Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

One of my goals in 2017 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here

Through many years and many roommates it seems I've always had a copy of this book. Not sure who or where this one came from, but it finally came time to read Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. 


I came to punk rock music later in life, but I quickly fell in love. To me, punk is like the blues in that it gives release from the nature of feelings it invokes. Blues expresses your sadness, allowing you to let it go and punk does the same for anger and injustice, isolation and self doubt. I tend towards later, more arty punk, most notably The Minutemen, which this book doesn't even touch upon. Please Kill Me delivers only a slice of punk biased by the author's particular view of the music and the scene. But that's ok, too. 

From interviews with various leaders in the punk scene in the late 60s, throughout the 70s and into the 80s, Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk weaves a story known to few, lived by less, but influential to all. 

It's amazing to think that Elvis, Libarace, Miles Davis and Iggy Pop, all lived in the same time period and their astoundingly different music was around at the same time. This book is a fascinating look at how influential punk was and how it shaped a music era unlike any other, all though the player's own words. Oral histories can be difficult to keep track of and this one falls into that category. With dozens of characters, and no clear linear narrative, this book can be hard to grasp. It has a glossary of it's rogue gallery, but unless you already know these characters it's easy to get confused. It also deals a lot with the gossip and relationship between punk's forerunners, and that often overshadows the impact and ramifications of punk on the world. Having some knowledge of the punk scene is recommended before starting this book. Those new to punk might want to check out the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, or several documentaries on the subject before diving into this book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in punk rock and those who like any of the bands mentioned in the book; Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, MC5, The Sex Pistols plus many more are the obvious groups, but Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Miles Davis also apply. I'd also recommend this book to music lovers in general. But be warned, drugs, sex and rock and roll do apply and this book is often gross and graphic. Overall, Please Kill Me is a fast paced and easy read with an unique historic relevance. 

What are your favorite books on music?