At decision points in my life, I often ask: What would Mike Watt do? Watt was the bass player for the minutemen and firehose, and more recently the Stooges. He's also a prodigious songwriter. This is scientist rock.
And his songs and philosophy affected me in a profound way. They were the epitome of independence. The D-I-Y ethos the minutemen pioneered would become the defining characteristic of punk and indie music. The way the minutemen slipped seamlessly from one style to another, song-to-song, shattered preconceptions about genre (especially at a time when hardcore was very stylistically constrained). "Punk is whatever we made it to be" doesn't just have to apply to music. It's a philosophy that says you can do whatever you set your mind to doing. You don't have to follow preconceived notions, or follow in the paths forged by others. It is a hacker mindset. It is geek-forward.
No song speaks that more than History Lesson Part II. This is the song that gave the title to Michael Azerrad's book, Our Band Could Be Your Life. And Watt's proclamation at the end of this clip is not only a motto, but also the title of a documentary on the band.
Given d. boon's untimely death in 1985 at the age of 27, it is also a heartbreaking testament to friendship.