God Save The Queen

It’s 40 years since the release of the Sex Pistols’ Nihilist Anthem

The Sex Pistols were perhaps more purely punk than any other band of the era. The angry politics of the Clash offered at least some hope that, with a fight, social change was possible: Are you taking over, or are you taking orders? But for the Pistols, politics was pointless. While Weller sang “What’s the point in saying destroy?”, Lydon’s nihilism sunk to depths that other so-called punks barely touched upon: No future for me, no future for you.

But we all know now it was just a great rock’n’roll swindle. All manufactured. The Pistols weren’t genuine at all. And no surprise that Her Majesty has long outlived the ephemeral teenage rebellion. It seems surreal that the Clash were accused of “selling out” when they signed to CBS, but that Lydon now advertises butter and we all just chuckle. I suppose the crushing realisation that it was all a sham is an integral part of the nihilistic, Situationist International art installation that punk was. As was foretold, all came to nothing. We really are the flowers in the dustbin.

But those opening chords. More power than any other record before or since.