How political pop punk taught me about P.G. Wodehouse

Posted by Jason Diamond

Fifteen years ago this week I attained my drivers license, and then took my first solo drive to a record store so I could purchase Less Talk, More Rock by the Canadian pop punk band Propagandhi. Among songs titled “Nailing Descartes to the Wall/(Liquid) Meat Is Still Murder” and a bunch of lyrics decrying everything from sexism to homophobia, there was a line from the least-political song on the album, “Anchorless,” that really stuck with me more than almost anything else on the album:

“I’ve got an armchair from your family home. Got your P.G. Wodehouse novels and your telephone.”

Please keep in mind that Propagandhi’s first LP, How to Clean Everything, was something of a political awakening for my teenage mind, and I directly thank them and a handful of other P.C./anarchist bands for making me realize that calling things “gay” wasn’t as cool as I thought it was when I was 14.  In comparison, Less Talk was actually a much more in your face affair, which took on everybody from Nazis to big oil companies, and really made the listener want to go out and free a bunch of primates from some university laboratory.  All that, and it persuaded young minds to seek out P.G. Wodehouse novels, probably thinking that they were stories about killing fascists and smashing corporations.

Obviously I found pretty much the exact opposite when I purchased a few Wodehouse books from a local Salvation Army a few weeks later, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless, and I ended up developed an interest in Wodehouse’s writings alongside my lust for smashing the state (even thought I had no idea what it meant to do that).

Anybody else have any stories about bands, records, or songs that helped them find new stuff to read?


  1. My whole intro to Literature — Blake, Rimbaud, Satre, Camus, Nietzsche, Kerouac, etc. — came via the Doors (and “No One Here Gets Out Alive”). Maybe that’s cliche at this point, but it doesn’t matter to me. I was in 8th grade. Dylan turned me on to the Beats. It was all over after that.

  2. I hear that a lot about The Doors. I think I cared abut a lot of those writers because Patti Smith and a bunch of the NY punks talked about them. Some of their tastes were probably influenced by Morrison.

  3. Yeah, an ex-gf is really into Patti Smith. I’ve never been into her music much. I know in some circles (like my ex’s!), that’s blasphemy. I’m sure there’s a connect between Smith and the early punk scene and Morrison, who some say, along w/ or just before Iggy, was the first punk. I love those connects.

  4. Wow. I haven’t thought of the band The Shipping News in YEARS. Going to go dig them up right now.