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Sunday, April 22 2001

Yet another walk on music's dark side

I said a couple of days back that Patti Page's "Is That All There Is?" probably epitomizes decadent-theme popular music. But yesterday another example came to mind that eclipses it, which the title of today's entry suggests: "Take A Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. That 1970's hit seems to promote hard drugs, prostitution, male prostitution, and everything that constitutes the "wild side," and has a "downer" musical rendition that reenforces the lyrics more clearly than does the music on Page's song.

A search of the holdings of the Napster subscribers online when I was researching this gave 100 files for the song, and one surprise was that some renditions are by country and western performers. But maybe it's curious that I find this out of place in country and western...as yesterday's discussion of Johnny Cash concluded, the dark side is very prominent in the genre. I'm not familiar enough with the genre to make blanket statements, but possibly there is at least much decadent music there as anywhere; there's certainly lots of "cowboy blues." (But lest anyone sees this out of context with yesterday's entry, I am not equating "dark" musical themes with decadent ones. There's probably a progressive connection, but they're not ultimately pointing in the same direction, as the terms are being used here.)

Another interesting finding was that a cover of "Walk on the Wild Side" was made by Marky Mark, now known by his real name, Mark Wahlberg. It was released in Wahlberg's "rap" phase, and it's worth listening to as an illustration of gradations of decadent style. His rendition is far brighter than Lou Reed's, and the lyrics have even been elevated a bit compared with the original.

It's likely that the 1970's will be remembered in history as a walk on the wild side for all of Western civilization. It's the decade when pornography established legal protection, when both straight and "bent" bath houses were in full swing (so to speak) in most major cities, and in the last decade before the eruption of AIDS, you couldn't drive through the downtown of even a midwestern city like Indianapolis late at night without seeing prostitutes of both sexes strutting their wares. Even searching 70s on Napster produces listings of "porn rock," whatever that is.

No doubt the pendulum has swung back a ways, but the "two steps forward, one step back" (in this case, "forward" toward moral collapse), dialectic of modernism is clear. The moral values of the 1960's make no sign of reviving. God have mercy on the human race once a vaccine against AIDS is proclaimed.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Young love

An honest seven-year-old admitted calmly to her parents that Billy Brown had kissed her after class. "How did that happen?" gasped her mother. "It wasn't easy," admitted the young lady, "but three girls helped me catch him."

Sent by Virginia in Millvile

Judging

We have rejected the light burden of condemning ourselves, and we have chosen to carry the heavy one of justifying ourselves and condemning others.

—Abba John

Sent by John Stamps
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