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England's Dreaming: Jon Savage

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In a new introduction to the book on its 30th anniversary, published here in full, the designer Scott King and the artist Jeremy Deller sat down to discuss the huge impact the book had on them as they came of age in the early 1990s. How we read it The econcomic situation was different at that time, but that's the beauty of this book: it sets everything in a social, political and musical context, which enables you to grasp how and why it was so provocative and important. People say all sorts of silly stuff about young people. Each generation has its own task in its own time and its own particular set of circumstances. To call today’s teenagers or twentysomethings inauthentic because they like old stuff is just nonsense. What I’ve observed is that young people take the bits they want.

England’s Dreaming introduced me to the power of urban

Over the past 40years, Savage has gone from revered ​ ’70s/​early ​ ’80s NME/​ Sounds and FACE journalist to one of Britain’s most trusted cultural historians. He was at the centre of punk in the ​ ’70s, publishing on-the-ground reports for the weekly music press (the ​ “inkies”) and his self-published fanzine, London’s Outrage. The latter was the purest recording of asubcultural explosion, made on aphotocopier at an office where Savage was working, and catching the energetic highs of afebrile youth explosion – moments like Shane MacGowan’s ear-biting incident at aClash gig in 1976. Frohman, Jesse (2014). Kurt Cobain: The Last Session. Contributions by Jon Savage and Glenn O'Brien. London: Thames & Hudson. This an insightful record of the Sex Pistols' formation and their short and frantic career that helped change British music and challenged on aBritish society on a number of levels.

I’d like to think we’re the most sustainably-minded generation yet, making conscious efforts in any which way we can to reverse climate change, somehow.

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Do you think the death of the democratic consumer will lead to a death in subcultures? A lot of people already say subcultures no longer exist, I guess because they aren’t as glaringly obvious as they once were. Oh, that’s a good question. Youth culture is changing considerably, and I think for deeper reasons than a whole load of crap television programmes like I Love the 1980s, to be honest.You could say its the definitive guide. Jon Savage was there - in some photos, and the text is interspersed with his own diary extracts. You can tell the amount of research he has completed before you get to the bibliography at the end. In July 1993, Kurt Cobain gave a dramatically candid interview to Jon Savage in which he freely discussed such controversial topics as Courtney Love, homosexuality, heroin and Cobain's relationship with his Nirvana bandmates. Conducted with Cobain the night before the now-infamous shoot with legendary photographer Jesse Frohman, and just months before the frontman's death. I remember in May 1997, the morning after the Labour landslide, when I was allowed to stay up most of the night, going to an Asda somewhere on the M27 and moping around the aisles thinking: “Nothing here is going to change.” Savage, meanwhile, described a landscape everyone apparently found unbearable, but which sounded thrilling to me – “after Ballard’s High Rise and Crash, it was possible to see high-rises as both appalling and vertiginously exciting”. This appalling excitement he perhaps too kindly ascribes to the sound of the early Clash.

Jon Savage - Wikipedia Jon Savage - Wikipedia

Predictions for apost-pandemic future are all over the shop. Will the nine-to-five resume? Four-day weekends? Four-day benders? Something great could be on the horizon. The first two of the book’s many epigraphs were from Jonathan Raban’s Soft City – “In the city we can change our identities at will” – and Lionel Bart’s Oliver! – “We wander through London, who knows what we might find?” How could you refuse? Perfect Motion- Jon Savage's Secret History of Second-Wave Psychedelia 1988-93 (Caroline True Records 2015)

Do You Have The Force? -Jon Savage's Alternate History Of Electronica 1978-82 (Caroline True Records 2020)

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