Feeling Lucky, Punk?

Feature photo by me

After some admittedly minimal research plus a fervor to know more about this topic in general, I have chosen to look at how the punk revolution began and how the Vietnam War began to influence it. I have such a deep love for music and have studied it for the past ten years of my life, I want to understand the cultural/societal impact music has on each generation. Knowing all of this I understand that music genres progress and evolve over-time, that is a guarantee. (Could you imagine Bach listening to Electric Dance Music for the first time? He would be horrified). But the one genre that always stood out to me was Punk Music. One could observe the growing progression of blues music into traditional country music, then once adding electric guitars you would receive the vocals of Bob Dylan and CCR. Even the synthesizers used by the Doors can be seen in disco music of the 1970s and 1980s; but then there’s punk. Here comes this anti-popular culture, culture that includes Nazi symbols and thrashing guitars; it’s barbaric and weird and so fascinating.

The artifact that I am tentatively going to research is a blatant anti-war song by the British band, the U.K. Subs, called “Warhead”. This song was released in 1980, just five years after the Vietnam War ended; thus, somewhat, ending the Cold War as well. The simplistic lyrics of the song convey a simple yet aggressive message: the world is all-consumed with war and we are constantly living with a gun to our heads. This sentiment is very blunt, however, it could be just what society needed at the moment. Some of the lyrics include “While the heads of state are having their fun/ Are they ready?/We’re looking at the world through the barrel of a gun/ Are we ready?/ And you stand there beating on your little war drum/ Are you ready?/ And it won’t be long before your time has come/ Are you ready?”. Very repetitive but the overall message is clear: are humans incapable of changing their ways towards non violence, or are we constantly going to be ready for battle? If one took a cynical approach to the Cold War, it really was a war based off of the fear of an idea: communism. America feared communism like that plague and literally killed off their men to fight against this idea.

some new questions are: how could punk music actually change the society they were trying to revolt against? Was it all about change or simple rebellion for teenagers?


Cat. No: GEMS 23 (PB9512)
Label: GEM Records
Recorded: 1980


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