20.3.04

John McGeogh - A Cultural Perspective

I was very surprised at the news of Mr McGeogh's death, so I did a bit of searching, and to my amazement, there is hardly anything of note available on the net about John. Having witnessed the cultural explosion of British Punk Rock, I can say that individuals like John were a perfect example of what the original punk was all about. Much artier and intellectual than commonly perceived nowadays, punk rock was actually an explosion of brainyness back into the then current music scene, which at that time was dominated by overblown mysogynists with no opinions or cultural importance, save to a few 'wild and free' macho pretenders. After the dream of the 60's was over, the 70's degenerated into a nightmare of faded denim and vacant attitudes, drug fuelled pessimism and 'the straight people' ruling the roost. After 1976 though, everything changed, and the example set to us all by groups like Magazine, The Banshees and the Cure was one of bohemian exressionism, radical statement and a love for the avant garde. The weird people had returned! That celebration of individuality led to countless new ideas and a flourishing of artistic challenge. People like John McGeogh inspired higher goals, greater achievements, newer visions and above all, skill, creativity and invention. It is sad that punk is remembered as a musical style reminiscent of Blink 182, when the reality is that punk was arty, clever, dynamic and weird. In short, it was actually a left field cultural movement designed to alienate the 'straights', and leave them to disco purgatory. McGeogh stands in elevated company, as many of the cultural heroes of that time are all for the most part ignored: Ian Curtis, Siouxsie Banshee, Howard Devoto, David Thomas [Pere Ubu], Devo, The Slits, Comsat Angels, Furious Pig,The Residents, Faust, Can and so on. As I get older, I realise that one of the tricks of society is to rewrite history to fit the current climate and so it is with 'punk'. In America, punk is now associated with jocks, circle jerks and loutish sexism, [see Limp Bizkit et al and the antics of their 'fans'], and therefore couldnt be more removed from the truth. When Kurt Cobain used to big up The Slits and The Raincoats, he was celebrating an attitude impossible to Americans - girls rock, weird people rock, underground lefties rock, strange geeky people rock. He also was one of them, not the terrible media creation he is taken for today. As for McGeogh, his work with Lydon and PIL and others stands up. Let the music of all these wonderful maveriks do their talking.

Steve Severin Tribute
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