Roctogenerian Punker Put Everyone Under The Age Of 79 To Shame

Brian Raftery | December 28, 2006 10:29 am

Today’s New York Times eulogizes Joseph Bernard Zak, the lead singer and songwriter for the NYC punk band Team Spider. Zak died earlier this month at the age of 80, leaving behind a résumé that’s one part Jello Biafra, one part Richie Tenenbaum:

In his 80 years, Joseph Bernard Zak served in the Navy during World War II, studied to be a Franciscan priest and worked as a teacher and a doorman. He also wrote tens of thousands of lyrics, moving to Nashville at one point to try to sell his songs.

He never made it in country music, but Mr. Zak had an unlikely second career in song — after his 70th birthday, he became a lyricist and occasional singer for a punk rock band on the Lower East Side called Team Spider…

[Zak] recorded hundreds of songs with the band members, although not all were released. He traveled with them by van or jet to perform in places like Stewartstown, Pa., and Park City, Utah.

His lyrics were terse and declarative, sometimes resembling beat haikus. They ranged from the elegiac (“No matter that all lyrics stall / Know that this is true / Matters that love’s epic is true / Know that I love you, know that I love you,” from the song “Know That I Love You”) to the bombastic (“Bush, Bush, Bush / Bum, bum, bum / Bombed, bombed, bombed / The Constitution,” from the song “Bush, Bush, Bush”).

According to his bandmates, Zak wrote lyrics for nearly 40,000 unproduced songs, meaning the group will be able to churn out material until everyone else in the band turns 80. Somewhere in Ohio, Robert Pollard is reading this, and wondering if he needs to step up his game a bit.

A ‘Family’ Mourns a Punk Rocker Who Defied His Age: 80 [NY Times]Team Spider [MySpace]