New York Dolls, "Jet Boy"

Indie music being essentially conservative, its adherents tend to focus on direct lines of transmission and influence. The New York Dolls are an exemplary middle stage, connecting the David Bowie-Lou Reed-Iggy Pop axis of influence with more explicit 1950s references and New York toughness (and cross-dressing). Remove the wigs and dresses, and it's not too difficult to see a progenitor of the Ramones, or the continued relevance of singer-guitar-bass-drums set-ups over the work of individual musician-auteurs; Patti Smith, David Byrne, Richard Hell, and Tom Verlaine all felt the need to have actual bands.

But this influence is not entirely self-contained. "Jet Boy," among other songs on New York Dolls, sounds rather distinctly like late-70s Aerosmith, and, as it happened, the Dolls toured with Aerosmith during their early years; if you're looking for reasons that Toys in the Attic and Get Your Wings sound radically different than Aerosmith, that would be the primary one. A band most people have never heard of had a decisive influence on one everyone has heard of.

(This post was inspired by watching Scrooged this past week, and marveling at the very wide and very strange collection of things David Johansen has managed to do in his life. We should all be so lucky.)

No comments: