“Pull My Strings” – The Dead Kennedys

“Pull My Strings” was only performed once by the Dead Kennedys and it was basically a prank they pulled when they were asked to perform at the 1980 Bay Area Music Awards (the “Bammies”). They started out playing their underground hit “California Uber Alles” wearing white button down shirts with “S”‘s on them. They suddenly stopped playing and announced “We’ve got to prove we’re adults here … We’re not a punk rock band, we’re a New Wave band!” and then pulled skinny ties around from the back so the “S”‘s became dollar signs. The skinny ties and white button down shirts were a direct knock on the Knack, who were then considered the most popular of all the New Wave bands. Anyway, the band launched into “Pull My Strings,” a song that critiqued the current state of rock at the time and was specifically directed at all the luminaries at the gathering. According to legend, Boz Scaggs was allegedly seen clawing his seat in anger. On the other hand, Eddie Money apparently told the Kennedys he liked it. In any case, it’s a funny and ingenious way to take the piss out of a group of fevered egos gathered together to pat themselves on the back. The song eventually appeared on the Kennedys’ compilation “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.” At some point in the late 2000s, “Death” went Gold, meaning it had sold 500,000 copies, a remarkable achievement for a hardcore punk band from the early 1980s.

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