#840: 1977, Sex Pistols, Bodies

by Jackie_South on January 22, 2014

Song number 7 in our series offucksongs. I have to say I’m not that enamoured with the subject – I’ve no problem with the word and there are some great songs that we have previously posted where the use the word has made the song: see here and here.

But as I’ve got older, I appreciate more the discomfort it brings to many of my parents’ generation: my mum and my auntie Wanda (dad’s sister) in particular find it unpleasant having grown up in aspirant working class families where that sort of language earned you a clip round the ear.

Different generations have different taboo words and whilst mine has less problem with the ‘sexual swear words’ (as the video censors used to call them) we do find far greater offence at racial insults. For us, the N-word and P-word have the same potency that the F-word had for them – neither my mum or aunt would ever use the N-word (my aunt grew up in West London, my mum had black friends at work) but I’ve had to lecture both on how the P-word isn’t just a harmless abbreviation of Pakistani.

That act of telling them off, after the instinctive gritting of teeth and hairs standing up on the back of my neck on hearing the word, made me realise how they feel about the word fuck.

Of course, when I was young the potency of that word and the reaction was most of the fun of it. Almost thirty yeas ago, sat in the car as mum drove a teenage Jackie to the shops, she asked me if I wanted to play some of my music. So,  the Never Mind the Bollocks cassette clicked and whirred into place. Second track in comes Bodies, with its final verse starting

Fuck this and fuck that
Fuck it all and fuck the fucking brat

Looking sideways, Mum’s face tensed up in a way I had never seen before and seemed to turn a peculiar shade of purple.

Strangely, it is of course quite a moral song in its own way despite the profanity. Sometimes mistaken as an anti-abortion song, it is in fact Lydon railing against the worst excesses of the behaviour of the Pistols‘ fans. One of those fans decided to prove to him how ‘punk’ she was by posting him her aborted fetus. Lydon (not least because of his Catholic upbringing – plenty of Catholics in punk) was horrified and the song is expressing that and his contempt for someone that insensitive.

Which brings me to the clip – not only the song, but a snippet also from a great documentary I caught over Christmas about a benefit Christmas gig the Pistols did for strikers in Huddersfield: kids’ party (complete with custard pie throwing) in the afternoon followed by the adults’ gig in the evening. If you thought that it was only the Clash that did politics, this was a refreshing reminder that it was deeply ingrained in much of punk.

It’s a pity we don’t see much of that solidarity today. When did you last here of pop stars doing a gig for those being kicked off their benefits by our heartless government or how it is ripping apart the NHS, or education, or so much else of the state we grew up believing  was our birthright? Or standing up for the poor or for immigrants as they are scape-goated by the press whilst the bankers and tax-dodgers get off scot-free?

Now, that is behaviour that both my mum and I would agree is truly obscene.

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