Anger is an Energy – John Lydon

This is an autobiography of John Lydon, also known to many as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

I will admit to being hugely influenced by punk whilst not really being old enough to be a proper punk.  I will also admit to enjoying the music of the Sex Pistols; I love the raw energy of the music and Anarchy is one of the tracks on my running playlist.

John Lydon must be one of the most interesting characters in the music business.  He always has something to say and, whilst I often don’t agree with what he says, I admire him for his conviction.

I was expecting this book to reflect the anger and energy Lydon often shows in public.  What I got was something that didn’t quite achieve those heights.

What surprised me most of all was how ordinary and conventional a lot of Lydon’s life has been and is.  Given the Pistol’s image it is almost shocking to find their frontman a happily married man!  And up to the age of 7 he had an ordinary, if poor, upbringing.

I found the part about Lydon’s fight with spinal meningitis eye opening.  It isn’t something I know much about and I can’t image how horrific it must be to experience such an illness.  And illness seems such a mild term for such a vicious thing.  I think understanding that essentially John Lydon, as we see him now, only began life aged 7 after his memory was wiped by meningitis.  I can almost imagine how terrifying it must be trying to cling on to what you are now learning to make sure you don’t lose it all again.  I can imagine how that would propel you into wanting to learn and learn and learn; to fill the blanks and to create new memories.  I think it puts Lydon into context and makes some of the incomprehensible visible.

I think this book is an odd mix of the really interesting and the really dull.  It took me ages to read it because there were parts that just didn’t really interest me; the extraneous detail you tend to get in autobiographies that would be covered in less detail in a biography.  Other parts of the book wiz along, giving a good Johnny Rotten/John Lydon-centric view of life in the Sex Pistols and PiL.

Overall, I’m pleased I read this book.  I enjoyed finding out more about John Lydon the person behind the Johnny Rotten and John Lydon-frontman personas.  Would I recommend it?  Yes, as long you have patience to get through some dull bits and someone to sound off at when Lydon goes off on one of his rants!

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