Noh Mercy – Caucasian Guilt

9th July 2022 · 1970s, 1979, Music, Punk

This startling oddity is about as ‘punk’ as it’s possible to get, despite consisting of nothing but a drum and a voice. It’s one of the angriest tirades you’ll ever hear. It still sounds shocking today.

Noh Mercy were a female duo from San Francisco who formed in 1977. Esmerelda and Tony Hotel lived up to their motto of “No Boys On Guitars.” They didn’t need them for their queer rebellion. They were Riot Grrrls before the genre had been invented.

This is the only song I ever heard by them.

It was on the Fast Product compilation EP Earcom 3, which was also the first time I heard DAF, a band so beloved of David Stubbs.

When you hear Caucasian Guilt you’ll appreciate why accusations of racism might have been levelled at them. As so often, the accusers missed the irony.

The song’s author (Esmerelda) was brought up by racist adoptive parents in Texas and, as she recalls, “beaten for even looking at black people.”

Growing up, “I heard every negative racial epithet for every faith and culture daily daily from my father, who was dangerous when he drank. In my home racism was a form of child abuse.”

A teenager runaway, she was married with two children by the age of 22 and vented her rage – at her husband, her parents, her situation and a male-dominated society – into Noh Mercy.

“I used shock value and NOTHING in this country gets more reaction than race,” she explained later.

“The song was a funny ironic litany of all the terrible havoc white Europeans have wrecked on different cultures living in my country and I wanted no part of it of it.”