Monday, June 07, 2010

"God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols

In that same week of 1977 when most of Britain was celebrating the Silver Jubilee, the minority who were not were busy nicking the Sex Pistols' anti-anthem God Save the Queen (originally entitled No Future) from those few shops that were stocking it. In fact, it has always been rumoured that the record sold enough copies to qualify for that week's #1 spot, but was held to #2 for political reasons*. Bass player Sid Vicious joined the group shortly before the recording of this song - replacing Glen Matlock, who was said to be "too nice" - making this one of only two Sex Pistols singles on which Vicious played.

In later years, Johnny Rotten defended the song as a nationalist anthem, going so far as to say that it wasn't about the Queen at all, but about the system she embodies; despite the song's supposed working class values, the working classes in Britain have always been strongly monarchist, with the majority of republican sentiment since the time of Queen Victoria coming from the middle classes. Rotten, careful not to jeopardize his street cred, has always been very delicate when discussing this particular tune, going so far as to allude to his empathy for the Queen as well as his desire to liberate her from what is, in his perspective, a stultifying life.

*The week's official #1 song was the far-less controversial double A-side The First Cut Is the Deepest / I Don't Want To Talk About It, by Rod Stewart.

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