Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Bob Mould Moldy? How Old Is the Clash? Cab vs. Python


•You know, I heard something from Bob Mould’s 2008 album, and now that he’s mellowed just slightly with age, he ends up sounding a bit like a cross between emo and Dave Matthews Band, I fear. Perhaps in retrospect, though, even when he was young and angry he was really just a cross between grunge and Dave Matthews Band.  Am I becoming disillusioned too quickly?  Do I see in his decline a hint of my own mortality?

Yet it was such a short time ago that I was pleased to hear a friend of mine say she still felt somewhat hip because her son’s skateboard-culture magazines (probably written by Gen Xers) make occasional references to bands like Husker Du that she loved in college.

•On a similar getting-old note, the 1979 Clash song “London Calling” is an interesting reminder in at least three ways of the point in history that spawned it (I mean, aside from the ska influence and actual musical concerns): They were singing about “phony Beatlemania” biting the dust a mere nine years after the Beatles’ breakup but still safely one year before Lennon’s assassination; they meant it when they said “the ice age is coming,” as that was then the most-feared possible result of changing CO2 levels in the atmosphere; and the song’s eco-apocalypticism was reportedly inspired by that year’s Three Mile Island accident, now thirty years gone by.  (Though for the record, I was myself a child when the song came out and had no idea who the Clash were, being too busy humming the Star Wars theme song at the time.)

Sidenote: Dave Whitney points out that the cover of that Clash album was an homage to an Elvis album.  It’s vital to acknowledge your roots.  (It was also Dave who pointed out to me that Billy Idol cited Elvis as his biggest influence, which makes a ton of sense the moment you think about it, right down to the sneer.)

•Ninety but still kicking is Richard Hoggart, the culture analyst who coined the phrase “Death-Cab for Cutie” as a hypothetical example of a pulp fiction title (in his 1957 book The Uses of Literacy) — inspiring a 1967 song by that title by the Bonzo Dog Band (which appeared in the Beatles TV-movie Magical Mystery Tour and shared member Neil Innes with the second-tier Monty Python ensemble).  Hoggart’s phrase also, of course, inspired a more recent band’s name.

When some government project in 2040 is nicknamed S.I.T.H. or a college student in 2059 writes a prog-rock holographic opera about Pokemon that ten years later inspires a clothing style by that name, let us all agree not to be shocked by the staying power of pop culture memes.  Some of the catchiest things are retro-viral, so to speak.

1 comment:

jenny said...

take some comfort that mould spins some sweet tunes, at least. blowoff mostly monthly at the 9:30, and in NYC as well. be advised the crowd is largely gay men, in case you’re worried about your heterosexual cred. (although i’d be surprised if you were.)