Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Inevitably, it was a self-portrait."

Blank Generation album original cover shot by Robert Bayley
Richard Hell, from his absorbing autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp:
People still always ask me what the song “Blank Generation” means. If I trust them, I might tell them it was partly a joke, a joke that was meant to be understood by people compatible enough with me to get the joke, being that it was also a personal ad addressed to those “people compatible enough.” But it was also a description of a state of consciousness that came from having lived through what people my age had lived through: the Vietnam War, the inevitable failure of the flower children, the exposed corruption and venality of the politicians, the sleaziness of patriotism, the flood of drugs, and the overwhelming media data flow of the late sixties and early seventies. That had been numbing and alienating, but, yes, In wearing away all your illusions, it did leave you in a place where the option of remaking yourself from scratch did come to mind. But really the song was an evasion of explanation, as most all attempts to write something decent are. Inevitably it was a self-portrait, still. "I was saying let me out of here before I was even born," it began.

Photograph via I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.

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