Hailing from the New York punk scene of the mid-seventies, Television are everything that punk is not. Indeed, their ’77 debut Marquee Moon and its title track proves they had much greater ambitions than many of their punk contemporaries.
While much of punk was characterized by simple instrumentation with many groups having only a basic knowledge of how to play their instruments, Television stood out from the crowd by having a greater degree of skill. Nothing proves this more than “Marquee Moon,” an ambitious epic that comes in at just over ten minutes. Influenced by both rock and jazz, the song is a highly technical affair when compared to other punk songs and features two guitar solos (the latter of which comprises most of the back half of the track).
Lyrically, the track is densely packed with metaphors, many of them providing insights into lyricist Tom Verlaine’s outlook on life and his feelings of alienation towards urban living. While other punk groups were more interested in politics – most big U.K. groups at the time – or just having fun – the Ramones – Television were already turning an eye onto the difficulties of life itself and crafting a vastly more complex version of punk. In this regard, Television could be considered an early post punk group in their early tackling of more difficult, complicated themes through a punk sound.
Ultimately, the ambition of “Marquee Moon” did not prove to be wasted as it, along with the rest of Marquee Moon, helped establish Television’s place as an early innovator of post punk.
Listen to the track here.