How important is it?..............

Backslapping time. Well done us. We are fantastic.
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Postby Carl's Son » 25 Mar 2005, 18:13

Well I was called Eighties Boy at school because I loved The Smiths and Madness and Prince. People all thought The Smiths were New Romantics too. I never hid anything but then I was all right. I had enough friends in all camps to get away with expressing opinions of all things!
I can just about handle you driving like a pissed up crackhead and treating women like beanbags but I'm gonna say this once and once only Gene, stay out of Camberwick Green!

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Postby x » 25 Mar 2005, 19:18

The poor quality of the music press makes me glad when we're having a debate on some event and somone pops up to say 'I was there' and gives us his or her first-hand impressions.

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Postby Magilla » 25 Mar 2005, 22:23

Guy E wrote:I do think that Being There greatly heightens the experience and have always loved the enthusiasm people have for their local music scenes. It doesn't matter if historians tag the late 80's New Zealand scene as the best ever... if you lived in Dunedin during that period you were on top of the world. It can't be beat.


It was an incredible privilege for me to be a Dunedin scenester in the '80s-early '90s and my friends and I really did feel on top of the world.
Coming back to footy's original question, it's not important to have been there at the time to appreciate a scene, but it is very exciting if you are.
I know a lot about the VU, for example, despite never ever having gone to America, let alone NYC, but that doesn't stop me appreciating them indepth.
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Postby The Write Profile » 25 Mar 2005, 22:31

Magilla wrote:
Guy E wrote:I do think that Being There greatly heightens the experience and have always loved the enthusiasm people have for their local music scenes. It doesn't matter if historians tag the late 80's New Zealand scene as the best ever... if you lived in Dunedin during that period you were on top of the world. It can't be beat.


It was an incredible privilege for me to be a Dunedin scenester in the '80s-early '90s and my friends and I really did feel on top of the world.


It's one of the few times where I wish I was born a few years earlier, so I could've been a Dunedin student then. Even though there is probably more great NZ music around proportionately, absoloutely none of it comes from Dunedin. It's Auckland or Wellington, really.

I sympathise with Chris Chopping as I'm kind of the same: a lot of the stuff I like, be it reggae, rock'n'roll, punk, indie, soul, whatever...was released before I was born. But I guess it also means I didn't have to live through stuff that would've been not so good. I get lot of music from today, there's always something to keep me interested.

Actually, I was chatting to a girl with a Buzzcocks T-shirt at the library. After a few minutes talking about films and stuff in general , the conversation turned into this (I'm not sure how)

" Nice T-Shirt. Great band weren't they? Another Music in A Different Kitchen is one of my favourites"
"Who?"
"The Buzzcocks. The T-Shirt you're wearing"
"Oh. I've never heard of them. I just like the logo"

Tsk. some people..
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Postby PENK » 26 Mar 2005, 02:35

IlModernista wrote:
Chris Chopping wrote:Also, the divides which prevented Damned fans listening to Yes at school still exist. I'm glad that I can listen to The Beatles and Stones, Biggie and Tupac, T-rex and Bowie, punk and prog, disco and rock without any hassle but if you go to school now you still find big divides between the kids listening to hip-hop and the kids listening to goth rock.
They where different clothes, hang out in different corners of the commen room and make snide comments about each other. It's the way of the world!


In an idle moment at work i was thinking about the music taste of the kids I teach (16-19) and although I very rarely talk to them about music I can pretty much guess what they're all into. You can pretty much fit them into five groups, it really is that prescribed:

1)US Rn'b, UK garage, the poppier end of hip-hop - a lot of the girls fit into this.
2) Gangsta, drum n'bass -ditto most of the boys.
3) Mainstream pop incorporating some of 1)
4) Hardcore metal and punk. Just about all coming from the US, this scene doesn't seem to be as big as a few years ago though.
5) UK indie and classic rock. Contemporary Uk indie bands with a smattering of things from the past, including Oasis who seem almost liked for nostalgic reasons. The interesting thing is kids in this category will quite often get into things like Queen without any sense of irony or concept of how unhip something like Queen was considered. There is a slight overlap with category four as well.

This has been my handy cut out and keep "Guide To Young People". Memorise it and you will never be confused by them again.


That guide is pretty accurate to be honest.
I myself of course am one of the sad few in category 6, "pretentious upstarts who pretend to know a lot more than they do and in 10 years' time will be listening to Dire Straits and the Eagles".
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Postby marios » 26 Mar 2005, 02:42

The Right Summery Profile wrote:

Actually, I was chatting to a girl with a Buzzcocks T-shirt at the library. After a few minutes talking about films and stuff in general , the conversation turned into this (I'm not sure how)

" Nice T-Shirt. Great band weren't they? Another Music in A Different Kitchen is one of my favourites"
"Who?"
"The Buzzcocks. The T-Shirt you're wearing"
"Oh. I've never heard of them. I just like the logo"

Tsk. some people..


Is she gorgeous enough to be forgiven?

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Postby The Write Profile » 27 Mar 2005, 07:30

the masked man wrote:.

On another tack, The Right Summery Profile made an interesting comment recently about The Smiths. He said he likes the band, but they'll never mean as much to him as they do to Griff or myself, who were in the right place at the right time. It seems that my feelings about The Beatles are echoed in his feelings about The Smiths.

Certainly, The Smiths caught something about living in Britain in the mid-80s, and in my university their songs always echoed down the halls of residence. I can't separate their music from my own experiences of student life. (As a result, this highly Mancunian band will always make me think of Reading).

In a way, I'd like to hear The Smiths from TRSP's (20-something, New Zealander) perspective, just to see how the songs would work without the backstory.



Well, I should've replied to this a couple of days ago, so I'll try now. How I came into the Smiths was through a history teacher. There was a poster of Johnny Marr and Morrissey on his wall, and he offered somebody a chocolate fish and the period off class if he could name them. I couldn't-I was 15 at the time. He explained who they were, etc, exasperated that no-one had heard of them (though actually, I'd vouch that they're probably more well known to people my age now, than they were, say 5 years ago: one of those old ciruclar things.

I think for me, The Smiths were quite important insofar as I had very little music in my collection and so they were one of the first bands which I bought the discography, listened to intently, enjoyed a lot. And it went on from there. It was probably How Soon Is Now? and perhaps The Queen Is Dead (the album, but that song in particular) that drew them too me: their strange mix of total glibness and profoundity (Morrissey's voice/lyrics), and the space which Marr gave the music. It's a light/shade ironic dynamic. I get that in a lot of my favourite British music: the Buzzcocks too, as well.

There's a bizzarre nostaliga in their music, IMO: not in the same sense as the Kinks, which is more overtly romantic, but one that seems inherently parochial: desperation, disaffection perhaps. I can totally understand why they inspire the affection that they did, but they can't ever be "my" band, if that makes sense. Far too much distance in geography, and time. But I still like them, and that's all that matters.

I quite liked maskedman's comment about "at least 40 percent of the music is as good as people say it is". Well, that probably goes for any time, including now. The wilful revisionism that constantly occurs in music is a result of that.

It's quite good coming from here and following and liking music: we don't have to worry about the "my scene was/is better than your scene" fracas that you sometimes come accross on this board (most of it is just gentle ribbing and in jest, of course).

But there is, the aforementioned distance as well. It's hindered a lot of local stuff reaching your fair isles. it also means things can take awfully long in reaching here: I'm so glad for the coughing exchange thing we have.

Maybe Being there adds something to the experience of listening to the music, but nostalgia doesn't make anything better.
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Postby mentalist (slight return) » 27 Mar 2005, 07:46

sonic marios wrote:
The Right Summery Profile wrote:

Actually, I was chatting to a girl with a Buzzcocks T-shirt at the library. After a few minutes talking about films and stuff in general , the conversation turned into this (I'm not sure how)

" Nice T-Shirt. Great band weren't they? Another Music in A Different Kitchen is one of my favourites"
"Who?"
"The Buzzcocks. The T-Shirt you're wearing"
"Oh. I've never heard of them. I just like the logo"

Tsk. some people..


Is she gorgeous enough to be forgiven?



A very similar thing occured to me with someone and a Scientists tee. I thought, wow what taste, but she'd nerver heard of the band, just liked the t-shirt.
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Postby The Write Profile » 27 Mar 2005, 08:11

In regards to my above post, I must also add that some of my favourite recent posts have been Guy E and Footy reminiscing about hearing those Beatles/Rolling Stones songs at the time. It's amazing how evocative their memories are, quite something. I don't know whether there'll be a single group where I can do the same thing, just a lot of different music instead.
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Re: How important is it?..............

Postby Piet » 27 Mar 2005, 10:48

Footy wrote:
When discussing, say, Sergeant Pepper, despite the arguments being so forcefully put and knowledgeably reasoned, they come from people who simply did not exist in 1967 so how can they truly perceive the point and the impact of the album at that time? No matter how well expressed some of the criticisms may be, how can these people really feel the significance of it and its relevance to its place in time? When I hear it now, I can still smell the warm summer air of 1967 and feel the mood of the time.

Similarly, on the Stones/Beatles thread, Mick Jagger's stage moves were a subject of criticism but in 1964, they were innovative, daring, sexy, challenging and spawned countless imitators. They were part of what made the band what it was at that time - not least, that was dangerous. To dismiss his dancing now is to miss a very big point but perhaps you had to be there.

But those belong to 'my' era. Don't some of you see what I mean when you hear younger people slagging off punk? Or prog? Or glam? etc etc.

Knowworrimean?



I know exactly what you mean, Footy.

Much of the music in the period too relected the sense of optimism that was clearly evident at the time from say '64>>>>>'68.

Although many don't much care for his style of writing, for me, Ian Macdonald captures the essence of the point you are making perfectly in his analysis of The Beatles music, "Revolution In The Head".

Here are two quotes:-

'Anyone unlucky enough not to have been aged between 14 and 30 during 1966-7 will never know the excitement of those years in popular culture. A sunny optimism permeated everything and possibilities seemed limitless. Bestriding a British scene that embraced music, poetry, fashion and film, and in which English football had recently beaten the world, The Beatles were at their peak and looked up to in awe as arbiters of a positive new age in which the dead customs of the older generation would be refreshed and remade through the creative energy of the classless young. With its vision of 'blue subaurban skies' and boundlessly confident vigour, PENNY LANE distills the spirit of the time more perfectly than any other creative product of the mid-Sixties. Couched in the primary colours of a picture-book, yet observed with the slyness of a gang of kids straggling home from school, PENNY LANE is both naive and knowing - but above all thrilled to be alive."


&


"With Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band finished, the group left Abbey Road at dawn bearing an acetate and drove to 'Mama' Cass Elliott's flat off the King's Road where, at six in the morning, they through open the windows, put speakers on the ledge, and played the album full blast over the rooftops of Chelsea. According to Derek Taylor, 'all the windows around us opened and people leaned out, wondering. It was obvious who it was on the record. Nobody complained. A lovely Spring morning. People were smiling and giving us the thumbs up.' "

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Postby The Write Profile » 27 Mar 2005, 11:43

Yeah but the problem with Ian Macdonald's writing on any period post, say, 1974, is that it claims that the shared experience of youth is somewhat less than his. For him the 60s was the be all and end all. Nothing else was very important to him. I appreciate how exciting it must've been to have heard the beatles at the time, but really, there has been other music since. He discounts pretty much everything else subsequently, and hates nearly any form of pop music that involves machines.

I love Ian Macdonald's writing about music which means a lot to him, but he turned into a lost and quite curmudgeonly figure. The failure of whatever utopia he imagined hit him pretty hard.

It's the difference between say, acepting that things were pretty great to live in, and not falling into the rosy nostalgia never-never-land trap that Macdonald falls into every so often.

I certainly don't get the latter from footy or Guy E's posts, btw. As I said, I find them fascinating.
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Postby Diamond Dog » 27 Mar 2005, 11:57

Just slightly off topic (and how wnderful is this thread?) but could someone who was actually there in the summer of '67 confim that the song most of that time was, in fact, Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale" - not anything from "Pepper", please?
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Postby Footy » 27 Mar 2005, 12:10

Diamond Dog wrote:Just slightly off topic (and how wnderful is this thread?) but could someone who was actually there in the summer of '67 confim that the song most of that time was, in fact, Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade Of Pale" - not anything from "Pepper", please?


Sunday June 4th 1967. A Whiter Shade of Pale is number 1 in the UK chart. I'm at a concert watching Procol Harum perform it - they're the support act to Jimi Hendrix.
The Friday before, Sergeant Pepper had been released. Jimi starts his set with the title song. Paul McCartney's in the audience, watching from a box just above the stage..............

Yes, that song was everywhere that summer. It defines the year for me, possibly even more so than anything by Jimi.
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Postby Diamond Dog » 27 Mar 2005, 12:15

It's memories like those, Footy, that are just irreplaceable. And, as much as I love the songs/key players etc, I really will never know what it was like to be there. Fabulous.
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Postby shadreck » 27 Mar 2005, 12:34

As an old timer, I witnessed the impact of Elvis, the Beatles and later British punk on separate conservative societies in tropical parts of the globe. In all three cases, the newspapers covered much of the news about the ground breakers in a breathless, frenetic fashion: "Beatles new single goes No. 1 in UK", "Elvis declares his love for his mum", etc. But the (state) radio at the time, initially totally ignored Presley and the Beatles and later all radio stations refused to play punk. So this created a grass roots sharing of news and the music among young people. At school, we gain status amongst peers if we were able to claim to have heard "Please Please Me" or know what was on the B side of the Jailhouse Rock RCA 78. As a teacher, I can recall a student excitedly coming round to my house at 4.00pm on a Thursday with the first Buzzcocks 45 that had reached town.

So, in each case the build up of anticipation and excitement added to the listening pleasure of the music. Plus the feeling that this was something new, revolutionary and unique was confirmed by the rejection and disdain handed out by the rest of society. Notably, both Presley and the Beatles became acceptable to the adults and the mainstream media so some of us moved on to Little Richard and the Stones.

Remember, in these tropical outposts where I have spent the bulk of my life, there was always a time-lag before the records we had been reading so much about reached our record shops.

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Postby James R » 27 Mar 2005, 14:14

Guy E wrote:
Footy wrote:When I were a lad, you either liked the Beatles or the Stones.


Funny, in the States the divide was between The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five, liking the Stones was OK with either.


This fascinates me. I suppose it shows how much the passage of time lends its own perspective to things. How many people still care about the Dave Clark Five compared with the other two?

I do have an answer of sorts to this thread but I need to work out how I want to say it. I'll come back to it later.
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Postby James R » 27 Mar 2005, 14:19

One thing, anyway:
I would argue that living through a particular period is not necessarily the same as Being There (capitals used advisedly) during it. I lived through the alternative/grunge explosion of the early 90s, for example, but I don't know that I Was There as such. Even at the time I think I was mystified by the adulation of Nirvana. These were my musically formative years, but I was more interested in what had happened in previous decades than what was going on around me.
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Postby James R » 28 Mar 2005, 15:49

OK, so I ruminated about this at length in my journal last night. Started the entry by trying to summarise the various positions offered so far on this thread, then carried on as follows:

*****
One thing I know is that context is vital, and I learned this from David Stratton’s film course. You can’t fully appreciate the impact of The Birth of a Nation until you have some idea of what else was happening in the film world up to and around 1915, and then you maybe still don’t entirely get it but you understand it a lot better.

So context is vital, and that includes your own personal context… cos when it comes to the crunch, Being There (capitals used advisedly) is nice, but you can only Be where you are at a given point in time and space. And living through a given period is not the same, I think, as Being There. I mean, I lived through the grunge/alternative explosion of the early 90s, but I don’t know that I would say I Was There. The Nirvana worship of that time mystified me then as much as it does now. You know, I took an interest in it, somewhere on tape I still have the Live At The Wireless thing they did for Triple J as well as an acoustic session they recorded for the station as well, but it didn’t have the significance for me that it had for so many other people. What was I listening to back then… 60s psychedelia, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, stuff like that, tentative explorations into blues and jazz that I probably should never have made at that time, and so forth, that was the stuff I was getting into much more than the stuff that was actually happening at the time. I paid attention to the new stuff, but my heart wasn’t into it in the same way as it was into the old stuff. (And arguably not much has changed there.)

So I was there but I Wasn’t There, if the use of capital letters is enough to suggest the distinction between the two ideas. But at any event, everyone has their own personal context of where they were during a given point in time, whether or not they Were There for some given world-shaking event, be it the premiere of The Rite of Spring or the birth of bop or the advent of Elvis or Beatlemania or punk or grunge, and that informs their particular perspectives upon the events of that time and the times before and the times after. As I said, the difference was drawn between the Beatles/Stones divide in the UK and the Beatles/Dave Clark Five divide in the US… which I shows what the passage of time can do as well. I have a good grip on the Beatles’ and Stones’ respective catalogues and some idea of the relative difference in contemporary perceptions of them, but I can’t even think of a single DC5 song right now, I’m not sure how many if any I’ve ever heard, and so I’m really quite mystified by this business. Probably I had to have been living in the US circa 1964 to fully get it. Context again. Or maybe if I just knew the slightest thing about them that’d make a difference to my understanding.

I don’t know. The whole thing is kind of vexed. Cos not only is a grasp of historical context vital to an understanding of things, but your own personal context inescapably colours that as well and complicates things. It’s as I say, Being There is fine but you can only Be where and when you are, and that’s a question of historical accident… I would love to have been a teenager in London in the mid-70s when punk was about to flower, but I wasn’t, I was a toddler in Sydney, and there’s no amount of wishing will change that, it’s too late after the fact. My view of that period is coloured by that element of nostalgia that I know exists in me and by my own backwards-looking perspective upon it… it looks like it would’ve been an exciting time, but in reality, I have no idea what it would’ve been like. I would’ve been a different person back then. I might’ve abhorred the whole thing. Who knows. I am who I am now, for better or worse.

And the passage of time and the accumulation of experience and knowledge further colours your perspective on events as well. It feels to me now like the world of music is going through one of those lulls it periodically seems to have when there’s nothing especially exciting happening and we’re all waiting for something worthwhile to happen to break the stagnation, and then in about fifteen to twenty years time, the chaff will have been winnowed out and no one will remember it, we’ll look back and find there were more highpoints than we thought there were at the time, and good stuff we didn’t notice was happening at the time will come to light, and so forth. I’m finding I have an interest these days in the music that was happening in my formative years, from the time when I first began to notice music at all (which I usually pin down to about the end of 1979 when I must’ve heard “Another Brick In The Wall” a lot via my brother Grant) up to when I really started taking an active interest in it circa 1990, this whole world of music I was only dimly aware of or else completely unaware of during the 80s, not necessarily the music of my particular childhood and youth but the (alternative, usually) music of that period when I was growing up… things like post-punk, hardcore, early goth, shoegazer, etc. (Snagged an excellent box set compilation of 1980s 12” singles the other day. If and whenever I become a DJ, there’s a good few tracks on that which will prove handy to have.)

So the short answer of whether or not you had to Be There is, well, I don’t know. In some cases perhaps you did. In others you didn’t. But whether or not you Were There, you were at least (hopefully) somewhere… and wherever you were/are, you’ll have some perspective on things. And I rather doubt there is such a thing as a necessarily right/wrong viewpoint (just differing degrees of how well-informed that viewpoint is), so maybe it doesn’t matter in the end whether you Were There or not. I don’t know, it’s too late at night (after 2 a.m. as I write this last part) to be thinking about these matters and trying to formulate words for them when it’s hard to do so…
*****
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Postby The Write Profile » 23 Aug 2005, 23:10

To continue this thread, do you think the best "histories" of various music are written by those who were actually there at the time, or can it be sometimes benefical to have the benefit of distance?


Macdonald, of course, was so bound to his glory period that he didn't really break loose of it, but it's funny how many linernotes for reissues (The excellent remastering of Forever Changes, f'instance) begin with something along the lines of "I wasn't there at the time, but..."
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Postby Martial Lawniz » 23 Aug 2005, 23:14

I'm going to have to say that it can be quite important, otherwise Yompi's pronunciamientos on punk would mean nothing. Yet they don't. In spite of the cantankerousness.
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