John Lydon on why Bruce Springsteen’s music “really boring”

John lydon

John Lydon has criticised, mocked, and discredited a great deal of artists since he first came to prominence in 1975 as Johnny Rotten, the leader of the Sex Pistols. In 1988, Bruce Springsteen was the target of Lydon’s criticism, as the vocal frontman never fails to express his opinions.

Lydon had no trouble with controversy when he was a member of the Sex Pistols. It seemed like Johnny Rotten had it all figured out. A banned number one single, postponed tour dates, and a scandal that led to him cursing on national television. John Lydon became determined to maintain his image as the most irate man in music after founding the groundbreaking post-punk group Public Image Ltd.

Lydon’s wrath has been directed towards everyone over the years, including his own bandmates from Sex Pistols and Donna Summer. Anger is an Energy, his autobiography from 2014, is essentially a list of musicians he hates, interspersed with tidbits about his writing process for “God Save the Queen” and his decision to promote butter. The frontman’s decades-long tirade against any musician who isn’t him has produced some notable moments. He has called Marky Ramone a “daft c*nt,” referred to Courtney Love as “a cheap fake”. And boldly stated that he “gave Joe Strummer a career when he was a tosspot.”

Lydon has used every chance to disparage his peers, whether it be on stage, in magazine interviews, or on television. His target in 1988 was Bruce Springsteen, the legendary American rock musician, during an appearance on ITV’s “Video View”. Dennis Morris, the photographer, and the frontman of PiL were supposed to discuss their opinions on the day’s music videos during the performance. Those videos included one for the John Illsley song “I Want to See the Moon,” along with a cringe-worthy segment. There Lydon talks about Kyle Minogue’s chest.

It should come as no surprise that Morris and Lydon didn’t like the Dire Straits guitarist’s song. It is generic rock from the late 1980s, hardly very inventive. The couple said they liked the moon shots in the video, but overall it “felt like adverts, clothes adverts” after watching it.

Lydon declared, “I don’t like that Bruce Springsteen type of noise” in reference to the song itself.

He goes on, “I just find it really boring”. Even though he might be giving the song too much artistic credit by comparing it to Springsteen. When they’re just reciting a trite tale that piques your curiosity, you know.

Though it is not particularly surprising, Lydon’s apparent distaste for story-based songs does write off a lot of important folk and blues music, without which rock ‘n’ roll and, consequently, punk music would not have occurred. Short, sharp, and confrontational lyrics are constantly chose by the frontman of Sex Pistols and PiL over anything very narrative.

His criticism of Springsteen as “really boring,” though, may have some merit. He once related on the New York radio that Springsteen had once attended a performance by Lydon and had left out of offence when the frontman joked on stage. While there is debate over the story of Springsteen storming out of his gig. Like many of Lydon’s tales, the frontman’s opinions about the banal nature of storytelling music do not change.

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