244 words on punk rock from David Bowie

by Charles Shaar Murray / NME

1977

You must find it interesting seeing elements of inputs you made five years ago coming back at you filtered through various other things?

(Thinks: “Let’s introduce the subject of punk rock in a sneaky, subtle way… “)

(Thinks: “He must mean punk rock”) I don’t get that feedback. It’s not apparent to me. It’s made apparent when I come to London for a few days, but not as marked as it would be if I lived in this city. Most of the time when I’m not working I’ve been travelling in quite obscure countries.

And you come back here and find out about Johnny Rotten et al.

Right then! PUNK ROCK!!

It’s therefore unreasonable to expect you to have a neat, tidy, ready-made statement about punk rock.

Oh yes, I do. Of course I do!

Okay then… neat ready-made statement about punk rock.

I think it’s a crying shame that the category has dissipated its importance. What it is is a lot of very individual people doing very individual things, and I also think it’s a shame that the guys who are being called this and put into that category are so willing to accept themselves being put in that category. I think that they are blinkering themselves – possibly crippling their writing – and will eventually… I know what will happen to them, because it happened to me. They’ll lose their enthusiasm for the very things that they held sacred when they started, and they won’t expand as far as excitingly as they would wish to if they allow themselves to be branded now with a category. Already, while they’re still wet behind the ears, they’ve been branded. I can’t stand sets of people in any way, shape or form; politically, artistically or socially, a set of people has the most devastating effect on one’s chances of producing anything.

You’ve been through – and played – enough elitist games yourself in the past.

Absolutely! So am I talking (adopts crusty middle-aged voice) from thirty years experience. That’s easily the worst thing about it.

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