Author Michael Moorcock, interviewed by Ben Graham at The Quietus

“I’m actually very anti-nostalgia, but I am interested in the past… I’m nostalgic for 1967, because that was when I was young and having a wickedly good time, but that’s about it. I knew that the 60s weren’t going to last, and so I decided that this is a golden age, and that it’s probably got about another 10 years, and I’m going to get everything I can out of it! And I had a great time. When people say, this didn’t happen or that didn’t happen, well, you weren’t there mate, you know! So yeah, that’s the only nostalgia I have, and even that, you know… I was also doing bad things as well, just bad things that everybody does, as it were.

“The thing was, everyone was in Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill at that time; there were bands everywhere, and you felt that there was something wrong with you if you didn’t play some sort of fretted instrument! Almost everybody did, and I’d been in bands before that; right from the 50s; I’d been in a skiffle group, and I made that transition to blues, R&B, the way a lot of people did. And then I’d kind of given it up because I found it was more comfortable to sit there working in a chair than sitting in the back of an old van, and then being screwed when you got to a gig, the usual sort of crap. So I just stopped doing it. I’ve said this a lot of times but I think it’s actually worth saying: a lot of us did this, we went for rock & roll and science fiction because they weren’t respectable, and there was no criticism at all. There were no magazines that dealt with it; there was no body of criticism. There was nothing. Melody Maker, if you were lucky, you got a cartoon of Elvis Presley in the back, and they didn’t think it was going to last.

“But it was something that you could make of it what you wanted. So you went into the studio – when you went into the studio – not really knowing what you were going to do. And sometimes it was better than you thought it was going to be. Sometimes it was bloody awful. But again, it was just that sense of having something that was your own. I think that gaming [role-playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Runequest, which frequently drew on Moorcock’s work] became that for another generation, and there’s other stuff that goes on. I think if you’re 18, you’re always going to be looking for something where there isn’t your dad telling you, you know, how it should be or how it used to be. You’d rather somebody said ‘what the hell are you doing, wasting your time?’ Now it’s a respectable career. ‘Dad, I want to be a rock & roll musician!’ ‘Okay, we’ll send you to rock & roll school!’ And it’s just not, you know, who wants to do that?

“I think the 60s were really about ’63 to about ‘75; I mean what people call the 60s. I see it as finally ending with Stiff’s last tour. That was for me the kind of end of it all, the last record company that had come up from nothing, that was really going after new talent, that was really wide open to pretty much anything, a very broad spectrum of popular music. And classical music, if anybody had gone to see it. I know [Stiff label boss] Jake Riviera, if somebody had said to Jake, come on Jake, let’s get Birtwhistle, he’d probably have said yeah, alright, great, let’s try it. And that was in a sense what the so-called sixties were all about. But it also happened because there were huge amounts of money, and we were the richest kids that had ever been, and have ever been. That went as well. I think the tricks that Margaret Thatcher played on us all put the money into the hands of the powerful people who were interested in money. But for a short while the money was in the hands of people who were actually interested in doing something with the money.”

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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