Here in the dawning weeks of the 5th decade of my life, I can’t help but look back to the first decade. I’m actually weirdly proud that I remember the 1970s, a time that has taken on something of a tinge of legend among the youth of today. The 70s saw: walking on the moon become commonplace, open omnisexuality, the first instances of open distrust of politicians, the birth of the microcomputer, the first steps toward the Internet, and –perhaps most importantly– the rise of creative mainstream art, yet to be overwhelmed by the forces of marketing and skittish corporate agendas. Only in the 1970s could we have had movies like The Godfather and Last Tango In Paris, or the arrival of Deep Throat as mainstream “cool” porn, or the ascension of inconoclastic musical themes, like glam rock, punk rock and disco.
Despite all this, I have very bad memories of the 1970s. For this brown-skinned immigrant kid growing up in the intolerant Toronto of those days, it was a time of extreme racism, discomfort and unhappiness. But we all get over our childhoods, no? (At least those of us who don’t become serial killers, that is). And middle age presents us with an opportunity to reconsider the era of our youth with an eye untainted by the biases of our individual circumstance. Looking back, I suddenly feel a rush of nostalgia for that lost decade.
And I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment. The Smashing Pumpkins hit song “1979” is one of nostalgic melancholy, after all. And one of my favourite TV Shows, That 70s Show, attains greatness when it touches that chord of regret and nostalgia in each of us. In its pilot, at the closing credits, the kids all sing along to one of the great, moving songs of that decade, Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me.” Appropriately, I’m told they played the same clip for the series’ finale, years later.
In case you missed it, here’s that clip:
But that’s a 21st century interpretation of the feel and emotion of the 1970s. For the real thing, watch this actual clip of Todd Rundgren doing the song. The fascinating part is that Rundgren looks like an absolute freak. But back then, that was okay, even desirable. Enjoy: