Thursday, 12 November 2009

It was a post-punk standard for a reason

"Jerusalem" became a post-punk standard precisely because it was already a standard, but only in a segment of society which that generation rightly believed had distorted it and turned a radical socialist statement into a complacent hymn of praise to the very quasi-feudal way of existence it originally attacked: there was a wholly justified desire to reclaim it. Like the works of Powell & Pressburger or indeed Selling England by the Pound, it can be almost anything politically depending on the spin being put on it (I remember Gilbert Adair comparing and contrasting Arrows of Desire, Ian Christie's masterly study of P&P's works, with - yes, quite, exactly - Chariots of Fire, the New Heritage Right's rallying call when they were so nearly overthrown before they'd really begun), but the post-punk generation used it for a reason, and a very good one, akin to my own "reclaim the countryside" rhetoric at the beginning of this decade - it was taken back into the hands of those who need it, given the radicalism and crucial ambiguity it always deserved, reclaimed from those who distorted it as Major did to Orwell, and it is because of that generation that it can burn at the end of the "Dirtee Cash" video and you don't feel, ever, for one moment, that it deserves to be burnt.

Still no defence for either the ELP or Fat Les versions, though.

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