Quick caveat: As of the publishing of this post, I am still reading Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. In fact, I have yet to break past the first hundred pages.
Earlier this month I drove down to SeaTac for a one-day business trip to Scottsdale, AZ. At the airport, I reconnected with an acquaintance from my days at KZUU. He was working the Sub Pop store, and I had to do a double-take when I saw him. We caught up for a few, then I picked up this book for some light reading on the plane: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.
The past year has been one monumental upheaval after another, it seems. From continuing my career in marketing but starting a new job in a new industry (powersports), to getting my motorcycle endorsement and starting to ride; from becoming a gym rat and losing 35 pounds to a slew of other things I won’t go into at this time.
Another big change: I started reading books again.
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk has been around for a while. In fact, my copy (pictured above) is the 20th Anniversary Edition. So the book is far from new. And the content, referencing the birth of Punk, obviously follows suit.
As noted, I’m still toward the beginning of the book, but I freakin’ love it. It’s raw, packed with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll (as you’d expect). And it’s truly uncensored; certain elements are flat out gross, like hearing about the first time Iggy Pop got the Clap (hint: it was Nico who gave it to him early during his days with The Stooges).
Please Kill Me isn’t your typical non-fiction history book. It reads more like watching a documentary–it is merely a chronological recounting from the people themselves, in their own words, about punk rock, starting at the beginning.
Early on, we hear from Elektra Records A&R folks, members of The Stooges and MC5, band and tour managers, and more. They speak from memory, telling stories about specific concerts or experiences relating to the birth of a genre. And it’s brilliant!
Each snippet is brief, jumping from one character’s description to another’s quickly in a way that expertly pieces together a story as opposed to coming across as disjointed and disconnected. It flows nicely, while mercilessly going in-depth on topics and story-lines that, despite taking place more than fifty years ago, many would still consider taboo today.
Yes, I’m nowhere near finishing this book, but I still highly recommend it if you’re a fan of music history and music literature. It’s a mustn’t miss book, one that is intrinsically important to understand both modern rock and modern indie rock.
Swing by the Sub Pop store next time you’re in Seattle at the airport, or go to the dark side and grab Please Kill Me from Amazon.
Also, for more related content, check out the Please Kill Me website by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.