September 01, 2006

Horse 623 - By Any Other Name?

There is a song on the radio by a Ms Sandi Thom which sounds vaugely folky at the moment in which the chorus goes like this:

Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair
In '77 and '69 revolution was in the air
I was born too late into a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair

Having listened to this song, the only word that springs to mind is Rebellion.

The reference to "flowers in my hair" is no doubt a reference to the Summer of Love in 1967 and the wave of Hippie culture that followed. Apart from being greasy layabouts, Hippies cherished personal liberty and sought freedom from governmental interference in their private lives; in particular the legislation of sexual morality and prohibitions against psychoactive drugs. They were ethical libertarians and believed that individuals have the right to do as they wish with their own persons and property, as long as they do not infringe on the same rights of others.
Hippies came to feel that in some sense a monolithic entity had emerged; composed of corporate industry, corporate media, the military and government that exercised undue power over their lives. They often referred to this monolithic entity as "The Establishment," "Big Brother," or "The Man."

Punk on the other hand also wanted to remove "The Establishment" but sought to do so via more violent means. Punk ideology is concerned with the individual's intrinsic right to freedom, and a less restricted lifestyle. Common punk ethics include a radical rejection of conformity which at the time actually included Hippie subculture, the DIY ethic, direct action for political change, and not selling out to mainstream interests for personal gain.

What's interesting is at the heart is a desire to pull down "The System" whatever that happens to be, but as to the notion of what to replace it with is usually ill-conceived. Either way, both are focused on the rights of the individual and at their heart are for the most part intrinsically selfish.
So Sandi Thom, at the heart of the matter what you're actually saying is that: Oh I wish I was a selfish like my parents before me.

But isn't that just like everyone else whose gone before and therefore the most conformist thing you could actually say?

PS: I suppose that I shouldn't really read this much into songs like this. Take the example of "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles. I remember once thinking "yeah stick it to the parents - woohoo" but nowadays I just get the impression that the girl in the song is an insensitive and selfish A-Grade snotticus bratticus who'll probably run home to mummy and daddy anyway when she realises how good she had it...
Um well... hmm.

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