Funny to consider that I was rumored to be one of four graduates of UC Santa Cruz in the 70s who didn’t do drugs or even smoke grass, yet I saw these guys at least a dozen times in 3 years. I’ll never forget the first time hearing “White Punks on Dope” live; the excitement as it rose to its finale, with the Stanford Marching Band on stage even, a woman on trapeze swinging through the air overhead, Fee Waybill with his foot-high platform shoes. It was so… real. Never before or since had I seen an audience get into it so heavily.
It was the age of sex & drugs & rock & roll, although only the rock & roll applied to me. I guess, since I remember the 70s, I really wasn’t part of it. That’s what they say anyway, but I don’t think that’s true. And how would they know anyway?
I rarely play The Tubes anymore; for that matter, I don’t listen to music in general nearly as much as I ought to. I say that because, whenever I do actually “listen” to music, I really enjoy it. What is it that’s so compelling about TV that you’re worried if you don’t have it on, you’re missing something? Heck, The Tubes even had a song for that- “TV is King.”
I wish I had the girl with the bouncy hair
We’d ride off in a brand new car
Or fly a plane somewhere
Like probably Jamaica
I brush my teeth, shampoo my hair, and shave my face
Apply the necessary aerosol
In the appropriate place
And we’ll spend the night together watching television
Don’t really know why–television
TV is king
You’re my everything
Isn’t that the dream? Amazing how little has changed since 1979, when their “Remote Control” album came out. The Tubes arguably invented “punk” rock, and even penned a song a few years later exclaiming “I was a punk before you.” And they were. But in a stylized, artistic & sarcastic manner that appealed on an intellectual level.
The Tubes fit into a special box all their own and didn’t really mesh with my general preference for Progressive English Rock, other than arguably pretentious, overly-intellectualized lyrics. The Tubes were all about making fun of the audience, and themselves.
King Crimson, Procol Harum, early Genesis, Renaissance, Caravan, not the usual stuff people listened to back then. I used to go to a record store in Los Gatos, The Galactic Zoo, to get the import versions of albums because they were supposed to be pressed better and came out two weeks earlier than the US-manufactured records. Musically these groups were much better than The Tubes. But, nothing quite packs the punch of White Punks on Dope.