New Exhibit Explores New York’s ’70s Punk and New Wave Scenes

August 18th, 2009 by Alex Vadukul Leave a reply »

Photograph by Stephanie Chernikowsk. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

In 1975 New York was bankrupt. President Gerald Ford famously told the city to “drop dead” when asked for federal financial assistance. But as the rest of the country predicted the Big Apple’s demise, a fervent musical revolution was taking place in the city’s squalid downtown nightclubs, studios and galleries. Artists and musicians were producing raw work that exhibited their anger and frustration, and the results came to define the “New York Scene” of the 1970s and early ’80s.

That scene is the topic of Looking at Music: Side 2, an exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art through November 30th that closely documents this period and the music that emerged with it — punk, DIY, new wave and noise rock. One of the first pieces on display is a recording of Patti Smith’s “Piss Factory” (1974), a rebellious poem-like rap about escaping the drudgery of small town life and factory work that sets the tone for the rest of the ride: “I am nobody’s million dollar baby. I am nobody’s patsy,” she spits. “I’m gonna get on that train and go to New York City. I’m gonna be somebody. I’m gonna be so big and I’m never gonna return to that piss factory. Watch me.”

Original LPs of some of the most important albums and singles of the time also make the cut: Television’s Marquee Moon (1975), Blondie’s Parallel Lines (1978), Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex (1983), the Talking Heads’ Take Me to the River (1978), Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation (1977), and the Ramones’ Rocket to Russia (1977).

The Voidoids’ Blank Generation became an anthem for the times, proclaiming restlessness and freedom, and on the ...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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