Johnny Rotten sang/sneered the scabrous lyrics in 1977 or thereabouts:
Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future, no future
No future for you
Well, it took 33 years, but it turned out to be true for the guy who midwifed the Sex Pistols and punk rock generally, Malcolm McLaren, who died yesterday at the age of 64.
There was always something amusing about what McLaren was doing with the Sex Pistols. The whole idea of prepackaged anarchy as a marketing strategy is a little bizarre. You can pretty much sell anything, I guess, but the audacity of McLaren was noteworthy.
The Sex Pistols didn't really permeate my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin in 1977. You heard a few rumblings about punk here and there, but I really didn't get to take the whole punk rock thing in until my college years. By then the music was second hand and had been co-opted into the larger music business. Well, that was what I believed at the time.
Nearly 35 years on, it looks different. It's pretty clear that what seemed so fresh to me, and so menacing to others, was second hand from the start. McLaren wasn't really much more than a rag merchant who figured out a new way to market his product. But it was fun while it lasted.