Standing with Charlie

You all know that kid—the one who feels he (or she—we’re equal opportunity outcasts around here) belongs to a different era. For that matter, a lot of you probably were that kid. I was. And as much as hipsters idolize and idealize it, you know as well as I that it was never fun being out of step with the pace of pop culture. But something occurred to me while watching some live footage of The Smiths a few nights ago—and I’m speaking purely from a musical perspective here—while the look and sound of cool is in a state of continual flux, the only constant in popular culture is the small handful who aren’t buying it and who won’t buy into it.

In the 80s, while MTV was doing unholy things with synthesizers, they were chanting ‘Hang the DJ!’ along with Morrissey. And in the 90s, out of sync with the Backstreet Boys, they treated their disillusionment with regular doses of Tigermilk. But things are looking particularly bleak these days. With another tween sensation rolling off the ARK Music Factory assembly line every hour on the hour, I’m starting to think Morrissey’s focus in meting out musical vengeance was a little too narrow. And, apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way. Charlie Atlantic has had enough.

I know it’s been a while (it was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea), but you might remember Charlie from the band InLight. He’s back, all on his own, and out to reclaim music for the musicians, the poets, and people who in general just can’t be bothered with headset microphones. With the release of his new Lost Generation EP approaching, he is out this week with a new song (‘Dido and Aeneas’) and An Open Letter to Everyone Who Still Likes Music.

Of course, we’re not the only lost generation, but a lot has changed since that first one. Back then, ‘the biggest difference in the world [was] between the amateur and the professional in the arts’. Presumably, in the days of Save The Last Waltz, professionals like the author (whose 111st birthday is in July and, yes, I will be throwing a party) spent years toiling away at their craft. F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t just buy The Great Gatsby the way Rebecca Black’s mother bought ‘Friday’. So, I guess somewhere along the way, we inverted the issue. These days, I suppose, it’s the amateurs who slave away in dive bars, honing their craft while the so-called professionals get stupid haircuts and try to get their homework after soundcheck for their arena tour.

And, yes, I know there is some kind of unspoken agreement that we as a generation are intent on reclaiming the ‘slacker’ moniker from Gen X and many people recently have gone out of their way to explain how uncool it is to summon anything but contempt for everything. But I, for one, am glad that someone like Charlie is willing to take a stand, as so many of you have and do. And I’ll continue to stand with him.


2 thoughts on “Standing with Charlie

  1. Eric, this reminds me how much I love Charlie and how much I love you and TIH. The same thing has happened in literature. The most influential voice in modern literary fiction in the UK is the ezine 3:am whose reach extends everywhere. Its slogan is “whatever it is, we’re against it” – brutalism, blankness, cynicism are everywhere, and they’re hip and cool. And they are utterly inimical to the beating heart of culture. We’re taking a stand against it in literature with our New Libertines movement ( and I’m right behind Charlie and what he’s doing with music.

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