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Re: The Dark Age
This is really well articulated. You have viewed these particular moments
in culture with the keen eye of an anthropologist. I don't completely
agree with every observation you've made here, but I admire the way you've
thought this out.
I particularly find the sixties vexing. Being a pre-schooler during that
time, my difficulty with the time period is based on foggy memories and
observations from popular culture. Yes, I believe alot of brilliant,
groundbreaking cultural and musical moments occurred during this time, I
do however have a real problem with the whole flower-power/summer of
love/hippie utopianism of the time versus the reality of "hippies"
harassing returned Vietnam Veterans (who were usually poor whites or
minorities). I have a problem with all of the Spock-weened baby boomers
and their endless "you weren't there man.....the sixties were a time of
revolution" clap-trap, making it seem like it was the only time worth
being alive. Perhaps a time of revolutionary self-involvement.
I realize relating to the nihlist punk era of the seventies exposes me to
a whole other set of criticisms. It seemed a whole lot more realistic from
my point of view.
Now in my forties, I realize that there is brilliance and utter bull-sh*t
in every era of music and pop culture and no single epoch has a singular
hold on innovation or genius. It is what you take away from an era that
gives it value, perhaps not what actually happened.
Other opinions and rebukes?
Greetings From Colorado
>From: Kim Flint <email@example.com>
>Sent: Dec 30, 2005 6:14 PM
>Subject: Re: The Dark Age
>At 02:28 PM 12/27/2005, Rainer Thelonius Balthasar Straschill wrote:
>>Could anyone please explain to me why the Eighties are often referred to
>>as "the dark age"?
>Funny, I read this different from most of you. I immediately thought
>age" in terms of aesthetic and emotional content, rather than a "period
>history where progress stopped". When I read other's responses, it really
>left me thinking about this. To me, 80's music had a darkness to it that
>wasn't really there in music of the several decades prior. In much 80's
>music there was rage, melancholy, aggression, coldness, depression,
>rebellion, hopelessness, cynicism, disillusionment, fear, nihilism. New
>wave, punk, techno, rap, death metal, early goth/industrial, etc.
>I'm not talking about pop music, but even superficial 80's synth pop had
>something dark running underneath. To me this era was really, really
>different musically from much of the 50s/60s/70s.
>Where I live, this "dark 80's" theme is really popular in dance clubs
>lately - it seems to be a theme many are connecting to again. Maybe that
>It goes back to that context thing we discussed previously. The music of
>the 80's reflected the times, as well as the life experiences of the
>who were mostly creating and listening to it. If you can't put yourself
>into that context you won't get it. Growing up in the 70's and 80's
>look like the "leave it to beaver" reruns we watched on TV. For us
>"genXers" our formative years were filled with recessions, oil crisis, 3
>mile island, nuclear annihilation threats, hostages, post
>cynicism, cold war, AIDS, crack, "evil empires", iran/contra, shallow
>yuppie greed, moral majority, S&L collapse, etc. The times were
>and cynical and harsh, and so was the music. We didn't put flowers in our
>hair; we had Slayer.
>Also, our generation's culture was (still is) perpetually overshadowed by
>the huge demographic glut of baby-boomer culture. That plays into it
>somehow as well.
>(this was the American version/perspective anyway, in other parts of the
>world I think it worked out differently.)
>I think the growing-up experiences of the baby-boomer generation were
>really, really different from this. The 50's and 60's were times of
>economic boom and prosperity in America, as well as a time of optimism
>a belief in changing the "system" for the better. Times and attitudes
>more positive and happy and idealistic. On the other hand, the good
>and "times of plenty" of their formative years I think also led to a bit
>self-indulgent behavior among many in that generation, a world-view of
>want it, give it to us". A sort of spoiled child effect. (the "Me
>Generation" label always struck me as fitting.) All of this I find
>reflected in the music and culture of those times.
>And here is where the clash comes, which I find really interesting. I
>there is much more to it than "kids rebel" / "parents don't get it". I
>think these two generations of people, on the level of values and
>choices, really don't understand each other at all. I think most
>baby-boomers, when confronted in the 80's with stuff like Slayer or the
>Cure or Depeche Mode or Public Enemy or Juan Atkins' techno or whichever,
>just couldn't relate to it on an emotional/aesthetic level. I think this
>resulted in a lot of knee-jerk reactions; that we slackers only produced
>crap and couldn't live up to the supposedly glorious era of Woodstock and
>the summer of love. (it still results in that reaction, as evidenced by
>this thread on this list.)
>I know from my perspective, I've never been able to relate to most of the
>baby-boomer era's music and culture. Or what I do connect to is not the
>same elements the baby-boomers themselves wish to nostalgize endlessly in
>VH1 documentaries. I can listen and appreciate easily enough, in a
>historical/academic way, but the music mostly doesn't connect with me
>emotionally. I know I'm not alone among genXers in this. Curiously, I've
>always found it much easier to relate to and understand my grandmother's
>generation, whether it was sitting down and talking to them or listening
>their music. They clearly didn't understand the baby-boomers either (and
>vice-versa), and I think it is because their own cultural values were
>formed under such dramatically different conditions (economic
>world wars), and perhaps a bit more similar to ours.
>Somehow, this difference of context has a big impact on culture and music
>specifically, and I think we really need to consider it carefully when
>trying to judge something from one era or another.
>Several times now I've had a really amusing conversation, discussing the
>most influential music of the last xx years with groups of
>musically/culturally knowledgeable people. Of course people tend to
>overweight their own era, but it is really interesting to see what
>different groups of people consider important about one specific period.
>For me, being from the later genX generation, two names that immediately
>jump to the top of the influential music list from the
>boomer era are Black Sabbath and Kraftwerk. Both of these held huge
>influence over the music of the 80's, when I was growing up. The eventual
>sounds of Rap, Metal, Techno, Synth Pop, New Wave, and Industrial drew
>considerably from the aesthetic and sound of these two groups. To me that
>seems obvious, being an 80s kid. Certainly pop-music historians have been
>citing Kraftwerk as one of the most influential groups of the last
>for some time now, as they were such a big influence on early Rap,
>Industrial, and New Wave. But invariably, the baby-boomer members of
>discussions have never heard of Kraftwerk! I always find this really
>surprising. How can you produce one of the most influential groups ever
>not know who they were? Name recognition of Black Sabbath is usually
>better, but they are mostly not on the boomer's list either.
>To me this is amusing, but also illustrative of this divide in cultural
>aesthetic. Black Sabbath and Kraftwerk were both reflecting a cold
>in their music that the next generation was really going to respond to
>during their "dark age", but most of their own generation didn't
>understand. We noticed their music and ran with it. Meanwhile, from my
>perspective it was really hard to look back at that era and understand
>the big deal was about Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan or many other such
>artists. It was only when I tried to understand the context of their time
>that I understood it at all. But I still don't relate to it.
>I also find it really interesting how we pick out musical examples from
>other eras based on our own era's cultural aesthetic. How when I consider
>the 60s/70s era of music, I immediately think of rather unusual groups
>their times, like Kraftwerk or Black Sabbath, because those are the bits
>understand. Or how boomers look at the 80's and mostly see examples of
>music that was really a vestigal remnant of their own era, like Journey
>Def Leppard, and don't know anything about rap or techno or industrial or
>new wave or metal or even punk. we miss all the interesting stuff.
>Maybe that's a point I'm arriving at here. You need the context to both
>understand and find what is good. We obviously miss a lot. It leaves me
>wondering about what we may be missing about the present. If the life
>experiences of someone born circa-1950 can be so different from those of
>someone born circa-1970 as to result in such different music, what about
>those born circa-1990? The context of their formative years produces...
>what? Are we missing it?
>Kim Flint | Looper's Delight
>firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.loopers-delight.com