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Kevin Johnsen

Professor Lee Patterson


English 2135-0011
17 September 2015
Genre Analysis Essay
Thrashing the strings of a guitar, spewing rebellious slurs and a lack of individuality, all
together becomes punk rock. Punk music, is an allegedly primitive style of music played
primarily with bass and electric guitars. Punks initial foundations began to appear in the 1960's
continuing on to form the basis of what is now known as punk rock in the late 70's. Punk rock,
is a genre defined by its abundance of rebellious messages and drive for anarchy. By analyzing
the rise of bands who formed the groundwork for the genre punk rock, including the Ramones
and Sex Pistols and those prior to them and comparing said bands to the historical and social
contexts of the 1960's-1980's the bands effect and significance can be observed.
Prior to The Ramones rise in the United States, the bands that played their style of
music began in the 1960s, which included MC5 and New York Dolls. The emergence of
these bands in the United States revealed the point at which the youth began to test the
boundaries of social norms. These bands were formed in urban settings such as New York, and
Detroit. MC5 represented a youthful group who were politically influenced by Marxism and
groups such as the Black Panthers. The band MC5 went so far as to begin playing during
protests of the Vietnam war in 1968. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was later broken
apart by police, though the band had played eight hours straight. Their actions clearly display
how punk rock became known for being extremely vocal about their opinions on politics and
social events. While the New York Dolls was supported by the transvestite community, the
band would therefore shake the gender roles of New York as they would dress with the clothes of

the opposite sex. Hence both bands had found their own way to defy social standards and
promote their own ideologies. These bands led the pathway for what became known as Garage
Rock, and later known formally as punk rock.
Still punk rock's movement throughout the United States and Great Britain cannot be
shown without first introducing the Ramones, one of the initial bands to tie together all the
characteristics that punk rock is known for. While many bands were known to have prior aspects
of Punk in their songs, the Ramones were the first to tie them all together. Their primary
attributes that influenced their public in New York were physical and were based on their
apparel, from long unkempt hair to wearing leather jackets and torn jeans. Yet another influential
piece was the bands music, while the majority of their songs were not directly for anarchism and
the fall of government, they did utilize social taboos in their songs, yet again demonstrating how
punk rock tested the boundaries of society and politics.

One of their most notable songs was Blitzkrieg Bop, the song has different interpretations from
some stating that the song was a reference to the Nazi Germany's attack style otherwise know as
the Lightning strike. Blitzkrieg, a fast paced song, became quite influential all the while being
viewed as inappropriate, due to remarks such as Shootem in the back now. The remarks in the
song were thought to be referring to citizens being killed during World War II by the Nazi's.
Nevertheless, the song rose to fame and became known as the anthem for punk rock, showing
that punk rock had begun to take hold in urban communities throughout the United States. The
song also strengthened the genres ability to test social norms and critique political actions as it
was a common piece in the foundation of punk rock. Another analysis has stated of the song was
that Blitzkrieg Bop actually refereed to teenage sex in a car, this came about through the lyrics

The kids are losing their minds and They're piling in the back seat clearly shocking the
community in light of the blatant references to erotic ideas. Once again the references appalled
music producers and audience members alike.

Another instance in which a song of the Ramones dismayed politicians and the public, was the
song Bonzo goes to Bitburg. The song was an indisputable reference and ridicule of Ronald
Reagan, for his visit to a Nazi cemetery. Unlike the majority of their later songs, this had direct
references to political figures, such as the songs name referencing Bonzo, the chimp that Reagan
had worked with in the past. Clearly no other form of music would be able to support such
statements against a highly respected political figure even if the public was firmly against his
actions. Still, due to punk rocks background no one had been surprised by the songs emergence.
Joey Ramone being of Jewish descent was outraged, and gladly wrote the song, though the song
itself caused a large dispute in the band. The effect was similar in the United States, on one side
stood Joey Ramone who was clearly opposed to the actions of President Raegan, while Johnny
Ramone was a firm supporter of Raegan and defended his actions. While this dispute occurred
the band had composed the song, and the argument itself became a significant milestone. The
actions taken by the Ramones demonstrated the effect that punk rock has had in history, and
the clashing within the group signified what occurred within the American public as the situation
began to drag out.
The Ramones brought the use of social conflicts to ridicule not only society
but past groups that were prominent in history. The Ramones frequently had inter
group conflicts which led to the creation of the song The KKK Took My Baby Away.
While the song was used to ridicule Johnny Ramone for supposedly stealing the

girlfriend of Joey Ramone it brings light to the hatred that society had pent up.
Johnny was the only politically conservative member of the group, which lead Joey
out of anger and frustration to make the exaggerated comparison of conservatism
to the white supremacist group called the Klu Klux Klan. While the song was
supposedly meant to be a jab, it brought about discomfort within the community as
it was their hidden shame that such a group existed in the United States. The ability
of punk rock to test such unthinkable topics was a defining aspect of the genre,
allowing it to gain fame and spread like wild fire due to the ability of its members
to speak their minds. Lastly the song that broke all boundaries in the 1970s was the
song called 53rd and 3rd, the song itself was noted as highly unorthodox at the
time. 53rd and 3rd recounted the time of a Vietnam veteran returning home and
becoming a male prostitute. In the song the veteran acted as a prostitute and
proceeded to kill a man who took interest in him, proving that Im no sissy. The
song put a spotlight on the negative views the Country had of the gay community,
and how dishonored soldiers were after the Vietnam War. The song therefore
discussed the obvious tensions occurring in society, again pushing the limits to
extents no other genre or sub-genre of music could. All in all the actions of the
predecessors of the Ramones, including MC5 and New York Dolls laid the
ground work for the radical new genre of music, which became formally defined by
the Ramones. The genre of punk rock again spread, though at this point due to
the efforts of the Ramones to spread its appeal.
Due to their countless tours a band in Great Britain named Sex Pistols shook the
England with their own radical anarchist ideologies which were expressed in their
music.

Bibliography:
http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/08f04.html
http://liberteworld.com/2009/08/26/the-phenomenon-of-popularity-of-sex-pistols/
http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1621
http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?lyrics=8358