In what I hope is one of the last anecdotes from the bar at Sound of Mu…
One of the strangest phenomena in Norway of the twenty-first century is the perpetuation of pop cultural myths from the distant past among creatures who I find it hard to believe are actually for real. Two of these came my way the other night. Both dressed in black, one of these young men had a pudding bowl haircut and sported a (to be quite honest questionably genuine) black moustache, and was singing the Who’s “My Generation” over and over to himself. That song came out in 1965: surely it was his grandparents’ generation that was being sung about?
The other was wide eyed, with red hair and beard, looking something like a fire demon in his black garb. He looked at me with the seriousness only drunks can manage and expected me to man the CD player and “play some rock and roll, man.” Now, Sound of Mu is an art gallery, and for good or ill, usually the music we play would not lead you to believe that we are some kind of wild rock fraternity, but this dawned on him but slowly, if at all.
Apparently rock is still some kind of religion here in Norway. I’m told that the Norwegian rock bands of the 1980s were the first bands to express the Bohemian culture. Even if that was 20 years behind, it doesn’t explain why there are young people TODAY who think it’s 1965.
Bohemian rock and roll – that of “My Generation” – and the whole idea of being ‘a rocker’ – has been impossible to take seriously since around 1970 (before I was even born!). The Stooges killed it. Rather than affecting some kind of cool like bands before them, they seemed to know the whole thing was a joke and they revelled in the simple trashiness of the medium, and on “L.A. Blues” the final ‘song’ on their album Funhouse, they took the frenzy and release of rock & roll and brought it to its logical and final conclusion: screaming bloody chaos. The end. The punks of the 70s followed the Stooges’ simplicity, but neglected to produce an “L.A. Blues”, thus falling into the ‘classic rock’ trap. Only the Birthday Party accentuated this utter laceration of the unnecessary Anglo-American rock mythos (their Stooges covers are hysterical).
It’s ironic that in a country bursting with ORIGINAL music that these anachronisms exist. What the hell do you say to someone who wants you to “play some rock and roll, man” ? Update thy slang? Get thee back into thine time machine?