Folk Hero John Lydon
Featured Artist: John Lydon
Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd, Solo
By Walter Price
I love putting quotes at the top of these pages to spice up the coming words. But recently, as I’ve tried to start this article several times John Lydon has made it extremely difficult to pin just one train of thought down.
No doubt you’ve seen the (or read about) the interviews that the former cantankerous for cranky sake punk rock icon, pitchman and TV show participant has been utilizing to town cry his new book Anger Is An Energy (Simon & Schuster). They’re stimulating to say the least.
And I say ‘formerly’ but we all know he still has it in him. It really has to do with his delivery and a sense of humor that is based in honesty and not giving a poo been there done that style.
Anyway, the most famous of these interviews being the Jon Snow one and then the headline grabbing bit he did with Polly Toynbee. The one were he declares things about Russell Brand and his stance on politics saying, “The likes of Russell Brand coming along and saying something so damn ignorant is just spoonfeeding it to them” – them, the powerful. “A hundred years ago who could vote here? To have that so easily, so flippantly ignored in that lazy-arsed way, in that ‘I take drugs and tell not very funny jokes’ way, it’s very poor. You have to vote, you have to make a change. You’re given lousy options, yes, but better than nothing at all.”
Good enough, glad Toynbee agrees with Lydon. Both of them have parked on the wrong part of Brand’s conversation about it all. So be it. Politics are a tricky work. Plus, in doing so the article went like hell fire around the globe. You know, like politics, The Guardian are in it for the money and sensationalizing anything gets the tongues a waggin’.
Anyhoo, there has been one journalistic work involving Mr. Rotten and his thoughts and experiences that causes me to think John Lydon might just be a new folk hero. Not Folk Rock Hero…that is something different. But that would be one for history if he went that way all of a sudden. Let your imagination explode…
A person whom the world can trust in. A person for whom can deliver experienced laced advice. A go-to person of wisdom that dig deep and doesn’t waste time fluffing for the nutters.
In his interview with The Telegraph’s John Wright Lydon bluntly tells his tales about moneys and subsequent goods and bads, views on charity, Simon Ritchie, Malcolm McLaren, people should spend money on him and of course, butter.
By the time the Sex Pistols had imploded, Rotten had started up and been into P.i.L for years and Sid Viscous and lady pal Nancy Spungen were dead. Just like the true punk era was. The 80’s had taken everything cool about the movement and sorta bastardized it for monetary purposes. There were still bands living the disconnected dream but the true hard to swallow flavor was being washed away. Opening the gates for hair bands, alt rock, electro craziness and later pop-punk. Ahhh yeah, pop-punk, the nicey nice sounds of garage bands being silly and non-abrasive. Hey wait, that isn’t punk rock at all…have you ever felt swindled.
In the article Lydon delivers answers in true man of been around a while style that is clear and touching. I didn’t know Lydon didn’t hate, if you will, Svengali McLaren, “I don’t think Malcolm was ever corrupt in that way in the Pistols. I think he just didn’t know any better, was into self-aggrandisement and was prepared to spend our money on rock and roll swindles. It was showbiz out of control with him and when it came to commitment he wouldn’t be there. That’s why I’m still here.” No disdain in Lydon’s answer but matured sympathy.
It is always fascinating to hear a person who has built or started out anti- this and that to talk about money matters. But like all of us, once you’ve grown out of your rebellious and youthful haze (mostly), you realize that without money you are just without.
Talking about regretful spending Lydon explains, “No, I’m really careful about that and so is my missus, Nora. We just don’t believe in forking out a big amount for anything. Nora [a German publishing heiress] had the consequences of the war in Germany like we did in Britain.
“You’d think Brussels sprouts at the weekend was luxury, and that’ll never go away. But I do love it when the record company buy me caviar and pump me with Lafite Rothschild.” Yeah those tiny little cabbages are the cats meow.
Over the years it has been no mystery that Johnny Rotten has fought for his music rights, taken the Sex Pistols out on money earning tours. Why not, it is his as any of the other players in the band rights to have what is theirs and make sure they are the ones being paid. That is capitalism and even the hardest of the outspoken rockers knows at the end of the day you gotta get paid or someone else will.
On his butter adverts and the alleged softy perception of the work he said, “But that’s incredible anarchy really, “Johnny Rotten does Butter”. But they gave me the opportunity to run into a field with cows and make fun, and the end result was that British dairy products increased sales by 87pc.”
And this bit here about his childhood money making schemes resonated with me. Being I grew up working at a very young age so I could hit K-Mart for worthless trinkets and discount records, “Paper rounds. I always liked doing jobs. At age five I wanted money to buy music. Mum and Dad bought records and I wanted my own too. I’d clean for Aunty Agnes; she’d give me 10 shillings, an outrageous amount. My favourite job (at 10) my dad got for me. I ran a minicab office. Everybody would know I was Johnny Lydon’s son and say, “You were the ill one, weren’t you.” “That’s right,” I’d say. “Was that 10.30am or pm?”
All in all, a great article. You should check it out HERE. Johnny goes on about celebrity, shells out investment advices, video games, the taxman and his thoughts on charity. But what brings the sincerity into focus is the short video at the top of the page showcasing a few of Wright’s Q’s and Johnny’s A’s. Puffing a smokerstick at a table while the camera records. You can feel the earnest voice of a man that has been around. A fellow who doesn’t need (but secretly wants) love and admiration. He has lived and experienced and still is the only way he knows how.
So perhaps like Henry Rollins Mr. Lydon could hit the speaking circuit and dispatch knowledge to the younger (and older) knuckleheads out and about who think they know it all but really haven’t a clue…So yes, as the former Johnny Rotten heads into his sixties, just maybe a new career as John Lydon Folk Hero is on the horizon. Until he says something aggressive and causes the media peoples to panic, again….