LGBT History 101

Here Is Every Song Performed In The “CBGB” Movie

debbie-harryIf you didn’t see the film CBGB when it was in theaters, and you probably didn’t because virtually nobody did, it is playing this month on the Starz network. Watch it!

Not really a movie as much as it is an educational video with awesome music, CBGB lays out the story of how a down-and-out businessman, Hilly Kristal, turned a filthy bar in not-yet-gentrified NYC into the genesis of punk rock, as well as one of the greatest incubators for popular music in American history.

People usually associate punk music with being loud and angry, but at its roots it was less about screaming and more about simply having something to say, performed by “punk” kids who didn’t try to fit into what popular music was supposed to sound like. Among the thousands of bands to perform at CBGB, one of the biggest was Blondie, who got their start as regulars at the club where they were nurtured by Kristal. In the time between performing on CBGB’s stinky little stage in the 1970s, and making guest appearances at LGBT pride festivals today, Blondie rose to international fame with songs like “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me” and sold 40 million albums. Of course, this was back when bands still worried about selling “albums.” Times change. But the music of Blondie, and other CBGB bands like The Ramones, The Police, and Talking Heads, will live forever. The B-52’s played at CBGB. Madonna played at CBGB.

CBGB, the movie, is a crash course in punk music history. Although the script is a bit boring with lots of blah blah blah, the best moments are the on-stage performances, with delicious lip sync portrayals of singers like gay icon Debbie Harry (above) and pan-sexual Iggy Pop. If nothing else, it is worth watching to see Rupert Grint, a.k.a. Ron Weasley from “Harry Potter,” play the part of a punk rocker who performs oral sex on a beer bottle.

For those who don’t feel like sitting through the movie’s dialogue, we have collected the best bits — the music segments — in videos below. These aren’t the movie clips; they are the actual songs featured in the movie, as a testament to CBGB and how it changed music for the better.

Television, “Careful”

Television, “Marquee Moon”

Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”


Patti Smith Group, “Because The Night”


Joey Ramone, “I Got Knocked Down”


Blondie, “X Offender”


Blondie, “Denis”


Blondie, “Sunday Girl”


The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”


Dead Boys, “Ain’t Nothin’ To Do”

Dead Boys, “I Need Lunch”


The Police, “Roxanne”

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  • Mezaien

    How can I forget these three great performers.
    1. The Police, “Roxanne”.
    2. Patti Smith Group, “Because The Night.
    3. The Stooges,“I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

  • Wilberforce

    I saw most of these acts, although not at CBGB. That was before my time. Ramones Rule. And I’ll never forget when the Stop Making Sense came out, and we danced in the isles in a movie theater in SF.

  • mgmchicago

    My brush with greatness (yeah we all got one):

    Ramones and Runaways were becoming popular in our little college town (Carbondale, IL.)
    Four of us went to see the Ramones (opening act The Runaways) in 1977 in a small club in St Louis.
    Guess they were not popular there yet, there were only about 100 people in the club.
    Both acts put on a great show and we watched from very close to the 2′ high stage.

    Followed the tour vans back to their cheap motel after the show. Knocked on their room door and talked with drummer Sandy West. She agreed to go clubbing with us and invited one of the Ramones to come with us (can’t remember which one.) Took them to a gay disco in East St Louis called Faces, drank and danced to disco (!) for a coupla’ hours. Went to Denny’s after for food and then took them back to the motel. Everyone was cool and we had a regular ‘ol fun club nite. Still have the Runaway’s album “Queens of Noise” signed by West.

  • Kangol


    So true. I loved these songs as a kid.

    I’m also glad I caught CBGBs at its tail end, not too long before it closed.

    A waystation of genius that place was. The luxury stores and high-rent condos that have engulfed that area, not so much.

  • boring

    I was going to roll my eyes and make a jerk-off hand motion when I read the headline, but starting it all off with Television = Legit.

    Good post, Queertzys.

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