Directed by Simon Taylor. From Free, out now on Loma Vista.
I wonder if Iggy Pop was inspired by a recent episode of “Jeopardy” in which all three of the contestants tried and failed to remember the exact wording of the first line of this Dylan Thomas villanelle. Probably not, but who knows? This reading comes from Ig’s 2019 album, Free.
It’s a classic poem about getting old and kicking the bucket, and the older you get the more powerfully it speaks to you.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I think I first heard it via an inappropriately jaunty version by fellow Welshman John Cale that my homie PLP was prone to including on mixtapes for a while there in the beginning of the 90s. Maybe I read it in school before that but I doubt it. We didn’t cover a lot of poetry in my suburban Michigan high school. The Cale version is goofy yet still pretentious enough to ruin the vibe of any mixtape.
Iggy’s version is appropriately morbid and defiant. It’s also helped by its brevity, under two minutes long.
Dylan Thomas died in 1953 at 39. He drank himself to death. So he never even got to see the old age he wrote so eloquently about.
From Words for the Dying (Warner Bros, 1989).
From Dylan Thomas Reading His Complete Recorded Poetry (Caedmon, 1963).