3/14/12

Thoughts on Music #11 - Alice Echols

Alice Echols
"The sixties will always be remembered for their audacity, whether found in the courage of civil rights protestors who put their bodies on the line or in those doomed but beautiful rock stars who tried breaking through to the other side. By contrast, the seventies seem the decade when nothing, or nothing good, happened - an era memorable for the country's hapless presidents, declining prestige, bad fashions, ludicrous music and such over-the-top narcissism that Tom Wolfe dubbed it the "Me Decade". Before the decade was out, this narrative of decline had become routine. "After the poetry of the Beatles comes the monotonous bass-pedal bombardment of Donna Summer," huffed one New York Times writer in 1979. It is a measure of the era's persistent bad press that a recent book challenging this view carries the pleading title Something Happened. As for the sixties, it doesn't matter how much silliness went down, we still invest those times with seismic significance. Take Joe Cocker's performance at Woodstock. His spasmodic thrashing about and his vocals, slurred to the point of incomprehensibility, are something of a joke today. Cringe-making though it may be, however, Cocker's performance is never made to stand in for the whole of the sixties. The sixties remain enveloped in the gauzy sentimentalism of what might have been. Yet the iconic image of John Travolta as dance-floor king Tony Manero in white polyester suit, arm thrust to the disco heavens, has come to symbolize the narcissistic imbecility and inconsequentiality of the disco years".
-Alice Echols, Hot Stuff: Disco and the remaking of American culture (2010)
Joe Cocker at Woodstock
John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever
Movie poster

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