If an anachronism is something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time, as the English dictionary seem to suggest, then I’m a big, fat anachronism. My clock is set to the 70’s and 80’s and I have difficulty relating to the speed, carelessness and superficiality of today’s world. The feeling is even more inescapable this week, because this week we lost Scott Walker and Ranking Roger, two artists who can be called anachronistic in the uncompromising way they pursued their artistic vision, often against the grain, often contradicting the latest trend or fashion.
My musical heroes die in quick succession. When times are hard and my youth not only disappears but literally dies, I automatically return to what I know best, my musical equivalent of comfort food. Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, Joy Division’s ‘Closer’, the sweeter and more romantic side of The Velvet Underground, The Stooges at their meanest and rawest, the genre-bending rock machine called The Clash, endless servings of Krautrock, the Kraftwerk Man-Machine and the experimental albums of Radiohead.
Even so, shouldn’t I listen to the only song (I know) with anachronism in its title, Dresden Doll’s ‘Girl Anachronism’ left me speechless the first time I heard it and even today continues to have the same effect. It’s Ziggy Stardust in a different era, at a different speed, created with a different set of instruments. One of those rare instances of complete harmony between form and content. I feel the restless unhappiness, if not downright bipolarity, of this anachronistic girl in the disjointed structure of the song, the speed and nervousness of Amanda Palmer’s delivery and in the way piano and drums try to outperform and control each other (and never succeed).
And most magically, I listen and get transported back to 1970’s New York, London or Berlin. The ruins of a financially and morally bankrupt city. Nothing beautiful, just dirt, decay, violence and noise. I’m back home.