I’ve liked punk rock since I first heard The Ramones and The Clash when I was about 13.  It’s my favorite genre of music, maybe because it’s my favorite kind to play on guitar, but probably because it’s just so damned energetic and fun.  I also enjoy good alternative country, reggae, hard rock and Celtic rock, but I’m always in the mood for punk (or any of its sub-genres). Here’s a very incomplete list of some of my favorite punk songs.

 

Bitchin’ Camaro (Dead Milkmen)

Starts out as a kind of slow, jazzy, goofy conversation, but kicks in about 2 minutes in.  The Dead Milkmen are a very entertaining band.

 

“I ran over some old lady one night at the county fair

And I didn’t get arrested because my dad’s the mayor”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v3CzvQ9e_w

 

Hot Dog in a Hallway (NOFX)

Just a little ditty about being in love with a big woman who’s – shall we say – rather cavernous down south.  One of my favorite bands.

 

“It’s like feeding a tic-tac to a whale, that’s why I love her”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THoAvX0nWbg

 

I’ve Got an Ape Drape (The Vandals)

A wonderful tribute to the mullet.  I like The Vandals because they always go for the joke.

 

“I’ve been growing that one braid back there for years

I’ve had it since the first time I saw Queensryche”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCUBnF_HWBs

 

The Gauntlet (Dropkick Murphys)

Not sure what this is about, other than some sort of violence.  The DMs can rock pretty hard when they put their minds to it.

 

“You could sit here scared to move, or we could take them by surprise”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LQbPVmkNao

 

Basket Case (Green Day)

I got a promo copy of “Dookie” for a 30th birthday gift, and have always loved this song.  Sometimes I adopt it as my theme of life.

 

“I went to a whore, he said my life’s a bore

And quit my whining ‘cuz it’s bringing her down”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUTGr5t3MoY

 

Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (The Ramones)

I wore out the Rocket to Russia album in junior high.  The band is just so addictive.

 

“Well, New York City really has it all”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGgfHZ02I2k

 

Joanie Loves Johnny (Screeching Weasel)

My favorite Chicago punkers.  It’s the only song I’ve heard that really satirizes the sterilized wholesomeness of the TV show “Happy Days.”

 

“Pinky Tuscadero’s stewed, Fonzie’s all fucked up on ‘ludes”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQouAnQ9ODI

 

Career Opportunities (The Clash)

Just a great song by one of the all-time great rock bands.  Let’s face it, nobody really WANTS to have to work.

 

“Do you wanna make tea for the BBC?

Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsE5NAAU39k

 

EMI (Sex Pistols)

A wonderful middle finger to The Pistols’ former record label.  Oh, and it rocks, too.

 

“And blind acceptance is a sign of stupid fools who stand in line”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjbie1O1jxc

 

Oh Nina (The Muffs)

I just want to go on the record and say I want to have, like 10,000 of Kim Shattuck’s babies.  She certainly can scream.

 

“Oh Nina, a ballerina, she is a queer

And she knows you never have a clue”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_yjgPhju5I

 

Joker in the Pack (The Adicts)

Just a fun song by a band that dresses up like the droogies from “A Clockwork Orange.”

 

“I make them laugh a lot, I make them accept me”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV5-KhZMOtY

 

TV Party (Black Flag)

A favorite when I was in college and the Repo Man soundtrack had just come out.  Good party song.

 

“I wouldn’t be without my TV for a day (or even a minute)

Don’t even bother to use my brain anymore (there’s nothing left in it)”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6otjCKg594

 

When the Shit Hits the Fan (Circle Jerks)

Really captures the socio-economic turmoil of the early 80s.

 

“We just get by however we can

We all gotta duck when the shit hits the fan”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIlIL5pPFmY

 

Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys)

Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome really rock out on this one, probably their most popular song.

 

“I got my devil machine, got my electronic dream”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdu3EU6sbng

 

Let’s Lynch the Landlord (Dead Kennedys)

One of the great early L.A.-area punk bands. You won’t find a much more charismatic singer than Jello Biafra.

 

“I tell ‘em ‘turn on the water,’ I tell ‘em ‘turn on the heat’

Tells me ‘all you ever do is complain,’ then they search the place when I’m not there”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP1NyV60WzA

 

Baby!! (Downtown Brown)

Saw these guys a few years ago and was quite impressed.  This is my most-played song on my iTunes.

 

“Baby, baby, you rock my shit; my shit gets rocked when you’re around it”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gMlfrJKNPA

 

Burning Too (Fugazi)

Fugazi’s just an all-around fantastic band.  This one pops into my head quite often.

 

“Anytime but now, anywhere but here, anyone but me”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqpJ84KI6Js

 

Beast with Five Hands (Groovie Ghoulies)

Just a little song about being in love with a girl with – you guessed it — five hands.

 

“You really make me happy, you really make me sing

But I don’t think we’ll marry, ‘cuz I can’t afford five rings”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD8F5wKg55k

 

Lipstick (Guttermouth)

You just don’t hear enough songs about a teenager falsely accusing his mother of abuse and sending her away to jail.

 

“You’re worthless, you’re lazy, you’re stupid, a little overweight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SQ85HVegOE

 

Die, All Right! (The Hives)

Yeah, Swedish punk!

 

“I filled my pockets now I might as well (die)

I found the backdoor out of teenage hell”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXqujk-b7DI

 

I Apologize (Husker Du)

I first became aware Husker Du in college.  I’d never heard such a distorted guitar.

 

“Now we sit around staring at the walls, we don’t do anything at all

Take out the garbage, maybe, but the dishes don’t get done”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fESrHOVa8E

 

Sound System (Operation Ivy)

This one’s very difficult not to dance to.

 

“To resist despair in this world is what it is, what it is, what it is to be free”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dMVHxFzNK4

 

Bro Hymn (Pennywise)

A great tribute to the memory of the band’s bassist, Jason Thirsk.  Just try not to chant along.

 

“While you were here the fun was never-ending, laugh a minute was the only beginning”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjHYAVeFwGw

 

Punk Rock Girls (The Queers)

Like Screeching Weasel, this band cheerfully acknowledges their tremendous Ramones influence.

 

“Leather jackets, stupid boyfriends, poor report cards, life is just a ball”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEO9rikCRbo

 

The Pope Is Packed (Rats of Unusual Size)

I don’t know much about this band, but heard the song many years ago and still enjoy it.  It’s about John Paul II arming himself after being shot in 1981.

 

“Nice enough at Sunday mass, but piss him off and he’ll kick your ass”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCUy4no1-YI

 

Suspect Device (Stiff Little Fingers)

From the opening riff, this song’s hard to get out of your head.

 

“They make us feel indebted for saving us from hell

And then they put us through it, it’s time the bastards fell”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBYoNYuUVk0

 

Search and Destroy (The Stooges)

From one of the most aptly-titled albums ever, “Raw Power.”  I’m glad Iggy’s still at it.

 

“Soul radiation in the dead of night, love in the middle of a firefight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vnwSVTOnqQ

 

I Saw Your Mommy… (Suicidal Tendencies)

A little dark, but funny, song about finding a kid’s mom dead in a very bloody fashion, and accusing the kid of having her killed.

 

“But the thing I liked seeing the best were all the rodents using her hair as a nest”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlHHmrYUPkc

 

12 X U (Wire)

This one’s a little light on the lyrics, but I love the music.

 

“Saw you in a mag, kissing a man”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAn_T4D2kww

 

Because I Do (X)

X was another of the great L.A.-based bands.  Good song about being unhappily married.

 

“I am the married kind, the kind that said ‘I do,’ forever searching for someone new”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMXn9YHNf3o

 

Oh Bondage!  Up Yours! (X-Ray Spex)

A song about, well, bondage, sung by one of the great early punk singers, Poly Styrene.

 

“Trash me, crash me, beat me till I fall

I want to be a victim for you all.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogypBUCb7DA

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