Kick Out The Jams - Meaning of "Kick Out The Jams"

Meaning of "Kick Out The Jams"

"Kick out the jams" has also been taken to be a slogan of the 1960s ethos of revolution and liberation, an incitement to "kick out" restrictions in various forms. This is myth and fiction, however; the truth is more prosaic. To quote MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer from his interview with Caroline Boucher in Disc & Music Echo magazine on August 8, 1970:

People said "oh wow, 'kick out the jams' means break down restrictions" etc., and it made good copy, but when we wrote it we didn't have that in mind. We first used the phrase when we were the house band at a ballroom in Detroit, and we played there every week with another band from the area. We got in the habit, being the sort of punks we are, of screaming at them to get off the stage, to kick out the jams, meaning stop jamming. We were saying it all the time and it became a sort of esoteric phrase. Now, I think people can get what they like out of it; that's one of the good things about rock and roll.

Kramer also claimed during a 1999 interview that was excerpted for Goldmine magazine that the phrase was specifically aimed toward British 1960s bands playing at the Grande who the MC5 felt were not putting enough energy into their performances. The title has also (jokingly) been reinterpreted as an establishment message masquerading as a revolutionary anthem. David Bowie sings in the song "Cygnet Committee": " stoned the poor on slogans such as/Wish You Could Hear/Love Is All We Need/Kick Out the Jams/Kick Out Your Mother".

In Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's classic counterculture novel Illuminatus!, "kick out the jams" is said to have been created by the Illuminati, who are believed to control the music industry, as a jibe against a rival sect, the Justified Ancients of Mummu (or JAMs for short).

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