Back in the day- and these days, more and more of us are going back to those days because, well, it was where everything that actually meant anything, especially music- Rock fans couldn’t wait to get their hands on the latest issue of Rolling Stone. There was Crawdaddy, Creem and the Village Voice, but when in 1967 Jann Wenner published Rolling Stone working out of a warehouse in San Francisco, it took journalism- Rock journalism up a notch. If the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, then Rolling Stone was the bible.
“Aiiyah, I know Mr Hans. Not like before. Very much boring.” It was a longtime staffer at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong agreeing with me when I told him I had to flee the hotel’s Champagne Bar after suffering from an acute attack of terminal boredom coupled with major depression to see what was such a popular meeting place with a loyal group of regulars become more like Le Rue Morgue and shunned with everyone looking for greener pastures. But these days, greener pastures almost everywhere in the world are more of a whiter shade of pale. And listening to all the reminiscing about the “good old days” is as maudlin as hearing Mary Hopkin sing how “Those Were The Days”. What the hell happened to Mary Hopkin, anyway? And the good old days? What happened to just about everything that made living easy and the cotton high?
It’s the technique not the idea. It’s something my mentor in advertising- Keith Reinhard- used to make all his creative directors understand, especially during a time when when the art director was more interested in how “beautiful” a print ad should look like and the copywriter was asked to shorten the headline to fit the layout. It was also the time when there was an almost overnight generation of commercials directors and editors who, so influenced by MTV, wanted television commercials to look like music videos.
It’s just not happening, is it? The more you leave Hong Kong and the more you get out there and meet and listen to bands and artists in places like Scandinavia, Melbourne, even in Singapore, one realises just what a music wasteland there is here- a so-called “scene” comprising the usual suspects and a pocketful of mumbles that are way too often known as mediocrity. It’s come to a point where it’s so hard to to stomach this pandemic of mediocrity and copycats and ageing musicians with no direction of home that there’s a need to let it all out like one long belch to get rid of the frustrations.
It’s just not good enough. Nothing’s any longer good enough. Even most women are no longer good enough. Neither is anything around us. What’s made us take this backward step? Has technology made things better? Or have we allowed it to take us wherever it wanted to that we now want to turn everything around and start all over again because we realise that new isn’t better and we have no idea where we are and what we’re doing?
As with anything it doesn’t understand, the Hong Kong government either ignores it, or else places various stumbling blocks to ensure that it’s silenced. And music should never ever be silenced. But unless it’s classical music or Canto Pop or one of those “nostalgia” concerts by someone from the Sixties singing the hits of Elvis, Herman’s Hermits and others from that era, those in the government given the power to issue all those various licenses needed to have music seen, heard and enjoyed, turn a deaf ear to it all. They’ve never heard of Dylan’s line, “Don’t criticise what you can’t understand”.
Let’s not forget that Hong Kong must have been one of the only countries that never accepted the sex, drugs and Rock and Roll of the Woodstock generation, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles when they tripped out, grew moustaches and beards, and recorded the equally trippy Revolver.