[feature] New Year’s Count-Up: 1978 in five songs

Punk spreads its wings, but rock still has some fight left.

- Nov 30, 2012

As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 1978!


Buzzcocks – “I Don't Mind”

Buzzcocks - I Don't Mind

If we had to pinpoint the year that established that punk wasn't the fad many had pegged it for, 1978 would have to be it, thanks to the development of post-punk (see below) and bands like The Buzzcocks doing incredible new things with the genre (we haven't forgotten about The Clash. You'll see them soon). “I Don't Mind” is a close relative of The Ramones, with the theatrical flair stripped away in favor of the working class rage and ennui that so riled the British upper-class.

Joe Jackson – “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Turns out no one knows how to write a song about being a frail, lonely lad quite like a frail, lonely rock star. Joe Jackson's global hit takes the dull pain of a sinking heart and spreads it out over three minutes and thirty seconds.

Public Image Limited – “Public Image”

PIL - Public Image

I remember being shocked when I discovered that John Lydon had spearheaded not one but two defining bands of the 20th Century. For Lydon, after the Sex Pistols came Public Image Limited, a band wherein punk was redefined by one of its creators into “post-punk.” Their first hit single “Public Image” was released while the public was still thunderstruck from the Pistols' catastrophic meltdown, making its anti-celebrity message even more brilliant and timely.

Blondie – “Picture This”

Blondie - Picture This

I hate that I can't hear “One Way Or Another” without thinking of car rental commercials, but there's so many other amazing songs on Parallel Lines that complaining feels greedy. “Picture This” reveals the vulnerable side to Debbie Harry's wildcat from “One Way,” that helps cement her as one of rock and roll's most complicated and important bandleaders, and one hell of a lyricist.

Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London”

Werewolves Of London

This UK smash cemented Zevon as a crazy-smart, acerbic storyteller who was at the top of his musical game when he was being political. Also, apparently Kid Rock sampled this for “All Summer Long,” which I guess makes him less of a dirtbag.

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