Sex Pistols… Bodies… Let’s get lyrical!

Something on Bodies by Sex Pistols for Let’s Get Lyrical.

I immersed myself in pop music from a very young age and began by buying records by Adam & the Ants and Madness from 8 years old onwards. However, I was almost immediately drawn to the darker side of ‘pop’. When a friend brought back the infamous ‘Never Mind the Bollocks… Here’s the Sex Pistols’ album on cassette one day from school, I was simultaneously astonished, repulsed and smitten. Although the low-slung melodies and the noisy guitars were thrilling, it was the sneering vocalist and the subjects about which he sang that really connected.

To that point, the only lyrics I has really paid any attention to were those about pirates and Native American Indians, courtesy of Mr Ant, and the kitchen-sink dramas of Madness. Everything else seemed to be cliched, sentimental odes to this thing called ‘love’, which I certainly hadn’t discovered yet. With Johnny Rotten, here was a young, skinny, ginger oik who was taking on the whole world with words. The monarchy, the government and all manner of social stigmas were put to the sword in 3 minute songs. It was empowering and very scary. Sex Pistols moved me then, and still do today. I realised song lyrics could be about anything, and could carry real weight.

As my mother was a staunch Catholic and to an extent had indoctrinated my brother and I, the high (or low) point on the album was the song ‘Bodies’, a self-loathing, guilt-ridden account of abortion, screamed by Johnny at ear-blistering volume. Full of swearing, this was the most shocking thing I had ever heard at the age of 10, and still remains one of the most visceral and frightening lyrical outbursts in the history of song-writing in my opinion. It is genuinely revolting and paints such a grotesque picture, you’re utterly disorientated by the end of it. In a strange way, somehow the song is laced with black humour as well. When he shouts ‘Mummy, Ugh!’ at the end of the song, it’s both upsetting and hilarious. In other words… mind-blowing!

I was too young to have experienced Punk Rock at the time, being 5 years old in 1977, but I took to it immediately from the age of 10 onwards. Through various bands’ lyrics and interviews, I discovered and was turned onto a world of literature, theatre, philosophy and art. Many criticised it as a destructive and nihilistic force in music and culture, but it had the opposite effect on me. Sex Pistols, and songs like ‘Bodies’ opened a door for me to express myself in a non-cliched, anti-establishment way and to question everything. This HAS to be a good thing for any young person.

Read the full lyrics of ‘Bodies‘.

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