Thursday, August 9, 2012

Youth Brigade sings "Where Are All the Old Man Bars?" 
And I can answer that question!

All the Old Man Bars disappeared with all the old men, who were either arrested a couple times--their lives (what they had left of them) crushed by the police state with the cultural and legislative advent of DUI hysteria--and who thereby concluded in poverty, desolation and social exclusion, that America had no place or need for Old Men anymore, or, they came to the same conclusion without facing the sadists in blue, after being forced to march outside, (without their drinks) under the snow, rain or blazing hot sun, to puff on a smoke. All the Old Men--who were truly men--essentially said, fuck this shit, and decided to stay home so they could drink and smoke on their old hairy asses in dignity before they face death in a couple years from a systemic terminal disease no doubt propagated by their poor hygiene and joyous lifelong (on-again, off-again) marriage to alcohol, tobacco and illicit narcotics. They are not in denial. They'll probably die soon (in their 60s). They do not intend to repent or change their evil, sinful ways so they can shit their pants at a hospice to live another 20 years. They do not regret their mistakes or their errors, their myriad lapses in judgment, their injudicious choices for friends, neighbors and lovers, their missing teeth or broken bones, their lost memories or lost fist-fights. These things they do not regret because they finished all their regretting in smokey dive bars when America still had space for Old Men. They went home. And after America turned its back on them, they just did what the rest of us desperately need to do by turning their backs right back at America. They walked away. They went home. And they went to go die like real men do.



Then Youth Brigade launches into a great classic simply called "Violence". Keep in mind these lyrics were written in the early 1980s by a 20-year-old kid. Which makes them that much more awesome. Shawn Stern (the lead singer) explains away some of the meaning in a Punk Rock documentary, whose name I don't recall. I think the song is an interesting expression (and affirmation) of human nature, even if it's ugly. Which is exactly what Punk is...seeing the ugly bullshit of the world for what it is, accepting that you're part of it, and taking responsibility for it. There's a glorious ambiguity screaming through it. An upward inflection. A suggestion. An open question that most adult Americans simply will not face themselves. (And for those few who do, I'm betting there are even fewer who acknowledge their own willingness to applaud the use of state violence, as they simultaneously cheer for more war, drone strikes and local police enforcement--and brutality--of the limitless number of laws you can get arrested for breaking today.) Stern's honesty in this song is as brutal as the title:

Violence
They call us fascist and then they prey
To the god that made the world their way
In whose name they kill and teach
The sermons and the laws they preach

Violence, violence, violence, just for kicks
Violence, violence, violence, does it make any sense
Violence, violence, violence, can you stop it
Violence, violence, violence, do you want to

Philosophy borne of the mind
Try to explain the problems of our lives
It can't explain away
That violence is here to stay

Say it's just our nature, we have to fight, fight, fight!
Doesn't matter we've been taught that might makes right

Violence, violence, violence, just for kicks
Violence, violence, violence, does it make any sense
Violence, violence, violence, can you stop it
Violence, violence, violence, do you want to

Violence, violence, violence, violence
Violence, violence, violence, violence
Violence, violence, violence, violence
Violence, violence, violence, violence
Violence, violence, violence, violence

Violence, violence, violence, just for kicks
Violence, violence, violence, does it make any sense
Violence, violence, violence, can you stop it
Violence, violence, violence, do you want to

And here's one last song by Youth Brigade. It's a nostalgia piece. And a beautiful one at that. The lyrics are included below it. Enjoy!

Let Them Know
Remember when they called you punk
Yell and spit all kinds of shit
Attack us for what we believed
We were young and so naive
I was only seventeen
Filled with hope and a sense that we
Could change things and punk rock changed our lives

Let them know, let them know
I think about you, do you think about me?

Didn't think that we were part of any scene
We had no dreams of stardom, we were just kids
Played our music, put on shows
We toured the world and I suppose
I didn't thank you so I thought I'd write this song

Let them know, let them know
They did it for you, would you do it for them?
Let them know, let them know
I have to tell you how I feel
Sometimes I wonder, is this real?

I don't know if it's dumb luck, or if I really give a fuck
Looking back, its such a haze
I have no regrets I just want you to know that

Life is good, life is fine
I play my music all the time
And I'm writing about life naturally
Have you listened?
Has it helped, then i'm glad
And I want to tell you thank you
It means everything to me

Let them know, let them know
I think about you, do you think about me?
Let them know, let them know
I have to tell you how I feel
Sometimes I wonder is this real?
Let them know, let them know
They did it for you, did you do it for them?
Let them know, let them know

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