Ungdomshuset’s Microphone

The House of the People was built in 1898
In Danish that’s Folkets Huset, it was a union hall first rate
In the 1970’s it fell into disrepair
And in ’82 it got squatted by kids with spiky hair
It became a punk rock social center and leftwing to the core
Since I came to Copenhagen I did shows there by the score
But the first time that I played there I was nearly felled
By the most disgusting microphone I have ever smelled
As I approached the mike stand and took in a deep breath
I was overpowered by the rotting stench of death
I managed to recover and make it through the set
But if there’s a stinkier mike than that one I haven’t smelled it yet

Between anarchists and government it’s not an easy dance
And when a Christian sect bought Ungdomshuset the state jumped at the chance
The cops landed on the roof in the middle of the night
Filled the place with tear gas and geared up for a fight
Masked workers came from Poland, they were taken to that spot
And guarded by police they then destroyed the squat
But as the smoke was rising I thought well, at least
That really stinky microphone would be thankfully deceased
And as the smoke was rising I thought about those nights
A room packed full of nose rings glittering in the lights
Everybody smoking all kinds of different things
And the stinkiest mike through which I’ve ever tried to sing

There were weekly demonstrations with kids about to lose it
They said the government took our building, give us a new Ungdomshuset
There were protests, there were riots, there were burning barricades
There were politicians looking on at the mess they’d made
Thirty squatters were in prison and when I was back in town
We went there to visit at the edge of Kobenhavn
I got on the sound truck and I began to strum
And I was suddenly accosted by the smell of someone’s bum
It was then I realized without a single doubt
That microphone had been rescued, someone had gotten it out
Here it was before me, a reminder of the past
(Before cops in helicopters came and filled the place with gas)

After quite a lot of struggle the kids got another squat
And the punks are back in Denmark whether you like it or not
It’s a movement that inspired folks wherever they may be
For example in Malmö, just across the Baltic Sea
Where someone opened a museum to recall struggles far and near
Where sitting on a shelf, I observed with cheer
A thing so noxious and repulsive that it took my breath away
The world’s most offensive microphone was now Exhibit A
That mike had been retired and was now beyond rebuke
After years of service amid the cigarettes and puke
And it should surely have a place, perhaps you feel the same
If someday someone opens the Punk Rock Hall of Fame

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“Ungdomshuset’s Microphone” appears on the Bandcamp album, Ten New Songs (2011).

The old Ungdomshuset was a favorite place for me to visit and to do gigs from around 2001-2007.  After the squat was destroyed by the police, the movement supporting the youth’s demand that the city of Copenahgen provide them with a new building was amazing to be a small part of, during my various visits to Denmark in the course of this movement’s 16 months of weekly marches.  The movement succeeded in getting a nice new building from the city, which has been a great place since it came into existence, though very different from the old building, with a youth movement that is different from what it was.  Largely because the struggle for a new Ungdomshuset was so successful, and attracted such a wide spectrum of Danish (and other) people — not just the old black-clad punks anymore.