Iggy Pop © Paul Grace
Iggy Pop: Alive at 75 –  A celebration of the icon at his grand old age landmark birthday
Iggy Pop © Paul Grace

Iggy Pop: Alive at 75

by Alex Maiolo
 

Imagine it’s 1969, OK?

Or 1970 or something, all across the USA.
The 60s as we picture them are winding down. RIP, Beatles, and the Summer of Love didn’t quite pan out the way people I had hoped. The government is cracking skulls because they are not down with people asking for crazy stuff like ending an illegal war, the cessation of dirty CIA-related activity, addressing racism, or helping out poor citizens. It’s around the time of Altamont, and ugly drugs are coming on strong in the scene.

The Rock n’ Roll elite are drugging it up in each others’ mansions, dropping by in their Rolls Royces, while still making pithy statements about living together as one.

In Detroit – because it’s often Detroit where the revolution happens (see Techno less than 20 years later) – The MC5, are trying to figure out how they can really get into the trenches, to help their black brothers and sisters. At the same time, Iggy and The Stooges are developing their new role as framing the state of things with a darkly comedic eye.

Said bad drugs are definitely in the mix, but what the fans are seeing is punk rock in its nascency. Loud, straightforward power chords, repetitive riffs, and often simple lyrics about how S is completely F’ed. Nothing is sacred, and everything is a target for Iggy’s ire, as he assumes the self-appointed role as some sort of Psychopathic Court Jester. He acts this out as a straight up Id Machine. He wiggles his body like a snake and preens like an animal that’s about to eviscerate you, in stark contrast to the UK glam types. He jerks and moves like an ostrich, fitting given his birth surname, but is actually wise as an owl. This “idiot” goes on to inspire legions of punk bands, having pretty much invented the art form, but also artists like David Bowie, particularly the Berlin era, which along with the Kraut scene gave birth to New Wave. Pop and Bowie would go on to make incredible music together, living together somewhere at the intersection of “married couple” and “buddy movie,” simultaneously getting namechecked by Kraftwerk, who are not known for doing that kind of thing. As one of rock’s legendary wild men, people assumed the obituary was forthcoming, likely from some IV drug use mishap, but also, perhaps, from cutting himself open with broken glass during performance-induced ecstasy.

If I could stick a knife in my heart

Suicide right on stage

Would it be enough for your teenage lust

Would it help to ease the pain

Ease your brain?

And yet here we are, celebrating the natal anniversary of the three-quarters-of-a-century old James N. Osterberg. As with Keef, nobody saw that untimely life coming. The bookies would have taken your bet. Who knew this scoliosis-affected self-abuser was going to outlive people who lived much cleaner lives? Perhaps a Faustian contract is involved. Maybe he was born with superhuman genes, or it was the third act dedicated to fitness, but let’s just say it’s unlikely that I’ll be seen shirtless on the reg around the time of my golden anniversary, even after living a life of minimal vice.

The last time I saw Pop perform, at the HAVEN festival in Copenhagen, he was a strapping young buck of 70, and he gave it everything. Absolutely shamed bands half his age, pulling shapes, and never sitting still for the duration of the set, which was one jackhammer song after another. Even septuagenarians who are still touring have settled into their new roles as elder statespeople, but the same Iggy Pop, who once smeared peanut butter on his chest, while simultaneously inventing stage-diving, seems every bit as capable of repeating that in honor of the pivotal event’s 52nd anniversary.

While our own parents are rightfully enjoying their twilight years with a good book, and a daily nap, Iggy Pop is still hitting the road. I assume he actually will die on stage, one day, but I never dreamed it would be of natural causes.

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One foot in Chapel Hill, NC, one foot in Scandinavia. Owns a bike in Copenhagen which means the Ridder Af Dannebrog is likely forthcoming. Recording engineer, Psych Rock/'Gaze guitarist, purveyor of Moroderik Musik, and electronic warrior of TRIPLE X SNAXXX and Themes for Great Cities. Apparently pro bono if you don’t count the free drinks. Currently receiving mixed messages from various modular synths.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr.Pop- I know we all celebrate your accomplishments,wish we could have been a part of your crazy adventures&even your quiet times with blank pages frowning at you– I have felt that. But ,in all your life,& celebration ofit-as I said- the characters you know&knew- do you ever still cry for mr.Bowie/Jones?I revel in his great music&yours-but I still find myself in tears sometimes,that the things you did,&he did,we will never see the likes of again.i was a tyke while you both traveled&performed-you still shaped my life. Tears streaming even as I write this.i wish we could keep all of you,forever.ill always remember where I was when lou&David passed us by to return to their stars,flawed but too good for this world.&are you scared,or do you think you’ll all be reunited?because I know,at risk of sounding grim I will know where I was when- not too grim eh? Oh say hi to Ian Curtis for me

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