Wednesday, 2 January 2013
When you think about it, gold is a fairly rare subject for pop music, despite its deep metaphysical significance, and its emergence seems particularly odd in the context of the Britain of the early '80's, which was experiencing another of its regular post-war step-changes into deeper decline, with unemployment rocketing and urban youth expressing its disquiet in regular rioting. And yet, this music, and the Klimt-esque artwork that encased it, evoked a halcyon feeling.
Actually the paintings of Gustav Klimt may give us a clue. After all, he produced his work during the decline of another empire, that of Austria-Hungary. The products of decline are not only poverty and misery, but a corresponding decadence, an aimless luxe. Punk always wavered ambivalently between them both, transmuting supposed street urchins into little princes and princesses.
Gold, with its imperviousness to adulteration, is also the tradtional nemesis of the financiers, who were at this very moment waiting in the wings to give Britain its final false boom, a thirty-year odyssey of delusion and waste. It would perhaps be a stretch to suggest that these evocations of gold, far from being celebrations of consumption, were attempts to project "wealth" as having a psycho-spiritual component. But in lieu of any better explanations, I'm tempted to go with it....