Sunday, January 12, 2020

the last book I ever read (Me by Elton John, excerpt two)

from Me by Elton John:

Sixty years on, it’s hard to explain how revolutionary and shocking rock and roll seemed. Not just the music: the whole culture it represented, the clothes and the films and the attitude. It felt like the first thing that teenagers really owned, that was aimed exclusively at us, that made us feel different from our parents, that made us feel we could achieve something. It’s also hard to explain the extent to which the older generation despised it. Take every example of moral panic pop music has provoked since – punk and gangster rap, mods and rockers and heavy metal - then add them all together and double it: that’s how much outrage rock and roll caused. People fucking hated it. And no one hated it more than my father. He obviously disliked the music itself – he liked Frank Sinatra – but more than that, he hated its social impact, he thought the whole thing was morally wrong: ‘Look at the way they dress, the way they act, swiveling their hips, showing their dicks. You are not to get involved.’ If I did, I was going to turn into something called a wide boy. A wide boy, in case you don’t know, is an old British term for a kind of petty criminal – a confidence trickster, someone who does a bit of wheeler-dealing or runs the odd scam. Presumably already alive to the thought that I might go off the rails thanks to my inability to eat celery in the correct way, he resolutely believed that rock and roll was going to result in my utter degradation. The mere mention of Elvis or Little Richard would set him off on an angry lecture in which my inevitable transformation into a wide boy figured heavily: one minute I’d be happily listening to ‘Good Golly Miss Molly,’ the next thing you knew, I was apparently going to be fencing stolen nylons or duping people into playing Find-the-Lady on the mean streets of Pinner.

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