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Is there anything John Lydon won’t say “Sod off” to? Let’s review:
– Sex Pistols’ infamous “nonexistent” Number 1 record, “God Save the Queen” = SOD OFF, ENGLAND!
– Playing “No Fun” in San Francisco (“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”) = SOD OFF, USA!
– Burning the last letter written by Sid Vicious to ashes = SOD OFF, FANS!
– Reuniting with the Pistols on the “Filthy Lucre” tour = SOD OFF, MYSELF!
– Refusing to lip-sync and dancing with the audience on “Bandstand” = SOD OFF, DICK CLARK!
– Appearing on “Judge Judy” = SOD OFF, DAYTIME TV!
– Failing to appear at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s induction of the Pistols = SOD OFF, INDUSTRY!
– Missing his scheduled trip on Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over Scotland = SOD OFF, FATE!
And this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the greatest middle finger of all is the fact that after changing the fabric of the musical and cultural universe with the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten actually started a real band. While Public Image Ltd. didn’t arouse the kind of passions that got Lydon mobbed and stabbed in the streets of London during the Silver Jubilee, it continued his lifelong “Sod off” project by packaging negativity in a thoroughly musical package.
Lydon never runs out of bullshit to expose and ways to expose it. Other pissed-off rockers of old – that is, the ones that aren’t dead – have become mature and mellowed out (paging Bono!). In spite of many changes of haircut and style, Lydon seems every bit as ready to bite your head off as he ever was. Believe in love? No! (See “Flowers of Romance.”) Depend on good friends? No! (See “Disappointed.”) Have hope for the future of the human race? Fuck no! (See “Careering,” “Rise,” and “Home,” for starters.) But once you give up and prepare to sink into the slough of despair, you realize Lydon won’t even allow you that measure of comfort: this shit is actually compulsively danceable as well as hateful.
The final irony? In spite of three decades of publicly venting his spleen, Lydon is possibly the healthiest, best behaved punk on earth – no drugs, no arrests, and only one wife. He’s so punk, he’s gone through punk, turned it inside out, and come out the other end. To be or not to be? Sod off!