Top 10 punk love songs.
Love was not really a topic broached that often by punk.
If it all!
That most awkward of subjects, love, was mostly off the agenda in the speed driven years of the glorious revolution etc.
But fear not! There were moments when it popped its head above the ramparts and that emotional stuff was discussed in song with various levels of sophistication.
1. Buzzcocks ‘What Do I Get’
Easily the greatest writers of the punk rock love song and perhaps some of the greatest love songs of all time, Buzzcocks twisted every nuance out of the word love and made the simple trick of the pop love song into these perfect vignettes full of double meaning and complexities…pure genius like on this song of a jilted lover.
2. The Damned ‘Love Song’
Of course it was oikish and it was never a straight love song and more of a piss take of the form but sung with such a debonair gusto by lead vampire Dave Vanian that it almost becomes a love song by default.
3. Sex Pistols Bodies
This is the archetype punk love song. A song of filth, degradation and very dark matters. The fact that the Pauline in the song actually existed makes it an even darker four minutes of filth from a band who actually seemed like young innocents shocked and disgusted with the world instead of reveling in its dark nature as their myth portrays. An establishment that was calling them antichrists was far more filthy and disgusting than they could even imagine at the time.
4. The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’
As complex as you want, the band’s biggest hit and still a mainstream radio 2 staple certainly sounds like a quaint love song but what it it about? Is it about the intoxicating nature of love itself? it certainly sounds romantic, a Byronesque paean to the fragrance of feeling it sounds deep and intoxicating like love itself or is it about heroin addiction? So many meanings so many truths.
5. The Clash ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’
A classic rock n roll love song and one of the few straight love songs in the Clash canyon. The band we too busy trying to change the world and oddly for a group so steeped in romanticism they had few songs of love and and more songs of fury but then that was the times, a time of heavy manners and other business.
6. The Ramones ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’
Heart breaking. Joey Ramone always had the heartbreak voice of a singer who sang with tears in his eyes, the Ramones were the easiest band in the world to copy thats why they set the punk template hut the one bit no one could ever copy was Joeys voice- one of the perfect pop voices and here in the middle of Dee Dee Ramones bubblegum war fantasies and manic vignettes of madness Joey writes one of his songs of pure love and he means every damn word.
7. Johnny Thunders ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’
Thunders. Is one of tock n roll great tragedies..his whole epitaph is too much junkie business but he too was steeped in rock n roll romanticism and when he turned his mind to the real beau beyond the druggy mire he could write a real knock out love song like on this one of the great love songs a wistful song of loss and desire.
8. Stiff Little Fingers Barbed Wire Love
Poignant love song from across the barricades as the Stiff Little Fingers sang of love across the divide in their then divided home town of Belfast full of the imagery of the times without ever getting too heavy handed and delivered with Jake Burns great raucous voice.
9. Wire ‘A feeling Called Love’
If that sounds like an academic discussion of an abstract feeling called love then it probably is but then that was the beauty of Wire- they could do the dry academic stuff but somehow also infused it with a passion that was at odds with their college professor image.
10. Sid Vicious ‘My Way’
Of course the song was chosen for him, Sid was never going to actually write stuff and was already a wind up and go puppet of his management but then that never stopped Elvis being brilliant did it? What Sid did instinctively was take this standard love song and tun it inside out, sometimes veering a tad too close to a parody of his former chum Johnny Rotten but when he finds himself in there he sings a song of defiance a song of fuck you I’ve found my love even if it takes me to ten grave and there is something powerfully romantic in that Dionysian decent into hell paying the price of dumb love.