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 #313: God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols.
If ever there was a song that was an anthem for a movement then, “God Save the Queen” by The Sex Pistols was it for Punk Rock. Written at his kitchen table in the late 1970s, John Lydon (aka, Johnny Rotten) captured the mood of a generation of young people who were dissatisfied with the social structure of life in England at the time, as he aimed his vitriol squarely at the lady sitting on the throne, Queen Elizabeth. In discussing the inspiration behind the song, Lydon responded by questioning why working class blokes, like him, were barely able to make ends meet each week but, just the same, it was expected that they pay taxes to a woman who sat in a palace, attended by bulters and maids, and, according to Lydon, did nothing at all to improve the lives of her subjects. Regardless of your view on the Monarchy, many agreed with Lydon and have found reasons to question the relevance of the Monarchy ever since.
“God Save the Queen” was released from the only album “The Sex Pistols” ever made, called, “Never Mind the Bullocks: Here Come The Sex Pistols”. The song was released to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Anniversary on the throne of England. Needless to say, Buckingham Palace was not amused. The song, while never officially banned by the BBC was, none-the-less, never played on air during the Jubilee celebrations. “The Sex Pistols” attempted to hire a barge to sail along the River Thames so that they could play the song live as the Queen did a walk-about but, they were blocked from doing so by the authorities.
Needless to say, although the band was thwarted in the short term, their song has gone on to stand the test of time and has become their signature song. In the lyrics to “God Save the Queen”, Lydon touches on topics such as tourism, the crimes of colonialism and the future for young people with lines such as,
“There’s no future in England’s dreaming!”
Beyond what the song has meant to the Punk Rock movement, “God Save the Queen” has, also, gone on to be one of the anthems for those groups who speak about income disparity among the classes. Specifically, how so few people at the top of the income scale control so much of the total income while the great masses at the bottom control so little and what that means for the quality of life for a majority of people on Earth.
If you so desire, feel free to share your views on the role played by the Monarchy and the value (or, lack thereof) that you see in it. For me, I will simply close by saying that I believe in the need for and the value of, “leaders” but, I am not so sure about the need for and the value of “rulers”. Regardless of what I think, John Lydon feels that “our figurehead is not what she seems” and that there is “no future” in the UK for people like him, as long as institutions like the Monarchy continue to exist. What say you? Here are “The Sex Pistols” with their biggest hit, “God Save the Queen”. As always…..enjoy!
The link to the video for the lyrics version of the song, “God Save the Queen” by The Sex Pistols, can be found here.
The link to a video of “The Thames Barge Incident” can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Sex Pistols, can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for always playing the latest and greatest tunes from the UK. The link to their website can be found here.