Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seeds of Retromania, #1

from an interview I did in 2006 around Rip It Up and Start Again

"I had this experience recently in a bar in the East Village.  I go there a lot, it's a basement bar where hip people go to transcend the game of hip -- they play really rocking, All-American tunes there -   Aerosmith and James Gang and AC/DC.  Anyway, this song came on and I recognized it and it was driving me nuts, I couldn't place it. So I had to go ask the guy at the bar what it was. The barman didn't know and was too busy to look at that moment. But this twenty-five year old guy hanging at the bar, he wanted to help me out. And he suggested, "it might be The Fall, or possibly The Alarm, but I don't think it's The Fixx”.  Now, being a rock critic and having come of age as a rock fan during the Eighties, those three bands don't seem like they'd be capable of being confused with each other at all. But it was also very obviously, to my ears, a 70’s sounding song. You could tell by the production, the style of playing -- it was pre-punk.  Old Wave. That struck me, the fact that for this young person who clearly knew quite a bit about music -- he'd heard The Fall, at any rate - the history of rock could be jumbled up like that.

"Then the barman came back and he still didn't know but he'd managed to find out that it was from the soundtrack to Goodfellas . And then it clicked, it was the soundtrack to that exciting sequence of scenes when Liotta's character is coked-out and frantic  -- the paranoia and the pasta sauce and the helicopters overhead.  The song was the song that wasn't The Stones, "Monkey Man" -- it was the other song. But I still didn't know what it was. Later I found out it was Nilssen, 'Jump Into the Fire". So definitely pre-punk. 1971, in fact.

"In Rip It Up, there is a strong differentiation between music in ’78, ’79, ’80, '81. But I lived through that sequence, through the big changes that happened each year, the memory of that is still vivid to me, the distinctions very real.  I think young people now hear stuff from so many eras at once all jumbled up, those distinctions don't matter to them. All that is unrecoverable, the sense of historical sequence.

"Its fascinating to me.  It's actually something I’d like to write a book on – time, nostalgia, timelessness… "

1 comment:

  1. I have seen Goodfellas a few dozen times, and until just recently, I thought this Harry Nillson song was Joe Jackson, ca. 1979-80.