MUSIC 162 - SPRING 2008
American Pop Song
The 1970s (II)
A. Punk and New Wave
Velvet Underground : "I'm Waiting for the Man"
Although the Velvet Underground never sold many records, their intentionally crude sound and
alienated lyrics influenced many important figures in the Punk/New Wave movement of the
1970s. Pop-artist Andy Warhol discovered the group in 1966 at the Cafe Bizarre in NYC, and
produced their first album (with a peelable picture of a banana on its cover). Guitarist/vocalist
Lou Reed and viola player John Cale, former students of classical music, were the key members.
Their style combined a loud, repetitive, minimalist sound -- deliberately designed to be
'uncommercial' -- with lyrics focused on alienation, sado-masochism, drug addiction, and
violence. "I'm Waiting for the Man" is a description of Reed's journey to Harlem to buy heroin
from a pusher.
The Ramones : "I Wanna Be Sedated"
The Ramones' quintessential punk sound -- simple, high-speed, energetic guitar chords without
solos -- influenced London punk groups and also became a blue print for L.A. hardcore bands.
Although they project a street-tough image, all are from middle class Queens families. Their
manager Danny Fields had previously worked with MC5, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Lou
Reed. The Ramones gained popularity playing at CBGB&OMFUG; (Country, Bluegrass, Blues
and Other Music for Urban Gourmets), a Bowery bar that was a center of the NYC alternative
music scene in the mid-1970s. They were one of the first of the CBGB bands to sign a record
contract, with the indie label Sire. The Ramones' 1976 tour of England inspired many London
Punk musicians. Their style was influenced by the Stooges, bubblegum music and surf music. "I
Wanna Be Sedated" is a parody of the Beach Boys' style.
Talking Heads : "Psycho Killer"
Talking Heads, formed in 1975 by design-school graduates David Byrne and Chris Frantz,
represents the more self-consciously "artsy" side of the New York new wave club scene. They
played their first shows at CBGB&OMFUG (Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for
Urban Gourmets), a Bowery bar that was a center of the N.Y. punk scene in the mid-1970s.