Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everything old is new again

Vintage Vivienne Westwood blazer
 They say that popular culture is cyclical - things that are in fashion will soon go out, and become as stale as yesterday's toast. Then some discerning soul will discover, hidden in dusty archive, attic, or passed-on hoarder's estate sale, some forgotten object, garment or artifact that bursts anew onto the scene, fresh again!

Are you old enough to remember the Beatles' re-discovery of Edwardian style in the '60s? "Winchester Cathedral" bo-doh-dee-oh-ing? Remember when we all dressed like Bonnie and Clyde, maxiskirts and berets? The shoulder-padded suits of the '80s, "Blade Runner's" Rachael echoing the Andrews Sisters? How about neo-hippie chic?Neo Marilyn? Retro punk?

BoHo Beyonce
In this digital age, it's even easier to resurrect the ancient archives of lame past fashions. It's why high school kids still listen to music their parents got high to - as if it were still as new and subversive as in 1968, instead of inhabiting some corporate Classic Rock radio playlist. It's why vinyl is cool, why cats-eye eyeliner and beehive hairdos rocked Camden Market, and why TVland is so popular. Why "Mad Men" brought back chartreuse and portrait necklines. The rise of Steam Punk.

Sometimes the trendsetters elevate some past trend to new prominence out of pure unabashed admiration. The raw, proto-sound of Delta Blues or early rockabilly are art forms in their own rights. But sometimes I think today's hipsters elevate certain aged styles or trends with a sense of irony - these hoary artifacts were lame during their heyday, and isn't it all a joke that they've retained their lameness over time?

At least I hope that's the case with one such blast from the past I experienced yesterday evening.

I was at an event, a party celebrating the anniversary of a leading edge arts institute. Everyone was there - leaders, young artists, powerful money, and rebels. There were women in amazing shoes, young men with strange geometric hair. We sipped champagne and nibbled fashionable "comfort food" hors d'ouevres like wee grilled cheese sandwiches.

The place was hopping, lit up with LED blue lights, and in the back by the bar a DJ rocked the joint with smoking tunes that blared from speakers hung all around the event space.

And then I heard it. One of the lamest songs ever to come out of the early 70's. Yes, that entirely too-cute, droll Paul and Linda McCartney jingle "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" where Paul shows the world that without John Lennon, he's as hokey and inane as any teenybopper flash-in-the-pan. If this has been elevated to the newly-hip, I cringed, waiting for the next tune.  "Jeremiah was a bullfrog," maybe?

Everything old is new again. Even crappy music.


Sue (Someones Mom) said...

Oh, I don't know...Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog was catchy, don't you think?

One of my friend's daughters has a thriving upscale business out of Chicago. Some of her sales are vintage clothing...most of which I had hanging in my closet at one time. It is hard to think of ourselves as vintage, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm vintage, but I prefer to think of myself as the original trendsetter. I do find it hard when shopping though, because I don't want to wear the retro stuff and the new stuff is so young and the stuff I like that fits my advanced age is too expensive. And don't get me started on shoes!

I have heard both of these songs mentioned as elevator music!


Anonymous said...

Oh, Winchester Cathedral, how wonderful.
Some of our music WAS lame, but my poor kids were born in the 70s and
80s and THEIR music, well, I'd hardly call most of it music. Poor babies.