We Lost The Punk Rock Wars, We Are Generation ClarksonIt’s that sinking feeling when you suddenly realise that your generation was not the raging bull revolutionary rush of punk rock, the year zero commandoes who changed the world with the best soundtrack ever, the spiky topped last uprising in pop culture, the cut and paste xeroxed post punk revolutionaries who wrote a new rule book.

Nope, it was none of those things.

It’s that dawning, crunching realisation that it was not the sex people or the idealistic last stand of the counter culture but, in reality, the tweed breathed, silent majority who now avidly watch boring programmes about cars…that’s right we were never generation punk but Generation Clarkson.
As I watched the jowel faced one turn up on TV at some arcane, dreaming of blood stained, fox hunt in Oxfordshire at the weekend, along with that other tweedy, ash breathed, plastecene skinned representative of my generation Nigel Farrage I sunk into despair.

It was at this moment that I realised that despite all our endeavours, idealism and hope that my generation was even more tweedy, cynical, selfish and downright hideous than any other generation that it thought it was rebelling against.

Farrage and Clarkson- they not only talk like some of the people I knew at school they also dress like they must do now- blokes dressed by their wives and cut price anti fashion chain stores that sneer at the male figure. I suddenly and momentarily felt old and alone and thought of all those pullovers tucked into piss stained, bad fitting trousers and equally piss stained, ill fitting views that were nicotine stained with cheap cynicism and the politics of greed and selfishness and wondered where all that idealism of youth had gone from my generation and realised that we had somehow ended up with Generation Clarkson that was even more filthy and greedy than ever before and that it was all the fault of pop culture.

Of course the memory plays mean tricks and documentaries bend the truth all out of shape. Those documentaries make my generation seem like a punk rock hoe down with lots of mohicans and Sex Pistols making lots of noise and endless hours about John Peel and Joy Division but if there was lots of great noise going on there was only about 25 of us listening to it. Everyone else was too busy becoming an even worse version of their parents and for every copy of Sniffing Glue that found its way round the country there was a million copies of the Daily Torygraph and for every raging debate on racism and sexism there was little England was still reigning triumphant with its curtain twitching politic view of the world and for every roots radical there was the silent majority of Generation Clarkson with their petrol head banter and tweed brained views on life.

The future is tweed…


Previous articleSparks play Kimono My House : London : Dec 2014 : live review
Next articleTHINK TANK! our man in Istanbul is not happy : Freedom of the Press is Finished in Turkey
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. This is Brother John having a blip. A rare moment of doubt and negativity after a years worth of positive, energetic, enthusiastic writing and gigging and doing the 100’s of things he does. His positivity and energy I find exhausting but inspiring. Allow him this rare moment of doubt and pessimism …normal service, I am sure, will be resumed shortly.

  2. Must disagree Brother G. This is Brother John shining the cold light of realism on the blip that was ‘punk rock’!! Let’s call it straight, Punk was all about Donkeys led by Lions…….Patrik Fitzgerald called it true on ‘Grubby Stories way back in ’79 ‘they make it safe’. For every ‘Image Has Cracked’ or ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ there’s a hundred lame, sub-metal tuneless albums made by bubblegum punksters!! Nae need tae be pessimistic though – the fight against the likes of Clarkson, Farage and the Torygraph is fought by us all everyday……The Punk Revolution is Dead – Long Live the Punk Revolution!!

    • Come on, punk was great as a force for personal and musical revolution but always a failure on a political level, at the latest when The Fall released ‘It’s the new thing!’ in 1978. For every revolution there’s a Napoleon round the corner waiting to ride the crest of the wave. Read The Rebel by Camus if you want a longer explanation, he does it much better than I can!

  3. Too many punks from our day John (circa 76) today sit in Facebook forums like Punks Reunited telling the world how bad things are now, how nothings changed like we tried to change back in the day and how the revolution they somehow started or took part in shook up the establishment.

    I was there like you and others too and it shook up nothing. Yes it gave the establishment a fright for a short while but some 39 years later we’re back to square one saying the same things and seeing the same old nonsense from our political parties, including the Labourious party.

    Old punks never die they simply go on reminiscing about the good old days that were actually, cack. Moaning about the apathetic youth of today who challenge nothing and that’s in between moaning about their health, watching Top Gear and Clarkson, arguing the same old arguments we had in 1980 about how Oi wasn’t really Punk, not to mention the same old diatribe of wasn’t Jimmy Pursey great at the recent old farts never die gig at the Fox and Frowned.

    Were all as bad as each other.

    Ever get the feeling we were all cheating ;-)

  4. Up the numbers to 26 please as I was taking notice but didn’t let on to anyone. Other than that – spot on !

    • …up to 27 – agree that there were not many of us involved in phase 1 Punk Rock (Pre uniform leather jackets and mohicans) but we still exist in ideas, actions, ideals, take no bullshit and a do it yourself attitude.

      Do not despair – keep the faith

  5. I have the feeling that this is not about how things worked back in the day, but how things somehow still don’t improve nowadays. It seems that mostly nobody gives a flying fuck about anything, every fart released somewhere in this world gets to be breaking news and time for a petition…

  6. Nah Clarkson and the Torygraph will NEVER speak for me while John Lydon is alive – they are throwbacks to our parents’ generation. The punk wars are still being fought – and the next battle, as the Newtown Neurotics once said, is to kick out the Tories.

  7. Purrrrrfect…. the cat is out of the bag! Ever got the feeling you’ve been cheated?
    John Lydon states (allegedly) that he went to parties at the Houses of Parliament, before the Sex Pistols/Punk was set in motion. So who had the original idea for it?
    Ah… could it be that the gnostic hippies had pushed the creation of nihilism and hedonism as far as it could go, and it was time to invent another “yoof” revolution, to push it further?
    So the suited men sat in a room and thought up “Punk”
    But how did they select the right young man to train up as its “authentic” spokesman? Because nobody could have done a better acting job than Lydon.
    The mystery is…. how did they find him?

  8. Punk is still with us! Look at how many women singers there are today compared to pre-punk days, that’s because Punk gave women equal billing.
    You can see elements of Punk in high street fashion, I always have a wry smile when I see young ‘uns born way after Punk with coloured hair , ripped jeans, boots, and mohair jumpers.
    Even on the football pitch, how many players have punkoid haircuts (yes, even mohicans)?
    Politically, you’ve really got to look beyond the main parties, there are a few ‘mavericks’ within parliament who were influenced by Punk, but look more locally at self- help groups and societies, formed at street level by people with common interests, giving mutual help and inspiration to it’s members.
    Punk is still there musically, not too much in it’s sound, but then who really wants to sound like 1977 forever? Go past the Cowell brigade, the pop puppets that obsequiously do as they are told, and you’ll find tons of bands and singers that started off in bedrooms and garages, with cheap instruments and software, able to record, mix, and produce themselves, and getting better with practice. They don’t need major label backing, so can do exactly what they want to do musically, because they have all the tools they need for promotion via the internet.
    You can’t get more Punk than that. Seriously, the world would be so much greyer today (and even tweedier) if Punk had’nt happened.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here