Great spoken introductions of our time. Part the 1st: “Motor City is Burning” by MC5

Folk Album of the year, 1969.

Folk Album of the year, 1969.

The Album: Kick Out the Jams.

The Speaker: Rob Tyner.

The Time: 1968.

The Words:

Brothers and sisters, I want to tell you something.

I hear a lotta TALK, by a lotta HONKIES, sittin on a lotta MONEY, tellin ME they’re high society.

But I’ll let you know something.


Cultural Impact:

Less well-know than the infamous first line of the album (possibly still the single rockingest statement ever made by anyone not John Wayne, BB King or Joe Frazier), the introduction to this song, part hymn to urban destruction, part brilliantly/appallingly lazy blues cover, establishes its true epochal significance in the following key ways:

1. The “High Society” pun.

As a perfect example of late sixties/ early seventies political rhetoric, beautifully living up to the Evangelical fervour/political cunning of its delivery only to those who have spent the past five years experimenting with the human capacity to get stoned.

Because, you see, “High” is for stoned as well, you see.

2. The “Honky” reference

Combining seamlessly with point 1. to deliver a one two-punch of American Beserk dialogue that will – surely – never be surpassed outside the reels of The Warriors or Fort Apache: the Bronx, this is also the only extant recorded instance of a white man referring to “Honkies” with no irony whatsoever.  Made possible only by the fact that Tyner looked like no honky ever had since the move to agrarian culture:

Rob Tyner - No Honky.

Rob Tyner - No Honky.

it also immediately secured the MC5 the right to set up The White Panthers ( which they did, much to Huey P Newton‘s surprise, in that year).

3. Suggested Association of MC5 with Honkies

The implication – that Tyner, Fred “Sonic” Smith, et al had actually been present at any social occasion featuring either really honky Honkies  or  anyone referring to themselves as “High Society” since they were teenagers – is simply so mind-bending in and of itself that the unprepared listener can often find themselves in a reverie clear into the last chorus of Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Ramalama Fa Fa Fa), more than ten minutes later.

The identity of said Honkies (often suspected to be David Niven and Audrey Hepburn), has never been confirmed.


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