Living the punk life in Green Bay, Wisconsin: exploring contradiction in the music of NOFX

James, Kieran (2010) Living the punk life in Green Bay, Wisconsin: exploring contradiction in the music of NOFX. Musicology Australia, 32 (1). pp. 95-120. ISSN 0814-5857

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Abstract

This paper studies song lyrics from three mid-period songs written and performed by Californian punk band NOFX. I discuss NOFX’s skilful exploration of contradiction in the three selected songs, two of which are character studies of a single young male individual. The questions that the songs pose in true dialectical fashion (but do not definitively answer) include: Is it possible to maintain the carefree existential existence of the archetypal punk rocker in the face of the constraints imposed by suburban life and the voices of middle-class moderation? Can a Jewish gang in Fairfax, Los Angeles simultaneously affirm group self-identity, defend its turf, and practise its (marginalized) religion? Can a young man enjoy Christianity because it makes his life ‘seem less insane’ whilst simultaneously taking control of his life and not being a Christian sheep? NOFX poses these questions in admirable dialectical fashion, allows us to reflexively examine the issues involved, and form our own conclusions. The band rarely descends into moralism but moral values underpin NOFX’s worldview. Above all, NOFX tries to maintain a sophisticated but precarious ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’ approach to each one of the questions posed in this abstract. Clever lyrics, which highlight the contradictions that a punk rocker must face whilst living in suburban America, have become one of the band’s most loved and most enduring themes.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Depositing User: Dr Kieran James
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2010 05:44
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2014 01:34
Uncontrolled Keywords: christian punk; christianity; contradiction; dialectic; existentialism; Marxism; NOFX; punk rock; SoCal punk; Joe Strummer
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200208 Migrant Cultural Studies
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220307 Hermeneutic and Critical Theory
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200206 Globalisation and Culture
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200203 Consumption and Everyday Life
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950101 Music
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950407 Social Ethics
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950304 Conserving Intangible Cultural Heritage
Identification Number or DOI: doi: 10.1080/08145851003794018
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/8368

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