James Campion on CBGB
By stern on Nov 06, 2006
His obituary for punk club CBGB is required reading for anyone who listens, has listened, or might listen to the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, or the Clash. What other American club is cross-referenced by the Talking Heads?
What I find both sad and humorous about the decline and fall of CBGB is that punk rock was supposed to lead to the decline and fall of "real rock". I'm not quite sure how that was reflected in real life, since real NJ rocker Bruce Springsteen gave a hit song to punk NJ rocker Patti Smith ("Because the Night"), and the attitude ensconced in punk seems to have re-appeared in rap, hip-hop, grunge, industrial, and a metallicized renaissance. I'll admit I was as taken aback by System of a Down (on first listen) as my parents were by the Ramones. That, I believe, is the point: push the boundaries, challenge common perception, make music.
Art that is safe hangs on your wall. It's there for the duration. Art that challenges your perceptions requires a few passes, and probably some repeated listening. Perhaps network distribution of music will replace the need for small clubs like CBGB, because you'll be exposed to a wider variety of art with less travel, late night hours and parental scorn. But the dispersion of culture electronically will never replace the creation of culture through the physics of a tightly packed space so eloquently described by JC.