John Harris

Journalist & Author

In mourning Bowie we mourn the end of an era when art could truly subvert | John Harris

The generation that led the golden age of rock gave us a new sense of possibility. Now, the barriers they helped dismantle are going back up

“Most rock stars are about 70 years old these days,” wrote the music critic Kate Mossman on the death in 2013 of Lou Reed, and she was not wrong. Fifty or so years after they began blazing a trail into a new world, we refuse to let go of the pop-cultural generation born in the 1940s, even though their creative lights have usually long dimmed – though that, obviously, is hardly the point. When the Rolling Stones played Glastonbury in 2013, I watched a crowd of twentysomethings stand within eyeshot of the main stage, wait for a close-up of Mick Jagger on the big screens, take selfies, and then disappear again. Evidently, the performance was less something to immerse oneself in than a kind of living Mount Rushmore.

Related: Gender maverick, David Bowie | Grayson Perry

This was the age in which a new sense of individuality replaced the idea of meekly taking one’s place in the masses

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