There have been times in the history of music, where the only legitimate musicians and composers were highly trained, highly skilled elites. Mozart, Beethoven and Bach were prolific geniuses who bestrode popular music and set the standard for future generations to follow. But as in all art forms, radical change came from movements at the margins with innovations born from necessity or opportunity. The new sound was often unpopular, derided as crude, and pushed to the margins from whence it came.
In the 1970s, popular music was dominated by musicians who were often highly skilled in songwriting or consummate technicians. 12 minute guitar solos and whole albums of conceptually rich, but almost unlistenable indulgence were not uncommon. But cracks were beginning to show. The first signs of change came from the urban punk scenes of New York and London and quickly spread their chaos and disorder through every record store and radio.
Soon it was enough to be able to play three chords loudly. Nick Lowe said that “When punk rock came along, the one thing that you were not supposed to be was musical”. It was anti-music.
For all its detractors, it made music accessible to people in a way it hadn’t been before. It democratised music and gave it to the kids who might not have been a Hendrix or a Paige, but knew how to make a noise and create a stir. Punk was about reform, revolution and disruption.
Henry Rollins said that “Questioning anything and everything, to me, is punk rock”.
So is it time for some punk physiotherapy then?