Are all children punks? Or did punks just never grow up? What if it’s a bit of both?
During my twenties and thirties, I organised a number of punk, hardcore and noise gigs in cellars, bars, squats, and churches, becoming a small link in the great chain that is the ‘Do It Yourself’ movement. Musicians often slept in my Parisian apartment, leaving the place in an appalling state having behaved like big babies, unable to find the toilets, make coffee or connect to the Wi-Fi without my help. I couldn’t help but wonder what made punk musicians so childish. Thinking about it now, long after becoming a father and asking myself many times about the origin of the revolutionary and rebellious instincts of my offspring (mostly funny, but sometimes quite wearing it must be admitted!), I have at last understood that punks and children share a pure and fundamentally free vision of the world. And it’s this – in a more regulated and less and less fun world – that a good number of musicians continue to defend and claim in their music.
Rather than surrendering to the idea (propagated subliminally by mainstream culture) that children only want to hum along to Disney music and series’ theme tunes, I decided to bring together some punk and alternative songs that they might like. What clicks when kids find a song that they love? If you've ever asked your child which instrument they’d like to play, chances are the answer is... drums! A song like Rebel Girl (which also carries a great feminist message that everyone needs to hear from an early age) has a simple, super catchy drum intro, easy to recreate with or without instruments. Children (like punk rockers, if my theory holds) have little or no complex when it comes to expressing themselves and dancing. So I chose punk and rock bands that are easy to move to: Devo, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, the Japanese trio The 126.96.36.199's that you definitely heard in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, the classic “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith and Run DMC (the first successful example of rap and guitar fusion) and even some ska punk from Rancid (don't be snobbish about ska, now. Your kids are going to love skanking).
Without necessarily knowing its meaning, children often retain a phrase or a word that creeps into their brains to be sung loudly at any time of day. After all, what are most rock n roll songs if not slightly edgy nursery rhymes? “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by The Pixies, “Just A Girl” by No Doubt, “Alphabutt” by Kimya Dawson, and “We’re a Happy Family” by The Ramones are rich enough in catchy choruses and funny punchlines to appeal even to the youngest child.
So, the next time someone tells you ‘punk is dead’ or that the genre is nonsense, invite them to babysit your kids whilst they listen to this playlist...