The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Friday, June 02, 2006


Through no fault of my own, have been hearing a fair bit of frog rock recently, including the perennially silly "Je t' non plus". It's worth reflecting that Jane Birkin will be 60 this December, and it makes you wonder if, were she our mother or aunt, we wouldn't be a tad embarrassed at her heavy breathing being broadcast for the benefit of all. In a personal or family context, this sort of thing would be locked away, only occasionally brought out for reminiscing with one's peers or amusing the children. Stuck on a public record, of course, it becomes timeless.

And, as Barry Norman used to say, why not? It chills me to see a pensioner with a book on Frank Zappa, and it amuses me to see a student with a biography of Edie Sedgwick. The uses of the '60s. In the early '90s, when I was a student, we looked back to it for inspiration - read the Beats and Hunter S. Thompson, listened to the Velvet Underground and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Frank was on the back of the bathroom door, sitting on the can with his pants around his ankles. So it should be. There's an excellent essay by Harlan Ellison called "The Song the Sixties Sang" which lays out why they were, and are, important. No young person's education is complete without knowing something about them, and being fired by it.


At 5 June 2006 at 21:11 , Blogger Joe said...

Turn on, tune in and rop out, man. Or these days, log in, download and blog, man. Oh and take lots of drugs. And write Gonzo style whenever you feel the urge.

At 8 June 2006 at 14:19 , Blogger Yvonne said...

I remember that poster of Frank Zappa too!

I'd have to add to your list of essential 60s reading/listening/viewing (in no particular order):

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Ken Kesey), The Doors, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Hairspray (not actually made in the 60s, but what the hell).

At 10 June 2006 at 18:27 , Blogger Joe said...

Actually thinking more on this, perhaps we should add not only the lasting influence of the 60s but also the 70s in the shape of Punk. Not so much the music but the whole attitude which saw kids recording and making their own records, setting up their own labels, clubs, writing and printing their own 'zines. I still see that Punk attitude in a lot of areas today from guerilla film-makers, folk making their own music and setting them up as online MP3s, gonzo blogging... That's why I like to blog wearing my tartan bondage trousers :-)

At 12 June 2006 at 23:10 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Agreed. While the '60s ethos of hope seems to be pretty much sealed off in the past, the spirit of punk can still be found today, being deliberately drawn on by people who weren't even born when it first kicked off. It's easy to dismiss idealists - or to buy them out - less easy to do the same with people who're just plain fuckin' angry.

At 12 June 2006 at 23:16 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Though it was the '60s we mourned not living in. That seemed to be the high point from which everything had gone downhill. They seemed to be more exciting, and among other things, people seemed to get laid quite often. Alan Spence has a description of '60s Edinburgh in his novel The Magic Flute.


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