The Stooges – 1969

8th May 2024 · 1960s, 1969, Music

I was busy building tree houses and playing with train sets when The Stooges released their debut album so I can only imagine the impact of hearing this when it came out. No need to say when that was either – it’s right there in the title.

With Iggy’s apathetic vocal, Ron Asheton weaponising his fuzz pedal and the rhythm team (Ron’s brother Scott and Dave Alexander) rocking a Bo Diddley beat, it must have sounded like the antidote to the Summer of Love.

Curiously, and much to my surprise, the song does have its connection to 1967 and the hippy era of peace and love.

Asheton’s scuzzy guitar riff is lifted directly from a Byrds song called Tribal Gathering – specifically the two moments when Roger McGuinn’s grungy guitar suddenly blasts its way through what was previously quite a hippy-dippy tune written by David Crosby about a hippy gathering he attended that year in LA’s Elysian Park.

Not that Crosby’s lyrics, about a smiling girl who will “hand you a stick of sandalwood” or a “friendly motorcycle angel” (as if!) who comes to “share a smoke” have much in common with Iggy’s.

The words of 1969 are a short, sharp summary of teenage frustration (even though Iggy tells us in the lyric that he’s 21): “Another year for me and you / Another year with nothin’ to do.”

Nothing, that is, except form a band and make a noise that goes on to influence not just countless bands (what is Buzzcocks’ Boredom if not a sequel to 1969?) but entire musical movements – not least punk and grunge.

And, of course, to create one of rock music’s most iconic and enduring figures.