Bonus Material: Punker Goes Soft for Houellebecq

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

by Edward Nawotka

PARIS: Throughout much of the summer of 1995, legendary punk musician Iggy Pop and I frequented the same coffee shop in Dublin, Ireland. He’d show up at odd times — sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes for Sunday brunch, usually with a beautiful companion and, if not, with a book.  It was an incongruous sight to see world-worn Pop sitting there sipping a cappuccino and reading.

Still, he still he had his brushes with literati — it was his song “Lust for Life” — that anchored the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting.” (And has, sadly, been co-opted for commercials for Carnival Cruises.)

Now comes the news that Pop has just released a new album called “Preliminaires,” which was itself originally composed to accompany a documentary about efforts to turn French literary provocateur Michel Houellebecq’s novel “The Possibility of an Island” into a film.

It’s not quite clear to me how the songs reflect Houellebecq’s hyper-sexual, radically perverse (and many say, racist) worldview. The tone throughout is rather mellow and a number of the songs are performed in a jazz style that makes them sound an awful lot like ones by Leonard Cohen.

Pop even delivers “Les Feuilles Mortes,” a song originally written by the surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, en français.


Is it poetry or merely pretentious? I think he should have stuck with the punk. It certainly would have been a more appropriate match for Houellebecq’s nihilism.

VISIT: The album’s Web site for more videos and news.

LISTEN: To Pop discussing the record.

READ: An interview with Pop.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.