The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder: Punk & New Wave
March 7, 2006
The Tomorrow Show first aired on NBC in October 1973 in the late night time slot after The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and lasted until January 1982. In that time, Snyder had a number of musicians from the Punk and New Wave scenes on his show. As a host, he was hopelessly square and clueless when it came to interacting with these people but God love him he really tried to understand where they were coming from and what made Punk Rock music work. Looking back now, the roster of acts he had on – Iggy Pop, the Plasmatics and the Ramones – would never have been on any other national talk show (except maybe The Mike Douglas Show and even then).
This new 2-DVD set features eight episodes from Snyder’s entire run and kicks things off, rather appropriately, with a roundtable discussion that tries to define what exactly Punk music is with the likes of concert promoter Bill Graham, Runaways manager Kim Fowley, music critic Robert Hilburn, and musicians Joan Jett and Paul Weller. They discuss the validity of Punk and New Wave music and define its traits with Fowley coming off as a pretentious wanker.
On February 12, 1981, Snyder had Iggy Pop on his show. Iggy tears it up with three songs, “Dog Food”, “Five Foot One” and “TV Eye,” flailing around in his trademark fashion. He actually sits down with Snyder (something that rarely happens on talk shows now) sporting a missing tooth and a bloody nose. He’s his usual enthusiastic self, cracking jokes and speaking quite intelligently about his music. He and Snyder have a really good conversation about the confrontational nature of Punk Rock as the talk show host tries to understand Iggy’s aggressive stage presence.
On May 11, 1978, Snyder had Patti Smith on and she immediately gushes about seeing Johnny Carson in the parking lot. She comes off as a charming, smart lady who talks about the knowledge gained from taking risks and why Little Richard is one of her heroes.
Arguably the highlight of the entire set is the June 25, 1980 episode with a post-Sex Pistols John Lydon now with Public Image Limited. Lydon does not disappoint, being his usual sarcastic, snarky self, much to Snyder’s chagrin. As anyone who’s seen Lydon in action, he’s a tough interview even under the best of circumstances. He repeatedly describes PIL as a “communications company” and calls rock ‘n’ roll a “disease” and “something played at airports.” Lydon even manages to frustrate the usually unflappable Snyder.
The two-disc set ends, rather fittingly, with the most enduring punk band, The Ramones who appeared on September 1, 1981. The crowd was packed with their enthusiastic fans as they rip through “We Want the Airwaves”, “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “The KKK Took My Baby Away.” They are as tight as ever and sound great. The band sits down for an interview and are their usual irreverent selves, slamming bands like Styx for “pushing mediocrity on the public.”
These episodes are fascinating snap shots of another time, like when it was fashionable to smoke on camera. Snyder always seems to have a cigarette in his hand and even gives John Lydon a smoke in an attempt to gain his trust. It is something you would never see today. This 2-DVD set is worth picking up for fans of any these bands/musicians and provides a fascinating glimpse into the mainstream cultures attempt to understand this music.