Rock reaches Mongolia (no Who)

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Dec 16 06:01:42 CST 2004

Just a brief mention of Pete Townshend but this
article fascinated me. Rock 'n' rebellion has finally
reached Mongolia! This is from The UB Post, Mongolia's
Independent English Weekly News,

Hurd banned in China - Mongolian rock in a world
(TheUBPost, 16 Dec 2004 02:28 am ULAT. 0 comments) 
By Gerald Marchewka
The UB Post staff

During the last half of the 20th century rock music
became an inseparable part of the vast popular culture
in the English speaking world. Lyrics like “I hope I
die before I get old” from Pete Townshend’s My
Generation, “ Then you better start swimmin or you’ll
sink like a stone” from Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are
A Changin and “Old man take a look at yourself I’m a
lot like you were” from Neil Young’s classic Old Man
became part of the reservoir of popular culture that
flowed through the minds of a large number of people
both young and old. 

But if we look to the origin of this pop music we find
that its beginning was characterized by a rebellious
sentiment that has permeated the musical genre since
it first began. In fact a cursory review of the
history of the term rock n’ roll reveals that it was
first used by American musicians during the early part
of the 20th century. It was quite frankly an unabashed
reference to the act of sexual intercourse. This term
no doubt raised more than just a few eyebrows.

Elvis Presley for example, the infamous American icon,
was certainly the focus of considerable controversy.
In the late 1950’s American television networks
refused to film the singer from below the waist. It
was argued that his tendency to sway his seductive
hips in rhythm to the tune made him more than just a
little risque. This story became an integral part of
Americana, things typical of American culture or

Ironically at the dawn of the 20th century we find
that the rock phenomenon is, for better or worse, in
the guise of different names, playing itself out in
different lands and various cultures across the globe.
And in many respects the risks and dangers are even
greater. In the wide open spaces of Mongolia for
example, seemingly far removed from the trappings of
western culture, the rock n’ roll controversy
continues. The quintessential Mongolian rock band Hurd
was banned from performing in Inner Mongolia, China.
The reason however is not sexual but political.

Hurd, the Mongolian wonder-band, has among its many
talents the phenomenal ability to integrate Mongolian
contemporary culture into a brief four-minute song.
And the youth of Mongolia love it. They are provided
with a new opportunity to celebrate their own way of
life in a way that is suitable perhaps only for them.
For this they should be commended. And perhaps this
phenomenon is not so difficult to understand, as the
Mongolian people are a proud hardworking resilient
bunch. And they are situated between two major world
powers, Russia and China.

This surely exacerbates their acute awareness of
history. For Mongolians about eight hundred years ago
controlled a vast territory that stretched from
Southeast Asia to Europe covering 13.8 square miles or
more than 35 million square kilometers. But today it
is perhaps reasonable to conclude that young
Mongolians are just attempting to make their modest
mark on an ever changing modern world. Perhaps the
whole rock n’ roll exercise is merely an exercise in
Mongolian self-assertion.

However the significance of this self-assertion may
not be fully understood for years. And surely more
than a few American social critics have argued against
the evils of rock n’ roll for several decades. They
have held it responsible for everything from an
escalating divorce rate, truancy, and teenage
masturbation the most heinous crimes.

With this in mind it is more than a little ironic and
slightly comic that the notorious Rolling Stones, the
British rock band were granted permission to play in
China. With just a few restrictions they were given
the green light by the government, provided they would
omit a few songs from their play-list. Just a few
years ago this would have been unheard of. But today
the Chinese government may see these gray-haired
weather-beaten old men just as a small means to
improve the ever-growing economy. They are no longer
examples of spiritual pollution and must no longer be
purged from the minds of the great proletarian youth.

So we must ask ourselves why is the communist
government afraid of Hurd. Speculators have indicated
that the Chinese government is perhaps worried about
age-old ethnic tensions between Mongolians and
Chinese. And as Mongolia is molding itself into a very
impressive young democracy perhaps the risk of a
pan-Mongolian united front from across the border and
into China’s Inner Mongolia is more than it can take.

But if we sweep politics aside and focus upon the
merits of the music, it is quite difficult not to
admire this young group of musicians. With a unique
ability to ply their way into the hearts of Mongolia’s
youth, we can only hope that they will continue to
find a creative outlet for their music. If anything,
the international attention spurred by their latest
round of publicity may be a sign of good things to
come. We can therefore at least in all sincerity wish
them the best of luck. In the spirit of rock n’ roll:
“C’mon baby let the good times roll”.

-Brian in Atlanta
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