Monday, 28 November 2011

Wonders of the modern world: what young(ish) people do with my (our) past

I was at a show last nightFlorian Lunaire. It was in a big room above a pub in Essex Rd. It was excellent, as it happens. (Apart from anything else, he has a song called Forever Young. I always approve of songs which share their title with another very famous but quite different song. I'm thinking of writing my own Roll Over, Beethoven — or Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or Hit Me Baby, One More Time.)

But the show itself is not the point. The point is the music that was played before Florian went on. It was, as far as I could tell, old. When I say old, I mean old. I don't think I heard anything newer than the early 1980s — when not many other people in the room were even so much as born.

The tune I particularly noticed was Prince Buster's Madness. Now that is from 1963. At least. Maybe it's even older. It certainly sounds like it is. So it pretty much pre-dates the Beatles. I probably first heard it at the Tunbridge Wells club I spent nights at it in 1968 or so. They'd play lots of ska and bluebeat and soul. I'm sure that was one of them. But . . . it sounded old, even then.

And now they are playing at a show for today's young people. Which leads to all kinds of thoughts about nostalgia and its meaning for us. And its inconstant handmaiden, authenticity, too, of course. Which maybe I'll get into some time. But for now, just one thing . . .

I did the maths. That tune is, roughly, fifty years old. For me (and mine), an equivalent would be that when I was at the Tunbridge Wells club, the warm-up music would have been from World War One. Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag. It's a long, long way to Tipperary. My old man said follow the van and don't dilly dally. Boiled beef and carrots, that's the stuff to do you well. Any old iron, any old iron, any, any, any old iron. Etc etc. To a crowd of young men and women in Ben Sherman button-downs and French crops. Possibly not. Probably, in fact.

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