Culture Void & Pandemic

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders was interviewed in 2014 where she touched upon situational anecdotes, spontaneity, and setbacks during her rise to fame. Artists of the late 70’s and 80’s had more of life experience even in their youth to draw upon while creating their art. In fact physical art and modeling were in her background while forming the Pretenders which arose primarily as a result that no other band would have her. Let’s examine why I reference her in contemplating culture void and a modern day pandemic.  

The interview got me thinking about listening to The Pretenders back in the 80s not knowing at the time band personnel behind the song “Back in The Chain Gang” and “Brass In Pocket”. There were so many pop ‘80s bands creating melody that we thought that this would always be the way. However; we’ve come to learn that the era was extraordinary for one hit wonders and catchy pop riffs. The scene was tight inspiring collaboration. Simple Minds had connected with Chrissie (in fact she had married front man Jim Kerr) while touring and the connection for me resolves with my everlasting affinity for Simple Mind’s “New Gold Dream”.

It’s been 18 months now and our youth have not had access to live events – musical or otherwise which are occasions which cement memories and this has been collateral damage of the pandemic. I really empathise with the opportunity cost in intangible terms. I recall such joy when going to see movie classics such as “Saturday Night Fever”, “Grease”, “Bad News Bears”, and “The Breakfast Club”. Concerts such as Tina Turner, John Cougar, and April Wine stirred the spirit. A bit later, there were the dance clubs playing New Order tracks from their double album “Substance” amidst the strobe lights and ambience. Disco still carried an influence and attire mattered out in the clubs. Friends would swap physical LPs and the actual vinyl would serve as reminders of the tracks for discussion. Some sleeves would even carry lyrics. College dorm lounges served as meet ups for night life forays.

From my viewpoint, culture was running stale pre-pandemic and now it’s naturally become worse. Despite initiatives with funding the few newer venues have lacked the warmth and appeal typified by a place engrained with history. Older venues haven’t been able to keep up the rent and too few philanthropists were quick enough to save old halls. Chrissie had stepped out and had somewhere to go. Certainly urban planning decisions have also played a role in retracement of culture in Canada. Will there be a day when the suburbanites with their fenced yard and double attached garage look back and wonder what happened to their Friday and Saturday nights?