Happy Birthday today to one of rock and roll’s true blue hard edged, hard nosed mofos, a man who needs no introduction but I’ll give him one anyway – one who doesn’t play it by anyone’s rules, never has and never will, a singer who took the blues influences before him and smashed it over his head, and then licked the metaphoric blood droplets it caused, creating his own personal revolution of aural sounds which were crystallized like the very last ingredients in a homemade bottle of moonshine with cocaine in its ether, the one and only, and only one, Iggy Pop.
Incredibly, it’s the man’s 66th birthday today, and like one of his influences, Mick Jagger, has also spit in the face of Father Time, drove a steamroller over his back, and still chugs his way up the musical mountain range with one hand tied behind his back while hopping up it. With his muscular yet still rail thin, nary an ounce of fat on it frame, and his vocals, which can snarl at you like vipers coming out of a mother’s bosom, or can swoon with the same hidden thunder by way of a Frank Sinatra, and then can mid-range itself like the posturings of Lizard King Jim Morrison, the art and life of Iggy Pop has blurred, remains blurred, wants to be blurred. He seems to live on an edge of an edge of an envelope that continuously cuts him in perpetuity, his work with The Stooges continues to inspire the glorious filthiest of the filthy sounds that birthed punk and the like sounds that at once intimidate, luxuriate, and fascinate at every turn and clip when it violently bleeds its way out of the speakers.
By all accounts, the man is a survivor of the truest sense. He’s gone through so many chameleonic twists and turns in his career, so many scrapes of walking barefoot on a tightrope made out of shards of glass that by all accounts, he should be dead and buried with the many heroes he’s outlived who either were his influence or ones who he influenced. But thankfully and incredibly, the man chugs on, the last remnant of a bygone late 1960s-early 1970s era when people of his stripe were poking big fuck you middle fingers that were like pinpricks through the hippie freak flags and docile “Come on People, Smile on your Brother, Everybody Get Together Right Now” mantras chanted by people of his age and of various creeds and attitudes.
Pop and many of his kind shared a certain stance; they knew that life during that time, especially as people who were just creeping out of the teenage hole, in a Nixonian-Vietnam era, which was filled with uncertainty, disillusionment, and dread, was one big sham, one big hyperbolic ruse. He and The Stooges shot big holes in the American Dream, not in a negative sense, but a realistic one, and through the help of narcotics, soft and otherwise, they trudged their way through a world musically where they not only told it like it was, but did it in a take it or leave it manner. The only questions you could ask of it certainly wasn’t theirs, they just snapped their tunes at you, vicious jaws of sound and didn’t give a flying fuck whether you got anything from it. It was unapologetic and rawness at its absolute musical apex. And Iggy Pop writhed, contorted, and jaw droppingly rocked and rolled all over it.
It wasn’t just his singing, or his lyrics, which were sometimes so banal yet infused with a charm that only he could get away with, it was the attitude, the ENERGY – he could out dance, strut, posture, and manifest the best of them, and that would pretty much mean all of them, and he, like a Jim Morrison, like an Elvis, like a Mick Jagger, like even a Frank Sinatra, set certain guidelines and body and soul prints that masses of musicians would follow and slip themselves into. It can arguably be said that most of the entire first wave of the New York City punk movement which started in the early 1970s can be attributed to The Stooges and especially the front man in-your-face while twisting your heart presence of Iggy.
And it still goes on. Decades after the original band broke up and during decades of a solo career that had roads that stopped at grandly elegant and majestic musical places and dime store low rent ghettos, he’s still asking to be everyone’s dog, still waxing about 1970, still telling you how loose he is, still taking our breath away with his TV Eye, as The Stooges still thunder on, with a new album entitled Ready To Die which is set to be released on April 30. But Iggy doesn’t seem ever poised to be ready to die or perish; he’s like a cat who has already exceeded the nine lives, there’s no need to take prisoners or have a what the fuck attitude, he’s already been there, done that, he’s running on vapor trails now that are of the most incredible exhaust and fumes that come out of his chrome soul. After all, he knows how to use the technology.
So Happy Birthday today to Iggy Pop, the man who has searched, destroyed, taken all of the danger he can handle, and keeps blasting the musical world in the face with the biggest Metallic K.O. time and time again. The fact that he still stands in the ring, still dancing on its canvas like Muhammad Ali in his prime, ready to fight another musical fight, and still show the world that he can still trump it all, fuck all and come out on top as he inches ever closer towards seventy, is in itself the wonder to behold. Anything else is just a bonus for a planet that’s still in turmoil, more than it was when the man started. Old man time, calling from the Funhouse. After all these decades, the frayed nerve of that raw power still sounds as strong and urgent as ever.