Television – “Marquee Moon”
[Marquee Moon – 1977]
By 1977, punk rock had become mainstream and started to lose some of its sneer. Then a handful of Delaware guys took it to a whole different place and changed the course of rock history.
Tom Verlaine (born Thomas Miller in Denville, New Jersey) moved to Wilmington at age six and met future bandmate and punk icon Richard Lester Meyers, aka Richard Hell, at Sanford School before escaping to New York. . Wilmington drummer Billy Ficca joined them later.
After some initial positive buzz, their group Television has become a staple of CBGBs in lower Manhattan, alongside actors like the Ramones, Blondie, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith.
But Television’s 1977 album Moon marquee had nothing to do with the square, simple brand of punk that most were used to. Verlaine and his comrades function more like a string quartet than a punk band, weaving together tight, edgy guitar rhythms and counter melodies that sort of connect like puzzle pieces. Today it is hailed as a masterpiece and an important musical bridge between punk and new wave.
The main song is an epic of almost 11 minutes which improves as it goes. All ragged and brooding, Verlaine laments the ominous darkness that doubles and lightning strikes itself – between long guitar interludes.
It’s a song that was so far ahead of its time that people are still trying to understand it, much like the avant-garde state that incubated its creators.