I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography

Richard Hell

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0062190849

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From an early age, Richard Hell dreamed of running away. He arrived penniless in New York City at seventeen; ten years later he was a pivotal voice of the age of punk, cofounding such seminal bands as Television, The Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids—whose song "Blank Generation" remains the defining anthem of the era, an era that would forever alter popular culture in all its forms. How this legendary downtown artist went from a bucolic childhood in the idyllic Kentucky foothills to igniting a movement that would take over New York and London's restless youth culture—cementing CBGB as the ground zero of punk and spawning the careers of not only Hell himself, but a cohort of friends such as Tom Verlaine, Patti Smith, the Ramones, and Debby Harry—is a mesmerizing chronicle of self-invention, and of Hell's yearning for redemption through poetry, music, and art. An acutely rendered, unforgettable coming-of-age story, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp evokes with feeling, lyricism, and piercing intelligence both the world that shaped him and the world he shaped.

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despised each other a little. Then there was the unspoken competition going on. This is a particular, atypical type of friendship, but I don’t think it’s unusual among young artists, at least among egotistical ambitious young artists. It was in this time, 1971 through 1975, that we settled into the bookstore jobs, the last series of day jobs we would have before becoming professional musicians. Tom had an interesting one for a while with a dealer of books that were translations into English.

solo: Why you gotta be so hard on love?? Four beat silence, drums kick it off and another verse starts up. All over in three and a half minutes. They looked so vulnerable and so cold at the same time I wondered how they’d lived long enough to get here. Their lyrics were also a lot of things at once. Full of little designs. Sometimes funny or dirty or romantic, often psychotic. Some lines: “We’ll steer by the stars in our high heeled cars” (High Heel Wheels), “My horse run away, my hennypennies

attention distracted from himself. The last straw came when Virgin records asked for a demo recording of the band, to be produced by Brian Eno. Out of six songs to be recorded, Tom would play only one of mine, “Blank Generation,” and he performed it like a novelty song. In early 1975, Malcolm invited us to open for the Commie red-leather Dolls at the Little Hippodrome ballroom in midtown, in what would turn out to be the full Dolls’ last New York show, on February 28, 1975. It was also one of my

out, he’d do a lot I didn’t have the wherewithal to dream of yet. Quine was an angry guy and the anger came from his being maltreated and dismissed by morons and thugs and tight-assed social conservatives, including his parents, for his whole life. His family was well-off and educated but straight. He never had anything nice to say about them. He’d been traumatized by the way he’d been a favorite object of maliciousness at boarding school, according to him. Doubtless that helped develop his

any interest arose. I didn’t know her in love. We would do drugs and have sex and laugh and talk. I understand one of her most intense, obsessed New York affairs was with a man who perpetrated very rough sex. She was said to love him. She eventually married a wonderful, sweet, perfect Cookie-partner of an excitable, mystical, extremely handsome Italian artiste named Vittorio, and they accepted heroin addiction together. That fall—on Saturday, October 28, 1978—we played a show at CBGB that was

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