Friday, 13 January 2012

Postmodernism in Rock

Did my 'Postmodernism in Rock' lecture today. Postmodernism being a fraught subject to define precisely, and these being first years, 'Rock' is an obvious and visceral place to start. First take some blues, delta blues or whatever - poor black men doing whatever they can on the very edge of existence itself. I chose 'Peetie Wheatstraw' for excellent songs like 'You ain't goner stop me drinkin' and 'I want some seafood' (or whatever- find 'em on You Tube). Now this is your original rock, and to non aficionados, all the tracks sound the same (handy). This is the bedrock of rock. To develop from these beginnings the modernization process has to somehow turn these characters in to Led Zeppelin and make them GODS (Faustian overtones and modernist project). Now it's important to state that the lyrical content (sexual innuendo etc) remains basically the same as do the repetitive chord structures, but what is added is tremendous POWER and GESTURE (Bonzo's drumming and Percy's trousers). Once you have Led Zeppelin, then you let the ROCK mix bubble for a while and out pops anything from Motley Crue to The Darkness, these become your post-modern archetypes out a condition of massive over consumption. Motley Crue decide that it's all about acting, pure BE AM DO, be it, then you are it, and then you finally do it, then go back to being it again and doing it again and so on without stopping in ever decreasing circles. The Darkness, at least by death nell album No2 (produced by Roy Thomas Big Error) even calling the album 'one way ticket to hell and back,' decide to interrupt the spirit of becoming and crash and burn conspicuously in a huge cloud of cocaine within which no doubt writing a song about going bald (track 6) becomes HUGELY FUNNY all night long. However 'Bald' can be monumentally brilliant only in the ironic sense. With 'Bald' you can't get behind the ironic sense nomatter how good the riff is. Hair IS, after all, the ultimate Rock signifier!!!!
(so in both senses, you've lost the music)
Voila, there's your postmodernity for you.

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