Monday, November 9, 2009

A Cheap Holiday In Other People's Misery

In October of 1977, The Sex Pistols released their fourth and final single on their third label, Virgin Records, after being dropped from EMI and A&M for being a dangerous liability. The single, "Holidays In The Sun" was inspired by a two week trip the band took to Berlin, and would be the lead track on their one and only LP that came out a few weeks later.

Singer Johnny Rotten recalls:

"Being in London at the time made us feel like we were trapped in a prison camp environment. There was hatred and constant threat of violence. The best thing we could do was to go set up in a prison camp somewhere else. Berlin and its decadence was a good idea. The song came about from that. I loved Berlin. I loved the wall and the insanity of the place. The communists looked in on the circus atmosphere of West Berlin, which never went to sleep, and that would be their impression of the West."

The Pistols were about to implode a few short months later after the release of Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols and an ill-fated tour of the US, where they skipped most of the cities (New York, for instance) that might have understood what they were trying to do. I guess that was the point. The unsuspecting public was not ready for them in places like Dallas and Tulsa, and Listening to this record today, it sounds a good deal tamer than it did in 1977. Then, it sounded ferocious, and like nothing before it.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I thought about what to post in honor of this important and historic event. I considered some Kraut rock, maybe Iggy or Bowie's excursions to Berlin. Lou Reed's Berlin was an obvious choice. I've opted for this instead, a record that blew my mind as a precocious 12 year-old who had a vague knowledge of the Berlin Wall, and whose life was changed both by the existence of the Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, and ten years later by a visit to East Berlin on a day pass from Kreuzberg that opened my young and naive American eyes to the ugliness of life behind the Iron Curtain in a series of events worthy of a spy movie. I'll tell that story another time.

Here's the Sex Pistols...


"Holidays In The Sun" mp3
by the Sex Pistols, 1977.
available on Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols



Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Fine post, Ted. Do you have any pix from your Berlin trip?

Also, one of the best Pistols songs...I used the same clip on my Wall piece over at bugmelater dot blogspot, for anyone who cares...

Ted Barron said...

Thanks, I do have photographs from both West and East Berlin, and I'll try and post them at my other site soon.

Alex said...

It's amazing to remember that back in the mid-1980s it seemed like the Wall would never come down. And 20 years after it did, I wonder if people appreciate how monumental that event really was!

Anonymous said...

My elder brother had the poster on his wall for the single and I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Great song; great commentry. W.