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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Saturday, 6 August 2005

Topic: The Culture

Cultural Notes: Changing the World, One Song at a Time

Reuters reported from London on Friday, August 5, the results of the poll in the magazine Uncut. That poll was to find the one hundred songs, movies, television shows and books that "changed the world" in the opinion of musicians, actors and industry experts. (This was the magazine's one hundredth issue after all.) Readers in the UK can check out the results in detail in hard copy - the magazine doesn't provide the results online. Online there's only notes on what didn't make the cut, so to speak. So we here in the States must take Reuters' word for the winners.

Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965) won - of all the songs and movies and books and whatnot, this most "changed the world," if one is to believe the likes of Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, Robert Downey Jr, Keith Richards and Lou Reed. Oh yeah, add Edward Norton and ex-Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" was in second place.

Patti Smith on the Dylan song: "I absolutely remember where I was when I first heard it. It got me through adolescence." Really? She might have made it anyway, with or without Dylan.

Paul McCartney, who voted for "Heartbreak Hotel" explains why: "It's the way (Presley) sings it as if he is singing from the depths of hell. His phrasing, use of echo, it's all so beautiful. Musically, it's perfect." So Sir Paul is being technical, not personal.

Third place? The Beatles' "She Loves You."

Fourth place? The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

Fifth? The highest-ranking film - Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."

Sixth were "The Godfather" and "The Godfather II" films.

Television was not represented until you got to the tenth slot, and there you'd find "The Prisoner" (1967) - as close as television comes to Kafka, at least intentionally. If you don't know the show see this.

What about books? The first one shows up at number nineteen in the poll - Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."

Whatever. At the heart of this is the idea that songs, movies, television shows and books do, in fact, change the world. Perhaps they do, but asking musicians, actors and industry dudes may have not been the best idea. Should have asked George Bush, or the new pope, or Tony Blair, or Nelson Mandela.

Of course Uncut is not that sort of magazine, but it would have been interesting.

Posted by Alan at 12:31 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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