This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #438: Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges.
People are inspired by the music around them. Some are inspired to sing. Some are inspired to dance. Some are inspired to pick up an instrument and play. In most cases, that inspiration manifests itself in forms of flattery, as people often try their very best to be like their heroes. When this phenomenon happens, we call it following a trend. But, sometimes, the opposite thing happens. A person will feel that creative yearning swell within them and yet, when they look around for inspiration, they may end up not liking what they see. The same is true when someone comes up with a fresh, original idea and searches for validation but ends up not finding any from those in the current scene. As a result, you either give up your idea and conform to the norm or else, you trust your vision and chart your own course. When that happens, innovation occurs, leaders are born and new trends are established. Before Eminem and Cardi B., there came Run-DMC. Before Garth Brooks and Reba McIntyre, there was Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn. Before The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, there were Bo Diddly and Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Before Judas Priest and Metallica, there was Lemmy and Motorhead. And, finally, before there were The Sex Pistols, The Ramones or The Clash, there was Iggy and the Stooges.
Unfortunately, because I am not doing these posts in chronological order, when you listen to “Raw Power” by Iggy and the Stooges, it is going to seem like something you have heard many times before. And, you would be correct to feel that way. The Sex Pistols, The Clash and, even, Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” all draw inspiration from “Raw Power”‘s manic style of delivery, the energy with which the song is played and the rawness of the sound quality. But, make no mistake, “Raw Power” preceded them all and when it was released in 1973, it was quite unlike anything being played on radio or tv at the time.
“Iggy” from Iggy and the Stooges is none other than Iggy Pop. The Stooges consisted of guitarist, James Williamson and two brothers, Ron and Scott Asheton. The album, also called, “Raw Power” was produced by an up and coming figure on the UK music scene at the time, Mr. David Bowie. Initially, because the songs on “Raw Power” (the album) were so loud and raw, they were rejected by the record company. But, Iggy Pop and Bowie persevered and the album was released to rave reviews from music critics who recognized how fresh and innovative it was compared to anything else that was considered “chart-worthy” in the early 70s. This album is said to be the favourite of many important musicians who came along later, such as Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.
The song, itself, is not as noteworthy as the style in which it is played. The song, “Raw Power” is purportedly about the fact that sources claim that Iggy Pop was well-endowed and, therefore, that he could be counted on in the bedroom to perform with “Raw Power”. I don’t think I need to draw you a map. It is all fairly self-explanatory. But, as we all know, self-praise is no recommendation. Thus, the focus of your attention should sit squarely on the rapid-fire nature of the song’s construction and delivery. This album/song was the birthplace of Punk Music and of Speed Metal, too. Therefore, as was the case with those early Bluegrass pickers, those Blues players dealing with the Devil, those street corner rappers, “Raw Power” stands as one of the most influential albums of all-time. It started a new trend in music that continues to this day.
My favourite live concert experience EVER was seeing Iggy and The Stooges at The Warehouse in Toronto in 1998. They were there to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Raw Power” and to play the album in its entirety. It was so loud, the energy was so great and the crowd was so busy moshing and moving that it actually felt a bit dangerous. It was the most alive I have ever felt while listening to music. To be honest, the rawness of this song is not always my first choice of music but, sometimes, it is exactly what I need and want and, in those times, it is beyond awesome! I am so grateful to those who aren’t bound by convention and fearlessly follow their muse to where it leads. Sometimes, it leads to something new and exciting that changes the course of our Art and our Culture. Believe it or not, “Raw Power” did that, too. Sometimes a song about a man and his schlong can change the world. Enjoy.
The link to the music video for Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges can be found here.
Iggy and the Stooges have their own website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.
Thanks to KEXP for supporting original and innovative music, regardless of genre. A link to their terrific website can be found here.