DIY video and punk rock

In 1977, I discovered Elvis Costello, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Talking Heads, the Ramones and Devo. I cut my hair and started buying all my closes at the Salvation Army. Me and four friends, formed what we called a band and made a lot of racket in our drummer’s garage. We were punks.

I think by 1978, there were eight punks in my high school.

Everybody else thought we were idiots. I heard all the time how our music sucked. The guitarists couldn’t play, the singers couldn’t sing and the songs were stupid.

In 1990, my class had it’s ten year reunion. The music the DJ played was not the music of my class. It wasn’t the Bee Gees and Journey and ELO. It was Costello, the Clash, the Talking Heads, the B52’s and Devo. Everybody danced. Nobody complained.

In the late 1970s, if you picked up a copy of Rolling Stone you were as likely to read a glowing article about the punk revolution as you were to read some grizzled old rocker complaining about how the punks only knew three chords. It wasn’t real music and it would never catch on. It would never be more popular than the Eagles or Jackson Browne.

Of course, about 15 years later, Nirvana would come along and become, for a short time, the biggest band in the world.

In the late 1970s, four lads from Dublin decided they wanted to be in a band. Only one of them, Dave Evans, had ever even played a musical instrument before. The first songs they played were those three-chord rippers of the Ramones. Eventually, of course, all four would all become accomplished musicians and master songwriters. Today, U2 is one of the biggest and greatest bands in history.

The DIY culture of punk transformed popular music and opened the door for countless musicians.

I see the same thing happening with the DIY culture of web video. The old guard doesn’t understand the devil-may-care punks, and the punks are full of bluster and cocky self assurance well beyond their actual abilities.

Meanwhile, videos like this, are among the most popular on the web.

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9 thoughts on “DIY video and punk rock

  1. HA … when I was pre-drafting this post in my head, I included that line. When I actually sat down to write it … I forgot it :-(

    I love that line.

    In fact, it’s a major reason when I bought my first really nice guitar, it was red.

  2. Hello. Your company just bought my newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star ( That means, barring another sale, you will be one of my new bosses. Will the fact I also like Elvis Costello help me keep my job? Or will I be in trouble because, unlike Mary Lou Montgomery, I “do dead deer,” and in bulk? Just curious. If you are, please visit:
    Thanks. So far I enjoy your blog.

  3. Jeff: Thanks.

    I don’t think I can really talk with you until the deal closes.

    I’ll tell you this: I’m friends with Chris Jennewein.

  4. I used to wear one of those cut off U2 War Tour shirts in high school. I have a collection of about 25 old U2 45s and remember seeing Bono break up a fight at the LA Sports Arena in 1984. Great times.

    Noveltown (my blog) is part of the DIY Independent Literary Press movement. The Indie/Commercial world of literature is intriguing to say the least. Yet we don’t mind supporting authors published by the mainstream. It’s not us vs. them as much as we don’t have to be them to support them… or to help build a community.

    DIY Hardcore punk scene… funny that I’m drafting up a blog that talks about the same kinds of metaphors… glad I stopped by here.

  5. howard great analogy – I am just in the middle of a piece on web video as the new graffiti. A lot of folks see banksy as a one-man punk revival.

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