Iggy Pop, whose real name is James Newell Osterberg, Jr., was born Muskegon, Michigan and raised in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
If you’re reading this, you probably have a sense of who Iggy Pop is, and given that sense, you’re probably skeptical that there’s much of anything about religion in there. You’re probably right.
There’s nothing to be found about Iggy’s childhood religious education, though his upbringing has been described as “trailer trash,” which seems like either a great place, or a terrible place, to foster a relationship with God. My guess is that religion didn’t come into play.
As the old, leathery rock star that he is now, Iggy says the closest thing to religion that he gets is immersing himself in his performances, becoming the performer and a part of the audience at the same time. It’s a sort of “oneness,” maybe Iggy’s a Buddhist.
He has likened his shows, where he’s rolled around in broken glass, shot up heroin, performed sex acts and numerous other oddities, to giving society what they want in religion–that being blood:
As society has changed, what had formerly been unacceptable has become colorful, even the broken-glass thing… It’s about the blood… The Christians used that riff with Christ. What did Christ really do? He hung out with hard-drinking fishermen. And when they asked him, ‘Why are you hanging out with prostitutes and fishermen?’ he said, ‘Because they need me.’ …But what your martial society really wants is blood. We need some blood. We need some suffering. Like, the individual must suffer for the good of the whole. I toy around with that. Early on, I wasn’t looking at Jesus Christ, saying to myself, ‘What an angle.’ I wasn’t trying to be Christ-y. But, after all, on one level, this is showbiz.
I get the sense Iggy sees religion from a sociological angle. It fulfills a human need, and he’s happy to take that upon himself–though not in some arrogant, spiritual leader kind of way. He’s giving the people what they want.
There’s not a whole lot from Iggy in the political sphere either. We know he supported Ronald Reagan in the 80s.
“What!? Iggy a Republican?” You might ask.
It wasn’t really about that. For Iggy, it’s all about liberty and he, along with many others these days, equates the left and its orientation to equality with oppression. He said of Reagan:
I’ve been waiting for someone who could communicate the joys of liberty as compared to the joys of equality.
When Clinton ran in 1990, Iggy was under contract by his record label to do some Rock the Vote ads, and he wasn’t registered to vote, so the label got him registered and made him vote–which he did for Clinton, even though, he says, he “knew [Clinton] was a crook.”
But he didn’t have nice things to say about Bush II either, who he saw as a bit of a tyrant:
The way Bush talks, I think he could use the same rhetoric that he used to justify an illegal intervention, to stop losing an election. You know: ‘OK, we made a mistake in the voting process, but the country really needs us to save it.’
Ultimately, Iggy’s non-partisan. He seems to evaluate politicians skeptically, and based on their own merits and flaws. I imagine he’s accrued a good bit of wisdom in his decades as a crazy rock star, and wisdom often translates into political incredulity.