Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Evening Tunes: NOFX - "The Decline"

Happy Sunday everybody... For this week's edition of Sunday Evening Tunes I present to you, "The Decline" by NOFX. While there isn't an actual music video for this song (to my knowledge), I've posted the audio because it is absolutely worth 18 minutes it will take you to listen to it.   As one fan describes it:
NOFX's "The Decline" is arguably considered some sort of modern day punk rock masterpiece. Basically, it's one 18-minute song that pretty much encapsulates everything NOFX is known for, commenting on the state of the USA in a political and religious sense. Topics it muses on during it's concourse includes gun control, widespread apathy and conditioning, condemning the religious right-wing and anything that ties in with the underlying theme of the countries decline.
Released eleven years ago, the message of this song could not be more relevant. I really couldn't agree more that this song is a "modern punk rock masterpiece." When this song was released as a single EP my friends and I, loyal NOFX loving punkers we were, rushed to get it. I don't think a lot of my friends at the time (or still) really understood the significance of the song, or punk rock in general, beyond it being the latest kick-ass release from one of our favorite bands. I'm not really sure if I truly did at the time. But I still listen to NOFX, and many of their contemporaries that my friends and I grew up with because they really defined our generation of disaffected suburban youth.
The song, and more of my ranting, is below the fold...

Third wave punk rock has often been known only for its immaturity, lack of substance and sometimes pop-y melodies and commercialist tendencies.  And in many respects these criticisms are correct.  The reason why so many of us "hated" Blink-182 after they weren't just a few kids from Poway anymore, or why we labeled AFI as "sellouts" for signing with Dreamworks, was overcompensation on our part because we knew these criticisms were all too true of our generation of punk.  But this categorization misses a lot of the very substantive contributions that even sometimes clownish bands like NOFX have made to the genre, as well as very political bands like Good Riddance, Pennywise, and even the less political but still socially critical bands like No Use For A Name and Face to Face.

A lot of kids just went to punk shows to run around in a moshpit and get smashed on Mickey's 40oz.'s, but I look back with nostalgia at these aging punk rockers--and share with you a slice of my coming of age experience--not only because the memories of my teen years revolved around making a lot of stupid awesome decisions with a group of troublemakers (many of whom have become as close to me as my own kin), or because many a drunken nights ended with a group of us hanging on one another's shoulders obnoxiously singing along to "On the Outside" (No Use For A Name), but because the message at the heart of much of this music is one which I know many of my friends, including myself, have held onto as we progressed into adulthood.  Punk is an angry, confused expression of being fed up with the ills of society, and not really knowing what to do about it.  And the awkward transition that many of these groups made as they grew up and became more political, or more mainstream, or both, is emblematic of the same transition many of us have struggled to make (and continue to struggle with) as we've entered the realm of adulthood and are faced with the confusing decisions associated with staying true to the values that define who we are without selling out to Dreamworks.

Anyhow, that's all for me waxing nostalgic... Forgive the digression, but please do yourself a favor and listen to this epic single by NOFX.  (after you hit play, you may need to pause it for a few seconds and let the feed catch up, then hit play again.)  Btw, you can buy this EP for like $7.99 on iTunes... NOFX would probably rather you steal it, as it states in the inside flap of the CD that you shouldn't pay more than $5 for it.


Henry Vasquez said...

As a fellow 90s punk fan, I'm glad to see you posted "The Decline." Although I'm a bit young, I caught the tail end of the scene through my older cousins. One of my favorite lines:

"Why try to beat them when, a million others tried?"

It's interesting to compare this to a mainstream voice from 2006 that came from completely outside the punk scene. You'll hate me for this comparison:

"We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it."

Anger is what separates NOFX from John Mayer in this general sentiment; disaffection and frustration are what unite them.

ShamRockNRoll said...

haha, you've just completely blown my mind by comparing NOFX & John Mayer.

Colleen Lowry said...

Great tune. I like this Sunday evening music thing, it helps me procrastinate a little more than I already do, but in a good way.

Colleen Lowry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Ryan said...

While I appreciate their sincerity in this case, I've never been a big fan of NOFX because I think their sound was a direct influence on the unfortunate pop-punk wave of the late-90s/early-2000s. For a modern band that I would consider - in attitude and music - truly "punk" (a genre that is really quite loosely defined) I would suggest taking a listen to The Thermals. I would particularly recommend their 2006 masterpiece of an album "The Body, The Blood, and The Machine" if you want to here some extremely angry far-left back-to-basics rock and roll.

Thank you for putting up with my hipster snobbery. Have a nice day.

ShamRockNRoll said...

I disapprove of your disapproval of NOFX. You can't blame them for supposedly influencing something they don't actually represent. Anyway, that is all.