TGIFive Spot: Five Great Punk Songs About the Weekend
It’s the weekend, something music has provided the soundtrack for in many of our favorite weekends over the course of our lives.
But this time we wanted to focus on songs by musical acts that specifically refer to the magic that a weekend can bring.
While rather than rap and rock, we switch it up, to punk and funk.
This version of TGIFiveSpot is the PUNK edition.
If you haven’t already read the FUNK incarnation, click here.
Generation X-Friday’s Angels
Generation X, fronted on their second album by Billy Idol, which was also produced by Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter, are by most objective accounts at least one tier below the top of the food chain when it comes to punk rock’s explosive Class of ’77.
That being said, they still had some solid jams. This cut, with the riff that sounds nicked from Pete Townsend’s riff on The Who’s “Substitute”, utilizing an authentically well-worn, working-class “working for the weekend” trope, during a particularly broke period in London (as well as New York), definitely counts among them.
The Runaways-Saturday Night Special
Some punk purists may object to the legendary all-teenage-girl, Kim Fowley-sponsored/svengali'd, Sunset-Strip sleaze-rock of The Runaways being classified as “punk rock”. We do not care about those people, nor their silly rules that they came up with after the fact. There was not much more punk in 1976 than these five adolescent girls rocking Budokan. They possessed the youthful energy, swagger, rawness, danger and sexiness that accompanies most of the more transcendent rock & roll of any era.
"Saturday Night Special" is a weekend anthem for the “young and easily bored”, from their fourth & final album before the band split up. It was their second album without original lead singer Cherrie Currie, but it features some of rhythm guitarist Joan Jett and lead guitarist Lita Ford’s best interplay together, pushed up front where they both belonged all along, and would soon go on to prove in their subsequently successful solo careers.
The Ramones-Blitzkrieg Bop
Bomb, why is this song, which we know is a well-known punk classic, much like the band that made it, included? We don’t hear any mention of the weekend in it!
Well, we’ll tell you. Besides the whole “HEY! HO! LET’S GO!” bit being a fitting call-to-arms to get your weekend going, the late Joey Ramone explained that he got that hook from one of the biggest weekend-warrior pop songs ever, “Saturday Night”, by the decidedly non-punk Bay City Rollers, two years prior.
It’s the Ramones, so for those reasons, plus out of deference to their greatness, we provide this band a wide birth.
The Jam-Saturday’s Kids
Speaking of greatness, most Stateside music fans of a certain age know The Ramones, but some still sleep on the greatness that was The Jam. They shouldn’t. The Jam may not encapsulate the British punk scene as symbolically as the Sex Pistols, The Clash or even The Damned. But we’d be damned if they didn’t write and play more great songs than any of them over the course of their five-album run.
Paul Weller cranks out another classic here, with wonderful lyrics that leave just enough room for the imagination and your own interpretation. And Weller again manages to make something sound specifically British in detail, while still feeling wholly universal at the same time. That’s no easy feat.
It would be difficult to call Fishbone a punk band, much like it’s difficult to call Fishbone a ska band, or a funk band, or any other kind of genre adjective. It’s fairly clear that they like to play inside all of them. But when you go see a Fishbone show, as you may recall we told you about once or twice here in The Wudder, trust us you are gonna get a whole lot of punky with the funky.
We recommend the live version of this song, performed as the second song in their appearance on a Jeremy Irons-hosted 1991 episode of Saturday Night Live. The studio version above, features a video directed by Spike Lee, off of The Reality of My Surroundings, which was the first Fishbone album that I purchased on cassette, during my freshman year of high school.
That was a long time, plus a lot of sunless Saturdays, ago. While staring down the latest one on this very weekend, this song serves as a sobering reminder, that not all weekends turn out the way you planned, and that dark clouds can sometimes manage to invade both your physical and mental space.