Did a Punk Band Take The Lyrics to a Song From a Girl Dancer Comic?

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The Damned's song, "Melody Lee" took its lyrics from a British girls comic by the same name.


I'm Going False

Reader Robert S. wrote in to ask, "In 1979 The Damned released "Machine Gun Etiquette" with a song entitled "Melody Lee". It is a pioneering punk masterpiece.I heard back then that the song was inspired by a comic book. That's all I know. Please advise me of any info you come across."

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Robert is referencing the classic punk band song, "Melody Lee," from The Damned, who are memorable for being the first British punk band to release a single, the first one to release an album and the first band to tour the United States. Amusingly enough, they were also the first British punk band to reunite. Their "reunion" album, Machine Gun Etiquette, had the song on it...

Here are the lyrics according to Google's lyrics...

Melody Lee, a broken mind and a broken dreamA burst of speed, a change of heartYour life was cruel they called it art

Melody Lee, you need a mirror to set you freeYou know you can't cheat tomorrowIf you hide it'll end in sorrow

Melody Lee, you gotta find your secret enemyYou're on the run with nowhere to goIf you die there's no-one to know

Forget your heart, you need not stayA second longer than today

Melody Lee, a broken mind and a broken dreamA burst of speed, a change of heartYour life was cruel they called it art

There was a comic book series pitched for girls called Bunty...

From Bunty #1030 (October 1977) to #1067 (June 1978), there was a featured called "Melody Lee- A Dancer She’ll Be," about an orphan girl who tries to make it as a dancer.

The lead guitarist on the song, Captain Sensible, claimed in the 25th anniversary of the album that, "I'm surprised I got away with that one. I took the lyrics straight from Bunty comic. Melody Lee was a character, it was 'Melody Lee a dancer she shall be'. She's being trained by a failed ballerina who was scarred in an accident. All the lyrics came straight from the speech bubble in the cartoon strip."

On a British comics messageboard, a reader named Phoenix claimed to have read 37 of the 38 installments and did not see any actual lyrics taken from the comics. Either way, it seems pretty clear from the above lyrics that the song is talking ABOUT the character and not actually taking the lyrics from the comic itself. Other bands did that at the time, but I don't buy it in this case at all.

But the song clearly IS generally inspired by the comic strip, "Melody Lee," so there ya go, Robert!

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