Song Of The Day 8/17/2013: The Sex Pistols - "Johnny B. Goode / Roadrunner"

Quarterly Covers Report: Ahhh, the classics. The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle is probably the best-ever soundtrack to a bad movie -- or at least a sloppy, pitfall-plagued flick that some might find endearing but which I found a catastrophic mess. The soundtrack album makes the movie's point much more clearly. It's a good summary of the tension between aesthetic standards, or lack of if you will, and record business realities of the '70s era, and the fruitlessness of restarting something that's already made the biggest impact it could possibly have.

This medley comes near the start of the record, at the point of their existence when the Sex Pistols and Malcolm McLaren were just trying to figure out what the fuck to do. They decide (or someone decides for them) to do a cover of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," which Johnny Rotten clearly has no affection for. Or memory of. He gets the first line right, "Way down in Lou'siana down in New Orleans," and that's about all. The rest of the song is a mix of Rotten complaining and making silly sounds.

Somebody then decides to do "Roadrunner" by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers. Rotten asks what the first line of the song is, and someone correctly replies, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6." The count-off. The greatest count-off in rock history. Rotten gets a couple of the opening lines right, but them falls into a stumble. You can hear him giggle when he says "I don't know the words!" It's kind of a charming moment. But when he gets to the rapid-fire delivery at the end of the song, he gets everything right. I believe Greil Marcus talked about this moment in his book Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, which I start to read every autumn or something. I never finish.

That's the end of this Quarterly Covers Report. Next one's coming up in November, just in time for Windows 8.1.

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