I’m a big fan of Henry Rollins. Ever since I read his essay, Iron and the Soul, I was hooked. Not only do I like his music, but his spoken word performances are some of the most thoughtful, moving works of art out there.
With a lot of celebrities, when you get to know more about who they are, you either get bored or lose respect for them. But with Rollins, you find that he’s as solid as they come. His integrity is as grounded as his message. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. Not even in the days when he was punk-rocking his face off as the front-man of Black Flag. What he gets high on is sharing his truth — no matter how brutal it may be at the time.
Anyhow, I was chatting with a friend the other day about Rollins. She’s a punk fan from back in the day and went to a lot of Black Flag shows. We were sharing our mutual admiration of Rollins, and she mentioned I should listen to the track, Family Man.
So I did…
Family Man is an old spoken word track from 1984 with Rollins at the mic. Here’s the lyrics..
With your glances my way, takin no chance on the new day
Family man, with your life all planned;
Your little sand castle built, smilin through your guilt, family man
Here I come
Here I come family man
I come to infect; I come to rape your women;
I come to take your children into the street;
I come for YOU family man, with your Christmas lights already up,
Your such a MAN when your puttin up your Christmas lights,
First on the block;
I wanna crucify you to your front door with the nails
From your well stocked garage family man;
Saint dad! father on fire! I’ve come to incinerate you
I’ve come home
Yes! I love this! I shook my fist in punk solidarity after Rollins’ voice faded out.
And then, later that evening, I realized…
Shit. I AM the family man. What have I DONE with my life?
Just last week, I was thinking that I wanted to be the first on my block to hang our Christmas lights... I have a pretty well-stocked basement... I tend to smile quite a bit... There’s a car seat in the back of both of our cars... We own a Subaru... I could go on. ..
Yes, damn it, I am a family man. But looking at my past and seeing the direction I could have easily gone in if I’d followed the trend of my peers and family members growing up, I probably wouldn’t be a family man. If I’d allowed myself to be swept into the gutter that so many of my loved ones who’d helped raise me had found themselves in, I’d be a junkie or dead by now.
But I didn’t. I went against the grain. I built a pretty chill, relaxing, life-affirming family with a beautiful lady who shared the same vision. We’re into keeping it hygge. We put a lot of focus on making ourselves better humans.
Maybe — just maybe — in my case, this is keeping it punk.
Isn’t this what punk is all about? Going against the flow? Raising that fist against the resistance?
Most punk rockers grew up with cushy, upper-middle class lives in the suburbs. Their problem was boredom. They wanted to kick down the white picket fence. So they went in the opposite direction.
I’m doing the same thing, just with a different starting point. Where I came from, the white picket fence never looked so good.
Yeah… This life of mine is punk rock. Maybe not to HR’s standards. But just punk rock enough.
I realized this last night as I hung my Christmas lights. And yes, I was the first on my block.