20 June 2011

Ghost Town

Thirty years old - it hardly seems possible, but the BBC news website has a lengthy piece about one of the defining songs - no, probably the defining song - of its era. I wonder what happened to my copy of it?

It's hard to remember how the world felt that summer, what it was like living in Hackney which was the scene of some pretty unpleasant rioting (though far enough away not to affect me). More than half my lifetime ago. It's a very powerful reminder of how music occupies a leading position in one's memory, though it's a very powerful piece of work. I was already almost too old to be into the latest popular music at the time, and the comments on the BBC piece about how mourning the fact that music isn't like it was in one's youth strike a chord. I have no doubt that there are musicians doing highly political and also highly musical work - the difference is probably that the industry wouldn't touch them now, and there's no route to the top of the charts as there was for The Specials. But a latter-day Ghost Town could reach a lot of people through YouTube - perhaps there's no reason to bemoan the fact that it's not like it used to be. I can't imagine the sheer excitement  of that time (no, not the excitement of throwing petrol bombs on the Front Line, I'm only referring to the music) ever happening again.

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