Friday, February 10, 2006

Nostalgia For An Age Yet To Come

J.K. Huysman once wrote that when the period in which one is "condemned to live" is dull and stupid (kinda like, um, now! - an age in which Reality TV rules the airwaves, Bush gets elected not once but twice, and oil addicts-in-denial are allowed to drive Hummers while lamenting our dependence on the Middle East and the high price of gasoline), "the artist is haunted, perhaps unknown to him, by a nostalgic yearning for another age."

I'm no artist, and I'm no schoolboy, but I know what I like...and lately I can relate. In the past several months I have repeatedly kept turning inward and backyard in my readings, viewing, and listening. Why, just this week I picked up two copies of the great British music mag MOJO, the ones devoted to The Who and The Kinks, both including 15-track CDs of contempo artists covering their respective Townshend and Davies-penned songs (the latter highlighted by Steve Wynn's psychedelic cover of Kinks rarity "This Strange Effect" and The Fountains of Wayne's power-poppy "Better Things.")

The week before, I picked up the Rolling Stones singles compilation box set, The London Years, because - though I am certainly on record as detesting Mick Swagger and the latter-day musical self-indulgence of these runner-ups (to the Beatles, of course, among other great British Invasion groups like the Who and Kinks, the latter of whom also enjoyed some longevity comparable to the Stones - 1961-1996 isn't too shabby a reign for the Kinks, eh?) - I grew up on those Stones R&B singles in the 60s and really dig some of those neglected nuggets on their B-sides like "Sad Day," "Off the Hook," and especially "The Singer Not the Song," which observes, nostalgically:
The same old places and the same old songs
We've been going there for far too long

Or not long enough...Yes, there's a certain security in the familiar, like Linus's blanket, for we aging Baby Boomers. My God, they've even brought Tab back (some say it never went away!), in the form of Tab Energy (3 times the caffeine plus a skinnier can designed to look more like a cannister of Red Bull, I guess).

And Hollywood movies? It's long been established that the Boomers have tried to remake every TV show of their youth, all to absolutely horrible affect, from Bewitched to Leave It To Beaver to Richie Rich to Little Rascals to Fat Albert, and so on and so on.

TV commercials, especially those for cars, seem to thrive on recovered musical memories of Boomer's formative years in the 60s and 70s. "Picture Book" by the Kinks drives that HP camera ad, anoter HP ad digs up late 70s New Wavers The Speedies performing "Let Me Take Your Foto," and so on. And how many damn ads use Iggy's "Lust For Life"?

This week, when I went to sell some CDs at CD Depot in Towson, I almost instantly invested in buying back my youth in the form of purchasingthe back catalogues of bands no longer in existence. I bought an Undertones singles compilation that I only had on vinyl, an Undertones DVD documentary produced by the late, great by John Peel, some Blondie records, a New York Punk compilation with tunes by lesser known scene makers like Mink Deville and The Mumps, and the great Wayne/Jayne County circa The Backstreet Boys.

The last couple of books I've read have been looks back too, a couple of Dylan bios, a Kinks book, two Rolling Stones bios, a Beatles book, and so on. I'm even thinking of going to see a Beatles tribute band play at Bobby B's in Essex!

When will it end? Will my last words be like Charles Kane's, as he mouths "Rosebud..."? Only for me it'll no doubt be Lenny Kaye's "Nuggets..." or "Rubber Soul."

Related Links:
Nostalgia Central


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tommy, I wanna borrow that Undertones DVD!

1:14 AM  

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