Subscribe

(Credit: Raph_PH)

Music

Revisiting Iggy Pop's cover of The Who song 'I Can't Explain'

@SamWKemp

Iggy Pop is a name that captures the bacchanalian decadence at the very heart of rock ‘n’ roll. As the writhing, snake-skinned provocateur of The Stooges, Pop re-defined the function of the frontman – imbuing the role with the carnivalesque appeal of the Bouffon clown. His appetite for destruction saw him use his body to whip up a frenzy; his elastic movements pushing his band to thrash away with even more intensity. With all the abuse he submitted himself to, it’s a wonder he’s still alive. Still, Pop’s commitment to the cause left a remarkable legacy, inspiring an entire generation of punk bands in the US and the UK alike. Without Pop’s work in the 1960s, the 1970s would have looked very different.

Despite standing in stark contrast to the more revered (and less anarchic) bands of the day, Iggy Pop wasn’t as dismissive as you’d expect. Indeed, in his autumn years, the rock icon began looking back on the 1960s with no small hint of nostalgia. In 2014, for example, he released a cover of The Who song ‘I Can’t Explain’. Like The Stooges, The Who were famed for their self-devouring taste for carnage, with Keith Moon’s destruction of his own drum kit standing up as one of the most iconic moments in rock and roll history.

‘I Can’t Explain’ was written in 1964 by an 18-year-old Pete Townsend, who described the track as being about a man who struggles to tell his girlfriend he loves her because he’s taken one too many Dexedrine tablets. I’m sure Iggy Pop could relate to that sort of subject matter, having popped every pill in existence at one time or another. At the height of his drug abuse in the mid-1970s, his drug cocktail of choice was a mix of LSD and cocaine. Recalling those days in a 2017 interview, Pop said: “I had a binge on MDMA in the 1970s,” he began. “And at a festival called Goose Lake in Michigan, I was snorting something they said was coke but I learned later was ketamine. I couldn’t remember who I was for about 12 hours.”

Pop’s 2014 cover, however, was recorded when the musician was committed to clean living. As a result, the rendition is surprisingly restrained. Still, behind the neat guitar tracks and regimented arrangments in ‘I Can’t Explain’, lies the venomous bite of a man with more stories of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery than you’ve had hot dinners.

Make sure you check it out below.