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This week I’ll actually mostly be listening to… the Wiggles December 19, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
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Ah feck it, who am I fooling?

This weekend it’s a lot lot more likely that despite my best efforts to listen to Public Enemy I’ll be listening to a lot more of this crew.

Yeah. The Wiggles.

Antipodean dealers in candypop, 1950s rock and roll inflected, toddler tunes. As was noted to me they’re like the Fleshtones if the Fleshtones had got some sleep, dressed in Star Fleet uniforms and eaten lots of candy…

And they’re responsible for this bizarre culture clash… or should that be crash?

Can you explain it? No. Me Neither.

And this one too…

And when it’s not them we’re dipping into Wombles territory. It’s a ‘W’ thing.

Did you know there was a half-hearted attempt at a revival sometime this decade? You did not. Lucky you. No one should know that information.

Okay, there’s some good stuff… mostly Sesame Street related…ah little Elmo, how much I misjudged your squeaky voice and your overly energetic demeanour, truly compared to some examples of such programming you’re a little star… a veritable Chaplin of your witty craft…

And thinking about last weeks Last Days of Disco post…

And in between the irritatingly cheery melodies and the incessant demands for ‘Wiggles’ I’ll be trying to sneak PE onto the speakers. What’s that quote PE sometimes use?

Revolution is hope for the hopeless…

Indeed. That phrase has a different resonance now I’ve faced the Wiggles.

Chuck D knows exactly what he’s talking about. I can tell.

Comments»

1. Tomboktu - December 19, 2009

Speaking of the Muppets, this is soooooo wrong:

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WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2009

Whhyyyyy Kermit? Why?

That sounds like the second voice actor for Kermit… Again, there’s stuff I really shouldn’t know.

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2. splinteredsunrise - December 19, 2009

Then there’s the Hi-5 Christmas album…

Actually, I’m giving a lot of airplay to Happy Holidays by Billy Idol. It might appeal to your sense of cheese. Billy singing “Frosty the Snowman” is a treat not to be missed. 🙂

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WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2009

Generation X is but a fading memory in that man’s mind.

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3. Phil - December 19, 2009

I met a girl once who said her friend had got the clap off Billy Idol. (She wasn’t boasting.) Funny to think that I grew up at a time when STDs were curable.

No, that wasn’t really relevant, but it’s what I always think of when I see the name Billy Idol.

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WorldbyStorm - December 19, 2009

🙂 I think. Or perhaps on second thoughts 😦

I always think of bloody turbocharged produced within an inch of their life faux metal anthems. I was upset – sort of – to see him turn up on Tony Iommi’s solo album some years back. Thankfully Pete Steele of Type O Negative was there to provide some sort of balance.

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splinteredsunrise - December 19, 2009

I always enjoy him turning up on the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage, to discuss the day’s play with Inverdale. He knows a fair bit about tennis too. But I still don’t know why he puts on a funny accent and gets everyone to call him Boris.

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4. WorldbyStorm - December 20, 2009

😉

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5. yourcousin - December 20, 2009

This is what I have to look forward to? I can only hold my head and weep.

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WorldbyStorm - December 20, 2009

You’ll learn to love the Wiggles. YOU WILL LEARN TO LOVE THEM.

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Eagle - December 21, 2009

Years of the Wiggles and I never learned to love them. I didn’t mind the Bear (in the Big Blue House) as much as the Wiggles. However, nothing’s worse than Barney.

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splinteredsunrise - December 21, 2009

Bear in the Big Blue House is excellent right enough.

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6. sonofstan - December 20, 2009

The first few years can be hellish alright for anyone with any vestige of a musical sensibility, but it can get even more disconcerting later; I expected the teenage years to be full of me resisting the desire to get her to turn that racket down, and fighting the urge to ask whether you call that music…..instead, not only did what emerged from behind the bedroom sound like what I liked at that age – it often was exactly what i liked at that age. Kids, eh? you want them to rebel in puzzling and annoying ways, and instead …… you find yourself slightly puzzled and annoyed by their refusal to rebel.

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WorldbyStorm - December 20, 2009

I can see how that would happen, and I guess a lot of the interest and craic is in the divergence from other personalities.

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Eagle - December 21, 2009

sonofstan

You hear what they listen to? Mine have earphones in all the time. I have no idea what they ever listen to. {Nor can I ever call out and get a response. You always have to make eye contact.}

However, they don’t know how to rip CDs or buy online (and don’t have the requisite credit card) so I know the full collection.

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sonofstan - December 21, 2009

Not ‘they’ but ‘she’ singular: yeah, blasting out her bedroom door which is next to mine, so I’ve little choice. On the other hand, she puts up with my eccentric listening habits too..

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Eagle - December 21, 2009

One of my daughters knew all the words to Thunder Road when she was 5 and she used shout with delight when I put on Bruce. That’s all over now.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

She’ll be back…

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LeftAtTheCross - December 21, 2009

Yeah, my eldest is 13 and she’s starting to crossover from the likes of Pink and Avril Lavigne into some of my stuff, Radiohead, Ramones. The kids see and hear the cross-references in their teeny culture, Radiohead in the “Twilight” movie soundtrack, Ramones in “Bandslam” etc. It’s intriguing. I put it down to the diminished generation gap thing. Maybe none of us posting here have ever really “grown up”, and I mean that in a positive sense, we haven’t lost our own youthful rebelliousness, we don’t expect or nurture hierarchy in our own families, the generational boundaries are very blurred by comparison to what I grew up with. We have a PC in the kitchen, all the family’s music is downloaded and ripped onto it, we listen to each others stuff. I draw the line at Taylor Swift though I have to say!

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

So would I 😉

Diminished generation gap… yeah, that’s true enough on some axis… but on others it’s as wide as ever, if not more so. In a way I think that’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s good for people to find their own stuff. The weight of the musical canon in particular must be heavy going in trying to pick out more recent people to join it. Nephews of mine who were too young to have been into Nirvana when Cobain died used to wear tee-shirts with him on them and it struck me how odd it was that for me Cobain came long after I got into music… that’s a real gap. Or the Ian Curtis thing, where he’s now thirty odd years gone… I’m trying to think of equivalent characters from the 1940s who would have had an influence on my taste in the 1970s when I first grew aware of music… and I can’t. And even the 50s, there’s something different about the dynamic… but it’s still curious that the canon is so strong.

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LeftAtTheCross - December 21, 2009

WbS, but music only began in ’76 didn’t it?? To this day, and with the singular exception of Horslips, I don’t think I have any music from before then in my collection. Ok, I exaggerate, the greatest hits of the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, Nico & the Velvet Underground, but not much else of substance. And Springsteen’s early and best ablums of course. Ok, ’76 wasn’t truly year zero, but it defined a generation, and inspired some since.

What else is there to rebel against now, but rebellion itself? Should we blame Strummer and Lydon for the apolitical apathy of the 20 & 30 somethings?

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

LeftAtTheCross, is that an exposure thing? That we weren’t that much open to pre-76 music because that’s around the time many of us started to listen to music, so that became Year Zero by default, whereas for someone in their 50s or 60s it was respectively hippy and rock and roll which were the rebellions? Which links into the thought that a lot of pre 76 music was actually pretty good from pop and soul all the way across to heavy rock etc, but many of us, myself included, never got a great listen to it. That said, I still value my Zep/Sabbath/Love/etc albums…

I think you’re right that any future rebellions now have 76 to measure up to and usually we’ve seen them crash and burn where that’s been tried.

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splinteredsunrise - December 21, 2009

The exposure thing comes into it surely. My early musical memories tend to revolve around Jim Reeves or Rosemary Clooney. I tell you what, Blue Oyster Cult were a revelation.

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WorldbyStorm - December 22, 2009

For me as well… BOC

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LeftAtTheCross - December 22, 2009

WbS, I’m not sure I agree that exposure is part of it. Ok, when I was a teenager there was no MTV and no interweb, but there were late-night radio programs and occasional copies of NME or Hot Press, and there was the diverse musical tastes of classmates in school, so there were plenty of influences floating around, and plenty of tapes received and given between peers who were interested in music. Plenty of choices to tune into.

For me it was Radio Dublin’s “Pat James Rock Show” (anyone remember that), the opening bars of the Clash playing “Police and Thieves”, a formative moment. Or SLF’s “Alternative Ulster”. I would have been 14 or 15 years old, but there was something in that music that lit a fire that still burns. That music, or the punk movement taken as a whole, as Eamonn said it was a “whole package” in a cultural and political sense.

When my 13 year old listens to the Clash or whatever now I know she doesn’t get the same buzz from it, how could she, that moment in time was 30 years ago and the world has moved on, but I sort of hope that something in the lyrics will get under her skin. Better than listening to teeny pop anyhow.

Blue Oyster Cult, hmm, we may have to disagree there! Having said that, I must be mellowing with age, I recently downloaded Sabbath’s “We Sold Our Soul For Rock’n’Roll”, great guitar music. Not much in the way of political analysis mind 🙂

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7. sonofstan - December 21, 2009

It’s weird alright: the generation gap seems to have disappeared to a large extent with music – i know 50 year olds who – not even in a self consciously hip way – like Animal Collective, and 18 yos who love Joni Mitchell, and there’s not even an sense of anachronism….

But then you try and explain what a Trade Union used to be…..

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

That’s it. And while it’s good to see boundaries reduce at gigs you’d wonder if other gaps are widening. It’d be easy to see this as being a function of us all being ‘consumers’ and therefore we’re an undifferentiated target (albeit it’s not inconvenient for music and other companies to be able to sell to the broadest possible range and number), but there may be some element of truth in that.

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8. EamonnCork - December 21, 2009

Good point WBS. One of the things that I remember about the post-punk bands I was into a misfit teenage kid in the eighties is that there was a whole package there, Marxist politics, CND, anti-apartheid, transgressive art, foreign film, Ballard, Burroughs, Bukowski. It was almost like a kind of an alternative education and a hugely liberating one if you lived in Rural Sligo.
Whereas now it does seem to function as a product and solely that. You hear Joy Division being played as a kind of an eighties classic or the Bunnymen or someone yet my memory of the time is that these were very much acquired tastes and aggressively rejected by the kind of people who’ve since gone into the bank or the guards and now regard them as handy eighties nostalgia. Everything now is taken out of context and tamed. Back then to love the post-punk groups was to realise there was something unsatisfactory about living in the Ireland of the time, especially rural Ireland. Nowadays I’m struck by how many young lads seem able to go to the big rock festivals while also thinking that there’s nothing better in life than living next door to your parents in your home village. And what happened in Listowel this week is an example of why the mores of your average home village deserve a bit more than cursory examination. Rather sadly, here in the countryside, I’ve noticed that the opinion of people in the CLR and in the papers about the awfulness of the affair is not universally shared. I don’t believe Listowel is some kind of anomalous territory. I’m bringing my own kids up in the country because that’s the way the ball hopped but I would hope they’d have enough sense to want to get out of it when they’re teenagers.
I was watching a couple of interesting docs on BBC4 on women in British rock, you start off with the kind of manipulated, though good, stuff, Shaw, Springfield, Faithfull but by the punk era you’re moving into hugely intelligent, edgy, individual people, Moyet, Bush, Siouxsie Sioux. Then by the end it’s Kylie and Amy and Leona which is puppet retro stuff with popular taste being made by the likes of Cowell and Walsh whose idea of popular culture is a Seaside Special from 1976.
The easy answer to this is that I’m getting old but I think there’s more to it than that and anyone on CLR who’s thought about it can see there’s more to it than that. We seem to be in the Rollers/Cassidy/Osmonds era again but I think the whole thing is so mediated and controlled at this stage it’s hard to imagine there ever being anything with the impact of punk or the experimental oomph of post-punk. Which matters if you think music is something with the power to break the frozen sea within us and move us beyond the complacent easy attitude to life. To this day if you stick on The Pop Group in a room, it still gets a polarised reaction.
Anyway, just a few random thoughts. Hope you all have a great Christmas. I enjoyed 2009 on the CLR. There were more good ideas and insights on here than you could shake Ken Dodd’s amusing comedy stick at.
I’m an In The Night Garden man myself.

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LeftAtTheCross - December 21, 2009

Well said Eamonn.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

Thanks Eamonn. Appreciate that.

On the broader point it’s true that somehow even though product is available everywhere horizons seem to have narrowed, at least somewhat. And it’s true too, one can look back at the 80s with very rose tinted glasses and yet think that somehow there were positives in amongst the negatives. I always think a salutary example of what I’m talking about are the catalogues that come with Rock and Heavy Metal magazines (I do the research so none of you have to 😉 ) which have all the paraphernalia, studded arm bands, tee-shirts, combats, patches etc that you could want. Want to be a Goff, a metal head, a punk (of sorts), just tick the boxes at the end of the catalogue, find yourself sufficient money and away you go. Now that’s losing something. Even if I’m not quite sure what, and it’s intangible….

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Dr. X - December 21, 2009

Maybe it was different in Sligo, but I’d be wary of overestimating the counter-hegemonic tendencies of Alternative Yoof Culture. . . my experience in Castlebar was that if you tried talking to people dressed in Radical Styles, their politics was quite often anything but radical. . .

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EamonnCork - December 21, 2009

I’m probably over sentimentalising and generalising wildly from personal experience. Then again we were pure mad into the counter hegemony in rural Sligo. Surely you’ve heard of the four women from Tubbercurry who saw a vision of Gramsci at Killasser Holy Well.

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9. Cormac - December 21, 2009

There’s actually tons of decent kids music out there if you look, FWIW. They Might Be Giants, Captain Bogg and Salty, Apple Brains, Imagination Movers … em, does anyone mind if I mention my kids music website here? I don’t want anyone to accuse me of spamming, so I won’t post a direct link, but if you google “kids tunes” you’ll find me

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10. WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

Never thought of TMBG as kids music until you mentioned it. Interesting.

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11. John Green - December 21, 2009

TMBG have released albums music specifically for kids, Wbs. As, you’ll find, has a former Three John over at Bloodshot Records.

Enjoy the hols folks.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

You too… That sounds intriguing also…

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12. Dr. X - December 21, 2009

This thread, I think, is as good a place as any to post this link to a letters page from the International Times:

http://www.internationaltimes.it/index.php?year=1971&volume=IT-Volume-1&issue=105&item=IT_1971-06-02_B-IT-Volume-1_Iss-105_002

Looking at the right hand side should allow you to read a furious letter slagging a bunch of political fantasists who, it appears, had been telling outrageous lies about the then current situation in Belfast. Nearly forty years on, it’s clear that the kind of pseudo-political pseudo-rebellion the hippies represented won – if you don’t believe me, ask the next kid you see wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt to provide you with a succinct summation of the Argentine Stalinist’s politics.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

Who could the letter writer be? Hmmmm… a puzzle.

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13. Dr. X - December 21, 2009

And now have a look at this from the International Times, in which a racist Provie calls on British troops to mutiny and join the provisional People’s Army, and Ronan O’Rahilly informs us that like Britain and the United States, Northern Ireland is just a projection of someone’s ‘head trip’, meaning it doesn’t really exist. Man.

http://www.internationaltimes.it/index.php?year=1971&volume=IT-Volume-1&issue=118&item=IT_1971-12-02_B-IT-Volume-1_Iss-118_010-011

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14. EamonnCork - December 21, 2009

What a fantastic resource, if less for political analysis than for anyone who happened to be embarking on a novel set in Seventies London. Fair play, Dr X, if you find anything similar for any of the music or political papers at the time, could you let me know? I’m just, like, so blown away by the actual existence of this, man, that I can’t, y’know, dig what they’re actually saying.

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Dr. X - December 21, 2009

Far out.

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15. Crocodile - December 21, 2009

There’s another difference between teen music appreciation now and in the seventies: then my friends and I read tens of thousands of words a week about the stuff we loved and the people who were creating it. Their politics mattered and the people who reviewed and interviewed them educated us as much as our teachers did. There’s an often-made point about the influence of The Sex Pistols’ Manchester gig in 1976 : that there were very few people there but everyone who was formed a band. I’d say there’d be an interesting thesis to be written on the cultural effect of the few copies of the NME that made their way to every Irish rural town in the late seventies. Lots of people, from John Waters to Peter Murphy to, I’d guess, several contributors to this site, would make useful interviewees.

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EamonnCork - December 22, 2009

That is perhaps the major difference. I’m not sure if anything commands the same seriousness from teenagers now. Except, strangely, sport. It’s odd, when I was a kid I played loads of sport, a few of them to a good level, but I never read a word about it. I read about politics in Magill and I read the NME, Melody Maker and Hot Press. Increasingly I meet youngsters who are the oddest phenomenon to my mind, they don’t play football but they obsess about it, read about it, go on and on about it. That’s strange to me. I lloved the stuff but the whole point of it as a kid to me seemed the playing of it. I think the demise of the music press stems to a large extent from the notion that the worst hand grenade you can throw at someone these days is the one marked, “earnest.” I was an earnest kid and I liked that. I think earnest is good. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do that whole get a life number or paint them as an anorak. It would, for example, be the easiest label in the world to pin on CLR members. I do think the idea that, “sure it’s only a bit o oul music, have the crack and don’t take it too seriously,” is the symptom of a wider lack of seriousness. I wonder sometimes if society is getting to be ironied out.

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LeftAtTheCross - December 22, 2009

I stopped reading the music press (Hot Press) when I emigrated to London in the mid 80s. When I came back in ’90 it had changed, I think as a result of the new wave of writers who came along behind the post-punk wave. That newer generation seemed liberated by what had gone before, but somehow lighter, bitchier, and less “earnest” to use your description. Maybe it was just the passing of the baton to the next generation but in the aftermath of the punk revolution there were losses as well as gains. I agree totally that the irony thing is overplayed at this stage. Maybe what goes around comes around eventually and we’ll have a future generation that lauds the anorak again. I live in hope.

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EamonnCork - December 22, 2009

Or maybe we’re just anorakchronisms.

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16. Joe - December 22, 2009

Great thread. Just back from a first-ever trip to the States (aka the Great Satan) so, first…. Happy Holidays to all. (Had a great time by the way… maybe there’s something in this free enterprise capitalism after all?)
I don’t know where to start with analysing all this kids and music and sport and politics. My 19 year old is missing the sports gene, listens to and plays modern (!) guitar music all the time, reads a lot and politically is so right wing that I don’t bring it up for fear that I’ll say or do something I’d regret.
My 15 year old daughter isn’t really into music that much (loves Thunder Road too though) except to keep up with her friends – went to Muse (She, before the gig: “They’re the greatest live band in the world.” Me: “Have you heard their stuff?”. She, laughing: “No”). She reads a bit. And she can hurl but prefers hanging with the pals. And politically I’m pretty darn certain she’s gonna be a serious leftie who could, just could, be the charismatic yet effective leader that leads the progressive transformation of Irish society to you know yourselves. Watch this space.
My 12 year old boy wants to hurl for Dublin. Reads a bit. Has to listen, like all of us, to big brother’s music. Politically he is in favour of days off from school for any reason whatsoever.
Myself I didn’t have the courage (or the money) in ’77 to get into punk and the New Wave, I was always a few years behind, I have the Ramones Greatest Hits on in the car for the first time ever these days. “I guess that I just gotta tell ’em that I ain’t got no cerebellum.” NME in the eighties was a fantastic read, the writing was just brilliant. I knew the names of all the bands but not their music – Scraping Foetus off the Wheels, anyone?

What all of the above rambling teaches us about Irish society, I know not. But I’m hopeful of a very happy, enjoyable, lazy Christmas break. Sláinte mhaith.

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