There once was a time when the biggest punk band in the world could put out a record drawing influences from reggae, blues and Chuck Berry which would be hallowed by many as the greatest punk rock album of all time.
It's been a long time since the Clash released their legendary album London Calling, and even longer in terms of musical evolution - or de-evolution - since that principal accomplishment. 28 years, however, is only a generation's length; have Joe Strummer and Mick Jones taught their children so poorly?
In short, what passes today as punk rock bares little resemblance to the origin of the twisted genre; hard rock's uglier, bitterer younger brother. In this crucial span, the genre has more closely come to embody that which punk music so deftly fought against: the homogeny and standardization of popular culture, particularly that of America. If the high school hard rockers were the ones spiking the juice at prom and scalping Deep Purple tickets, the punks were setting fires and starting riots. Sadly, punk's new definitions consist of lots of eye-liner and cracked, semi-pubescent voices whining laments about love lost.
Both punk rock and the hippy movement are rooted in the same fundamental ideals: individuality and rebellion from the common standard. Punks, though, were more actively intent on accomplishing their goals. The genre was more of an attitude than a style - fringe artists like Iggy Pop or Television could appropriately fall under the category. That embracing mentality has currently reversed. If a dejected teen dresses in black and silver chains because he gets made fun of by the polo-wearing Hollister regulars at school, then Mr. Hollister would feel equally rejected had he stumbled into a Misfits concert. What began as a melting pot of styles and personalities has now converged into a neat, tidy little clique no better or worse than the collar poppers.
The biggest problem is what's on the horizon. Where are the artists to save punk music - some say it's already dead - from complete and utter assimilation? Avril Lavigne? Heavy metal has Mastodon, the blues have Jack White and John Mayer, but punk, more than any other offshoot of rock, is in desperate need of a miracle worker. If global unrest is the key ingredient in honest, raw punk, the landscape is indeed fertile. To whomever plants the first seed: There are a lot of us waiting for the harvest.