Death Disco

Album: Metal Box (1979)
Charted: 20
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Songfacts®:

  • John Lydon appeared on the BBC Breakfast news programme, July 7, 2010. After discussing his song "Religion," he was asked by interviewer Sian Williams: "Your Mum was Catholic, wasn't she?" at which a look of pain came over his face, and his voice was filled with bitterness as he replied: "They treated 'er very badly; they wouldn't give 'er [the] last rites when she died of cancer in the hospital, so we 'ave a really bad, negative view, our family, of the Catholic Church."

    Alluding to "Death Disco", she continued: "You wrote actually a very raw, intense, emotional song about your mother's death."

    He responded: "You could call it shout therapy... Sometimes words aren't enough to express your emotions; and you need the music combined."

    Lydon's mother died in 1978, shortly after her son's first fifteen minutes of fame with the Sex Pistols, but when he was still young, and both her death and the manner of her death obviously had a profound effect on him.

    Four years before the Breakfast interview, in an April 22, 2006 interview with the Daily Mail supplement Weekend Magazine, he spoke about her candidly. A woman named Janet Small had recently come forward and claimed she was his elder half-sister. Lydon's reaction was both skeptical and cool: "My mother was the closest person to me on earth, and if anything at all like that had happened, she would have told me."

    He said too: "I have this strange woman who's claiming to be my half-sister and the implication is that my mother was a trollop who slept around before she married my dad, which isn't nice."
  • Although "Dance Disco" is an original song, it opens with uptempo strains from Tchaikovsky's main Swan Lake Theme. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • Lydon actually wrote this for his mother when she was still alive as she'd asked him to write a song for her before she passed away.
  • Regarding performing a song on stage about the death of his mother, Lydon told Mojo magazine May 2014: "It's the hardest thing to do, to be honest with yourself and to howl your way through a song like that on stage."
  • For Lydon, the song encompasses the certainty of death and the uncertainty of an afterlife. He told The AV Club in 2015: "To this day, it's very hard for me to conceive of people dying. I don't know if there's a heaven. There's no evidence of such. There's just people's opinions. Even our worst enemies, we say if they die, 'I miss their space on earth.' So it involves much more than just a trite little song."

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