Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic"/Why D.I.Y. Will Never Die

The Minutemen will always be one of my favorite bands, even just for Double Nickels on the Dime (1984), that classic postpunk double-album with 43 songs in an hour-plus. Apparently, the title was a response to the lame Sammy Hagar song "I Can't Drive 55." In Jim Doppke's words, "punk rokkers drive slow." D. Boon, the lead singer and guitarist, died tragically in a car accident at age 27. They provide the title of Michael Azzerad's book about postpunk and indie, "Our Band Could Be Your Life," a line from "History Lesson Pt. 2," which spells out the Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) ethos of the band--that we all are capable of making art our lives and our lives into art. That kind of Marxist production-side thinking D. inherited from his mom, and made a hell of a lot of people into artists, musicians and writers. So while critics like Brian Phillips in the recent Poetry Magazine are wringing their hands over the hand-wringing about poetry and its readership (who apparently lack taste), everyone who D. Boon inspired is in the bliss of art-making.


RazRocks said...

Great information here. The Minutemen were definitely one of the best bands in the 80's. I remember in the song "History Lesson Part II", D. Boon described their music as "scientist rock". I always thought that was great because it always seemed that the Minutemen never stayed in the same area of music. One minute they would be thrashing through a short punk-rock piece such as "Party with me Punker", the next they would be busting out solos in the song "The Red and the Black" and no one can forget the catchy, yet important tune "Corona". Also, they seemed to take jabs at then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, this can be evident in both "This Ain't No Picnic" and "If Reagan Played Disco". Lastly, commenting on the D.I.Y. work ethic that the Minutemen had, there is a documentary that came out last year entitled "We Jam Econo". The term "Econo" was used by band to show that they produced albums as cheaply as possible, and in the shortest amount of time. Great post Dr. Metres!

Philip Metres said...

Thanks, Raz, our conversation the other day about the real life event that inspired "This Ain't No Picnic"--about D. Boon's racist boss--brought another layer to the song, and how Boon transformed his life in his music.