll have the stuff; and I’ll come after you.”
This is the peapod; this is where all the elements that would make the life and career of Iggy Pop were starting to mix together and threatening to explode.
After The Iguanas Jim played with a band called ‘The Prime Movers’ for a while but it wasn’t for him. The music wasn’t for him and drumming or “looking at someone else’s ass” was increasing not for him.
He had the urge to perform. Iggy Pop was ready to be born.
If Jim’s childhood is one I imagine in the form of a painting (remember the family posing outside their trailer home in front of a field of waving corn), this late adolescence period feels to me like a series of short stories revolving around the mess of hormones, hopes, history and ambition that most of us have to push ourselves through like some pathetic, weak and blind mammal.
When I was in school in was pretty common to be in a band that had never actually played anything. Music was pretty much our whole culture so kids were constantly talking about forming bands and what they would play and what they would sound like and by extension who you might be. I didn’t matter if you had any musical talent, it didn’t matter if you could play, there was no other way to be in the world, no other acceptable way to express yourself. We were fish; music was water.
Naming these bands was a pleasure and a great philosophical responsibility. I wrote a poem about that and you can read it here-
That’s the way the Stooges came together. Four friends with nothing better to do in their late teens in the late sixties in an area that was alive with the energy of the counter culture deciding that they wanted to be in a band, that life was the one for them. They could work out the details, like who would play what instrument and who COULD play what instrument, later.
The early Stooges sounded very much like the early Einstürzende Neubauten. They were dropping microphones into oil drums and beating on them. They were making noise with the tools available and then trying to shape that noise into something more structured, more musical. Improvised jazz on industrial tools.
The Stooges worked through that stage before they started recording and being recorded so there is only word of mouth evidence for the noises they produced then as far as I know but they never lost that feeling of managing and simplifying energy and noise. Chaos must be created in order to shave it down and reveal something moving and powerful.
This time in the life of a person, artist or band may be essential.
Jamie Lynch is an Irishman living in England. He is the author of numerous short stories, poems, child’s stories and a novel entitled “Opinion Pieces”. He has been published online and in print. He also writes the lyrics for the band “The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show”, who play at the crossroads where David Cronenberg and Merle Haggard meet. He maintains a blog at www.thestoriesihaveinme.wordpress.com.
Read for free: “Bodies” https://thefictionpool.com/2017/01/15/bodies-by-jamie-lynch/; “The Night I got lost on the way home from China” http://www.litro.co.uk/2015/02/the-night-i-got-lost-on-the-way-home-from-china/; “The Pleasures of Reading Short Stories” http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/12/the-pleasures-of-reading-short-stories/
& any- and every- single thing on http://www.thestoriesihaveinme.wordpress.com
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show on soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/medicine-show-136232208
Debut album “Weeding out the Wicked” out now here-
And available for digital download worldwide from 19th May 2017.
Children’s Stories on Kindle: ”The True Story of how Plopinton got its name” https://www.amazon.co.uk/true-story-how-Plopington-name-ebook/dp/B00DY8S2XM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485361666&sr=8-1&keywords=The+True+story+of+how+plopington+got+its+name