Do you feel lucky?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Over at Popular, the survey of every British number one has reached the rains that brought an end to that sweltering, parched summer of 1976 and swept in Abba’s Dancing Queen (a well-deserved 10 out of 10, though not the best of the five 10s so far). It also brought me, freshly out of university, just married, to settling down to the world of work and independent living.

The waters in Popular have become turbulent of late, and I find myself confronting my problematic relationship with the phenomenon known as ‘punk’.

I was never attracted by the shrieking atonal tantrums of the Sex Pistols. Some regard this as heresy, but can’t see the contradition in what they say; they wanted a rebellion, but they also wanted popular success. And punk never really impacted the top of the charts directly; my recollection of the late 70s is that Abba bestrode it, along with the Disco fad.

On the other hand, I liked and still like out-on-a-limb acts like Elvis Costello, who some associate with punk (but I don’t – a fine songwriter and a consummate musician who would have been quite at home ten years earlier but who fitted in with the spirit of this time and later even better.) But that’s not good enough for some! He sold out (whatever it was he had to sell), he betrayed the movement.

The trouble with hard-core punks is that they wanted to dictate established taste, not rebel against it. But I say, yay for everyone who swims against the tide. And leave me to enjoy my Genesis and my Springsteen, and my Abba and my Elvis Costello, my Weather Report and my Wagner.

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