Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The 1970's

Looking back over the last few videos I posted this evening, I realise that having been a teenager in the 1970's was more or less the best thing that could have happened to anyone, at least if you liked sport and pop music. Football and cricket were overrun with incredible personalities - the Aussies previously mentioned, the Chappell brothers, Barry Richards, Gordon Greenidge (OK, Hampshire was my team), Tony Grieg, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood, the West Indians, like Viv Richards, Andy Roberts etc; the list goes on. Tennis had Ilie Nastase, Gerulaitis, Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Roscoe Tanner. Hell, an Englishwoman even won Wimbledon in that decade (Virginia Wade, for any pagans there may be out there). Like any male teenager, I fancied Chris Evert and was mortified when she married John Lloyd. The varied palette of diversely-skilled tennis players sadly disappeared after the '70's and morphed into one all-round opposition killer for each gender: Pete Sampras for the men and Martina Navratilova for the, er, women. OK, they lost occasionally, but there was nothing like the variety of victors we'd been able to witness, before. On an overcast day, Roscoe Tanner's amazing serve would swing and spin and dispatch Jimmy Connors in straight sets; under different weather conditions there'd be another result. Gerulaitis would run Borg to five sets; a juvenile McEnroe would take a set off Connors; still basically a child, Tracy Austin took a game off Chris Evert. Behemoths now rule the game: Nadal, Federer and, until recently, the Williams sisters. Occasionally a Goran Ivanisovic would win a major tournament but there'd be nothing like the variety in victory you'd find in other sports. That's the power of the 1970's for you; I've just written about 200 words on a sport I've not followed for over thirty years.

There were so many different kinds of pop music in the '70's, too. Motown was churning out high-quality groups pretty much every month, most of whom, it appears, didn't survive longer than one single; there was Genesis, Yes, ELP, Mike Oldfield released Tubular Bells; there was Ska, Reggae, Blue Beat, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Who, Psychobilly, the lot. No crap Rap, either. As the decade started to wither we got Soft Cell, Regent, The Human League and, soon after, The Teardrop Explodes, Simple Minds, Spandau Ballet, to name just a few. Oh, what about UB40?

It was a great time to be young. Now it's a great time to be middle-aged as things are palpably so much worse we have a wonderful excuse to moan about everything, just like our age group is required to do. However, just when I feel like launching a tirade against rap 'music' or the computer-generated shite which passes for instrumentals, I either open one of my Wagner or Puccini scores or reach for a Donald Fagen CD and realise I have nothing to complain about. When you're young, you feel duty-bound to be mindful of every trend, have an opinion about all information. When you get older, you just don't give a shit, anymore. Don't like it? Don't listen. Simple.

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