The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The death of Downtown Music

When you get to the ripe age of 29, and I've been that age for well over a decade, you start noting some changes in your surroundings.

In the early 1980s USA (and Australia), popular music for whites had a proletarian theme. Rick Springfield posed as a Working Class Dog, and the Hooters hosted a dance in the union-hall. Billy Joel, member of the Tribe but Downtown, desired that Uptown girl, but he knew he was going to have to settle for Hollywood. The movies were similar: Caddyshack, Bachelor Party. Once upon a time the urban Vaisyas and white Helots were a powerful force in American history, and at least the nostalgia for their America lasted well into the 1980s.

My background was in that upper middle class which, Murray and Herrnstein predicted, would take over the planet. The Downtown music never made sense to me: we didn't live in the tenements; the unions weren't heroes, instead were a nuisance (were in fact why we'd fled 1970s London); and my parents didn't work, they went to work. (Wholly different concept.) For me, I could relate instead to mostly-British music, dealing more with psychology and relationships (and international politics): Tears For Fears, Pet Shop Boys, the Cure, U2.

I don't believe that I've heard a single new Downtown song since leaving for the UK in 1987. (No, "workers unite!" agitprop from The Housemartins does not count.) What I've heard, instead, is country music, pushing in from hinterland towns to the suburbs.

Urban Vaisyas and white Helots no longer exist. Instead we got the people who think they're smart, who listen to whiny androgynous adolescents; and we got the people whom they've shut out of the culture, who listen to country.

posted by Zimri on 11:29 | link | 0 comments

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