Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music Rebels - The Runaways - Jim Carroll

There's been many rebel types in the music industry. Different rebel types in different music categories. Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop, Keith Moon, Johnny Cash, Patti Smith, Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, The Ramones, even the high brow Kronos Quartet, all in their own ways. There's even web sites dedicated to reporting on music rebels like Heartless Music.

Two I always found interesting are Joan Jett and the late Jim Carroll. Joan's first band being, The Runaways. Joan's band of many years now is Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Both of these people have movies out about their beginnings. Joan's, was The Runaways.
Joan Jett

I watched The Runaways today about the band Joan Jett started out in. It was odd hearing them talking about Susie Quatro as a role model. I remember her when she wasn't anybody and just didn't see her the same way at the time. I always felt you just have to respect anyone who stands up and... does.
When I was there age, I never ACTUALLY considered running off and being in a band, I only dreamed of it. Funny thing, I had what appeared to be the same guitar and case with internal amp in it that Joan does int he film. I got it from my older brother, he got it from Sears.

It was actually better than I expected, I actually found it sad and motivating. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 68% rating, higher than the fans did at 56%.

For an actual documentary on The Runaways, check out 2004s, "Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways". Available via streaming download on Netflix: "Jail bait" rockers The Runaways tell their own tale -- their hopes, dreams and eventual implosion due to incessant media hectoring, infighting among the band members and chronic drug use. Directed by Victory Tischler-Blue, the film shows what it was like for six teenage girls to gain notoriety in an era hostile to female musicians. Includes live performances, a special appearance by Suzi Quatro and new songs by Quatro and Lita Ford."

I've always liked artists who went against the grain, showed spirit, fought against the machined rage and excelled beyond what their life gave them. Joan Jett is one of those.

As was Jim Carroll with all that he has been through. Jim had a pretty amazing story, just check out the 1995 film, Basketball Diaries, based on his autobiography and staring a young Leonard DiCaprio as Jim.
While still in high school, Carroll published his first collection of poems, Organic Trains. Already attracting the attention of the local literati, his work began appearing in the Poetry Project's magazine The World in 1967.  In 1978, after he moved to California to get a fresh start since kicking his heroin addiction, Carroll reformed a San Francisco Bay area band called Amsterdam, as The Jim Carroll Band, now a New Wave/punk rock group. Carroll got the band started with encouragement from ex New York City apartment mate Patti Smith, whom he lived with along with now infamous artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
The Album, Catholic Boy

The band released a great single "People Who Died", from their 1980 debut album, Catholic Boy, about the people he had known and how they died. The song's title was based on a poem by a New York poet peer of Jim's, Ted Berrigan.
  James Dennis Carroll
Heroin really took its toll on Jim. I had a coworker at Tower Video, Mercer store in Seattle, years ago. She once told me back int he mid 80s, that she heard Jim had kicked "H" and she went to see him. She had her own problems with it and they got worse in succeeding years when she was "dancing" at a peepshow called Champ Arcade on the corner across from Pike Place Market. She went to see Jim do a reading of his poetry one night when he was in town. She walked up to him afterward and said, "I thought you kicked it but I can see you didn't. Takes one to know one." He didn't have much to say about it, he was high.

Jim Carroll, then and ....
 ...and later
As with many rebel bands and artists, drugs had a lot to do with being a rebel and being able to keep the distance from people and society to be ABLE to rebel, and that's too bad really. Some make it through and Joan Jett is one of those. Jim died on September 11, 2009 only making it to age 60 due to a heart attack while still working at his desk. Not surprising that he would die younger than need be. 

These two rebels, rocked. One of them right until the end.

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