Every generation, I suppose, has its layer of mood music; the superficial, but defining brand that helps us give some semblance of identity to an era. In the Sixties, it was what was then called "permissiveness". That in itself is a revealing word, telling us that we needed, and gave ourselves, permission to do things that were normally considered taboo. In fact, many films, album covers, and other icons of pop culture from the 1960's are so abhorrent to us that they are either banned or illegal forty years on. The Sixties gave us some of the best modern art and some of the best popular music.
In the Seventies we yearned for the future and we had an era of technological superlatives, beginning with Concorde and the Moon landing, which appeared at the tail-end of the previous decade. Music became futuristic, with bands like Roxy Music who changed the way records sounded. Considering that their debut album was completed less than three years after The Beatles' Abbey Road, it represents a remarkable leap in style. The Seventies became a time of cynicism, when it became apparent that the hippy ideal of the previous decade was predicated largely on bullshit and large quantities of dope. It ended with a great deal of fragmentation; of labour, of music and of family values - which had hitherto more or less held together. The only breath of fresh air was the Punk revolution which demonstrated that you could not control the agenda (at least the musical agenda) from the top. Of course, even this was tamed once the suits realised what a cash cow it was.
The 1980's were the period of conspicuous consumption. As someone said, it was almost impossible not to make money. Music too reflected the decadence and the brash consumerism. Technology gave us the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1982, whilst on our Walkmans we were listening to the Human League and "Don't you want me?" The song was bombastic and cynical; a paradigm of the burgeoning culture of celebrity and it's throwaway social ramifications.
In the 1990's I was busy surviving and frankly, do not remember much about what was going on in the outside world, but for me, that decade is not so given to easy summation. Yes, many significant things happened, such as the emergence of the World Wide Web, and many significant seeming things happened such as the release of Nelson Mandela, but I have no available spin to put on it as a cultural era - the mood music -, save that it marked the transition from the 80's to the Noughties.
I remember, just before the turn of the century, wanting to make sure I was with those I love and value the most. It was as if something very momentous might happen, and I just wanted to be sure I could be there, with them. Just in case. I had done the same sometime before, when in August 11, 1999 me and mine ascended Solsbury Hill and watched in silence and awe as the Sun underwent a near total eclipse. I was already ready to be fearful of what the new Millenium held. Something primeval was about to happen, something that would send us into a tailspin of belief in witches and demons and religions of gods of revenge and fear.
And so it was. The New Millenium and the "Noughties" were about one thing: the ease with which the human soul can be cowed and compromised by fear and intimidation was apparent in a way not obvious in history since Nazi Germany. This was the decade of terror, global terror, and our visceral response to it. This was the decade of the new religion of Green, of Political Correctness - a fallacy so breathtakingly obvious in its nihilistic and self-contradictory nature that I never cease to believe why people are so taken in by it. Yes, we had reason to be fearful; the events of 11th September 2001 saw to that. We had reason to be concerned about the environment - we must make better use of the planet's resources. We need to understand that minorities are more vulnerable than the majority, especially when they are singled out for preposterously silly reasons. But all of these have become a negative force. We are beset by rules and social codes that betray our fear of our fellow humans, and worse, our loathing. It has come upon us, without anticipation. We have sleepwalked into a bizarre era of dis-enlightenment.
We live in a period of severe curtailment of personal freedoms, so severe and so tyrannical that it makes the Spanish Inquisition look a model of benignity. And nobody expected that, either.