Sunday, February 19, 2012

Inspiration Location

I just read Love Goes To Buildings On Fire, a book by Will Hermes about the music scene in New York from 1973 to 1977.  It offers a cross section of the amazing ferment going on then, though I mostly read it for the development of punk, centered at CBGBs (and central to the book--you might recognize the title as being inspired by Talking Heads' first single).  Full of entertaining anecdotes and a solid sense of history, I'd recommend it.

What's different about the book is instead of following one story at a time, we get short sections--sometimes paragraphs--jumping from one scene in the city to another.  This was happening here while this was happening here while this was happening here (sometimes including what the author was doing as a young fan).

Having it presented this way, I have to wonder, was this a special time, or just a time interesting to Hermes (and me)? Certainly for punk it was special, but are there always all sorts of musical and artistic currents sweeping over NYC, or does the inspiration wax and wane?

And if it was special, is it no longer quite the same because conditions have changed?  You've always got young, ambitious people (don't you?) without much money, but was New York more amenable to a new scene back then? Sure, the up and comers lived in horrible places when they were starting out, but could anyone still move into Manhattan, or has it become so expensive that new artistic movements have to be born in Brooklyn, or Hoboken, or even farther away?

PS  The song in the video was not on Talking Heads: 77, though it was included in the reissue a few years back.


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