This song has rung out in my head my whole life.
School. No fun, my babe. No fun.
University. No fun to hang around. Feelin’ that same old way.
Work. No fun to hang around. Freaked out for another day.
A perpetual earworm since I was 16.
The anthem for everyday boredom. A solace more than a sadness.
Iggy Pop says he wrote No Fun about living in the Mid-West “… and basically it was no fun with nothing to do.” The chord progression is repetitive, as are the lyrics. The monotony of small town life is here. Recognised from my New Zealand upbringing. Growing up on empty streets and filling days by finding things to do. Things to break. Kids to meet. Childhood days that were longer than adult days.
The luscious slowness of those times has nothing on the grueling temporality of a day in the office. Too much to do, and too much time to do it in. Hours crawl by and the countdown looms until it’s socially acceptable to leave. How is it that every time I check my phone just a handful of minutes have passed? And yet, when I disappear down an online search vortex, precious time of possible productivity vanishes.
By the end of the song, Pop is audibly craving something. Anything other than the tedium. C’mon. Well c’mon, well c’mon. In the final moments, the singer practically begs the guitarist to play something that will break the rut. Provoke some kind of feeling.
I say lemme hear you. Tell em how I feel, yeah, my man No fun to be alone It’s no fun to be alone Hang on Don’t you lemme go It’s no fun to be alone To be alone .
Like the digital hypnosis of the online billions, Pop’s premonitions speak to the unbearable condition we find ourselves in today. Too bored to move, too busy to care. Let alone change it. Everything is dull and everything is exciting under the whirl of the infosphere. It grows intenser by the day, just like our paralyses.
Pop even sees a version of so-called ‘decision anxiety’;
Well maybe go out, maybe stay home
Maybe call Mom on the telephone
Don’t trouble yourself. Nothing needs to be done. Donna Haraway tells us to keep calm, it isn’t a tragedy the human race is doomed to despair. Keep calm and carry on.
 Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NY: Duke University Press, 2016.