“Look Away” (1996) by Iggy Pop

This rare ballad from Iggy Pop, from his 1996 album “Naughty Little Doggie,” is a profoundly sad song about Johnny Thunders, doomed lead guitarist for the New York Dolls and his own band The Heartbreakers, and their mutual girlfriend, the infamous 1970s groupie Sable Starr.  The lyrics are matter-of-fact, but melancholy and sad. It’s laced with the kind of regret only a long-term survivor of bad habits can describe.  Iggy is not taking blame for what befell Thunders and Starr, but importantly, doesn’t deny his complicity in some of the sad things that occurred in all of their lives. It’s just the bad s–t that happens when three people suffering from addiction interact with each other on occasion.  Still, I find this song incredibly moving.

“Now Thunder and me did not part friends
What we did once I wouldn’t do again
So he stayed with the pure dream and followed the moon
‘Til the drugs in his body made his mind a cartoon

Look away Look away

So a few years later Thunder died broke
Sable had a baby back at her folks
Me I went straight and serious too
There wasn’t much else that I could do

Look away Look away

So now that I’m straight I’m settled too
I eat and I sleep and I work like you
I got lots of feelings but I hold them down
That’s a way I cope with this s–tty town

Look away Look away”

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“Dirt” – Spider Heart

Just discovered this incredible new band today, Spider Heart from San Francisco.  They could best be described as a cross between early Wire, the Stooges, Jane’s Addiction, Black Sabbath, and the Nymphs.  But even that description falls far short.  There are few bands that can be described as true originals and Spider Heart is one of them.   Lead singer May Black has been described as a cross between Iggy Pop and Janis Joplin and damn if that’s not an accurate assessment.  Except I would also throw Inger Lorre, Courtney Love, and Darby Crash into that mix.  This is authentically dangerous and thrilling music and if you like what you hear, do yourself a favor and check out their awesome EP “Dirt” available on iTunes and Google Play.  And of course, you can also enjoy them on Dave’s Strange Radio!

“Repo Man” – Iggy Pop

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This theme song for Alex Cox’s demented 1984 punk rock science-fiction comedy was the first Iggy song I ever heard (aside from David Bowie’s cover of Iggy’s “China Girl”). I can only imagine what went through Iggy’s head when he wrote this, but I like it because it has very little to do with the movie it’s written for. The cool guitar work is courtesy of the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones. Favorite line: “I’ll turn you into a toadstool!”

“Louie Louie” – Iggy and the Stooges

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The most notorious live album of all-time “Metallic K.O.” was recorded 40 years years ago today. As a selling point back in the day, it was said you could hear beer bottles smashing against guitar strings. By this point, Iggy and the Stooges had worn out all of their good will and were drowning in a sea of heroin, booze, and “not playing nicely with others.” They were openly hostile with audiences and baiting them to beat the crap out of them …which often happened. Here’s the most infamous track from that legendary album. And, most importantly, Iggy is still alive to celebrate this milestone.

“T.V Eye” – The Stooges

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This was always my favorite track of the Stooges’ legendary out-of-control 1970 masterpiece “Fun House.” When I first heard it, it reminded me a lot of early 1970s Alice Cooper, only much heavier and darker.

I swear that this next story is true, but I heard this album for the first time on the night of my first actual “date.” I didn’t have my first date until I was 17, because I had braces on my teeth until that age and felt very self-conscious about them.  When I got them off, my self-esteem rose enough to the point where I felt like I could ask someone out.  Let’s forget the fact that I rocked a Ron Burgandy “Anchorman”-do back in the day (sans pornstar ‘stache), but for argument’s sake … without the braces, I started to feel like Warren Beatty. Anyway …  the girl I asked out said “yes” and I decided we’d go see a movie.   Considering my favorite movie at the time was “Blue Velvet,” I felt that anything resembling what I was actually into would send the wrong message.  I mean, God forbid, I should actually “be myself.”   So … I overcompensated by picking a Bette Midler-Shelley Long “buddy” film called “Outrageous Fortune.”   OK …  I swear I’m not a homosexual, but back in the day, I could do a really good impersonation of one without even trying.  Considering the fact that during that period I was impressed when goth girls said I looked like Morrissey, I’m sure you can predict that this potential “romance” was doomed … You can read more about that here:

https://davesstrangeworld.com/2013/02/17/everyday-is-like-sunday-morrissey/

Being nervous about my first date, I left the house incredibly early and killed time before I was supposed to show up at a local record store.  I had heard about The Stooges for years, but all of their stuff had been out of print in the U.S. for a long period of time.  So … when I saw a lone, dusty cassette of “Fun House” on the shelves, I immediately threw down by $7 and went back to the car.  I drove around for almost an hour locked into the sick, intense jams of “Fun House.”  Considering the fact that I was wearing my finest Cosby sweater and khakis, I felt that I was in the right mode to put on the charm.

Fortunately, I was wise enough NOT to play my new musical find after I picked my date up.  And … despite my best efforts … the date went pretty well.  My date ignored the film and made out with me.  But … she never returned my calls after that evening … leading to some confusion as I was not yet familiar with how these “date” things sometimes worked … but, as they say, that was that.

But the evening wasn’t a total loss.  I still crank “Fun House” at inopportune times almost 25 years later and still get sucked into the pure insanity of Iggy at his most demented.

“Dirt” – Neneh Cherry and the Thing

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Here’s Neneh’s wonderfully sleazy, avant-garde, and punk-jazz cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ nihilistic S&M masterpiece. This sounds like an outtake from Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” … only with Iggy’s passion, anger, and brain full of God-knows-what. Neneh has evolved into a cross between Nina Simone and Diamanda Galas. This is some seriously deep and scary s–t. If that’s not a cool f–kin’ concept, I don’t know what is!

“Nightclubbing” – Iggy Pop

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From the David Bowie produced 1977 album “The Idiot,” comes the stomping, quaalude-paced “Nightclubbing.” If there was ever an anthem for vampires, this would be it. You can definitely hear the influence on Goth music, yet “Nightclubbing” does the Goth thing so much better than what resulted later on.

The song was later covered by Grace Jones, whose version I’ve included below. While I like Pop’s original better, I do like Jones’s odd, stoner-funk cover. The song made also made an appearance in the 1996 Danny Boyle classic film “Trainspotting.”

“Someone I Care About” – The Modern Lovers

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Jonathan Richman and his band the Modern Lovers were a real anomaly in the early 1970s. Like many singer-songwriters of the era, Richman wrote very sensitive lyrics that wore his heart on his sleeve. But those lyrics were backed with some uncommonly abrasive music for the period (supplied by future Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and future Cars member David Robinson). In addition, Richman’s songs decried drugs and promiscuity at a time when no one had even thought of the term “straight edge,” let alone thought it was cool. When you add his unfashionably short hair and nasally vocals into the mix, he seemed like the guy who was begging for noogies and wedgies.

But despite his “uncool for the time” demeanor, Richman was as ballsy as Iggy Pop and Lou Reed (two artists Richman admired) and like Pop and Reed, seemed to invite abuse by his mere presence. “Someone I Care About” is Richman’s declaration about wanting a girl that he cares about, or he wants nothing at all. A marked contrast to many bands of the era promising to give women every inch of their love or wanting their women hot, sweet, and sticky. Richman may not be cool in the classic rock sense, but the perspective is refreshing and a lot more sane.  Produced by John Cale of the Velvet Underground.

“Basquiat” (1996) dir. Julian Schnabel

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One of the best films about an artist’s life I’ve ever seen, as well as being one of the coolest films I’ve ever seen about any subject, “Basquiat” is a biopic chronicling the fast times and short life of legendary 1980s postmodernist/neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat created some brilliant (and highly commercial) art and also ran with a lot of famous people (Andy Warhol, Madonna, Keith Haring) back in the day. However, personal demons and drug abuse wound up getting the better of him and Basquiat died of a heroin overdose in 1988.

Jeffrey Wright does a terrific job in the lead role as Basquiat and leads an all-star cast that includes David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Gary Oldman playing a character based on director/artist Julian Schnabel, Michael Wincott as critic Rene Ricard, Dennis Hopper as art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, and Christopher Walken, Courtney Love, Claire Forlani, Benicio Del Toro, Tatum O’Neal in supporting roles.

“Basquiat” also boasts one of the coolest soundtracks of any film, featuring the Pogues, Public Image Ltd., Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Charlie Parker, Melle Mel, the Modern Lovers, and Peggy Lee among others.

This was director Julian Schnabel’s directorial debut, a career that has led to great films such as “Before Night Falls,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and “Lou Reed’s Berlin.”