When you hear what Iggy Pop told CBC in 1977, it's no wonder he's still rocking today
Iggy on his art: "This is serious business to me, do you understand?"
He's said it could be his last album ever, and it's set to arrive next week. On March 18, Iggy Pop's Post Pop Depression arrives — a new collaboration with members of Queens of the Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys — and earlier this winter CBC Radio's q had the living legend in their studio to tell them all about it. Watch for that interview in the days ahead, but on this day in 1977 Pop was on another CBC program, Peter Gzowski's 90 Minutes Live.
If things had gone the way they were planned, we'd be sharing a CBC Digital Archives clip of Iggy Pop and David Bowie blowing the pre-MuchMusic minds of a Toronto studio audience. Both of them were on tour for Pop's current album, The Idiot, and they played Toronto's Seneca Field House just a few days later. But a union SNAFU meant the kids at home wouldn't be getting a preview of the show on CBC that night. They'd have to settle for an Iggy Pop interview instead — one that spawned some of the most famous quotes of his career. So notable, in fact, that this entire rant was sampled in a 1999 track by Mogwai, "Punk Rock."
"I'll tell you about punk rock," Pop begins, interrupting Gzowski's lead question.
"Punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and heartless manipulators, about music that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds, of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it's a — it's a term that's based on contempt; it's a term that's based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism, and, everything that's rotten about rock 'n' roll. I don't know Johnny Rotten, but I'm sure, I'm sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did."
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"What sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise is in fact the brilliant music of a genius. Myself."
"And that music is so powerful, that it's quite beyond my control. And, ah when I'm in the grips of it, I don't feel pleasure and I don't feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I'm talking about?" Pop says to applause from the audience.
"Have you ever, have you ever felt like that? When you just, when you just, you couldn't feel anything, and you didn't want to either. You know, like that? Do you understand what I'm saying, sir?"
It's thirty-nine years later, and Pop is now 68. To preview their upcoming interview, q shared a clip from their conversation with Pop, asking the rock 'n' roll hall of famer if he predicted he would still be making music in 2016.
His answer: "Yeah, absolutely." And he goes on to tell q what he felt when he started his first band as a high-school kid in Michigan. Music, he tells q, "was seductive, and it was also a challenge. You begin to realize the infinite challenge of possibility being able to create something really good, and make it realized, and the thrills that go with that."
As confrontational as the infamous 1977 interview can seem, Pop ends the appearance on a thoughtful note. And when you watch what he has to say, it's no surprise that he's as passionate about his music now as then.
"This is serious business to me, do you understand? It's very serious. I feel very strongly about what I do. And it's not all that good. I'm not that great, you know, really. … I've worked very hard for a very long time to try and make something that's beautiful enough so that I can enjoy it and so other people can enjoy it," he says. "And I will continue working at it because I haven't nearly achieved it yet."
For more throwbacks like this one, visit the CBC Digital Archives.