My son was playing old David Bowie tracks recently and one of them was ‘Oh You Pretty Things,’ from Hunky Dory, an album which I adored and must have listened to thousands of times in my teens. ‘Pretty Things’ is a paeon to a new generation shouldering aside a stale old one:
Look at your children
See their faces in golden rays
Don’t kid yourself they belong to you
They’re the start of a coming race…
You gotta make way for the homo superior
It was a common theme in the late 60s and 70s. See Joni Mitchell’s lovely ‘Woodstock,’ for instance, or Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Volunteers’ (‘…One generation got old/One generation got soul…’) But as I listened to it, it struck me with a mixture of sadness and wry amusement that the generation Bowie was thinking of were the Baby Boomers, the very people, now at the threshold of old age, who many in a new generation are blaming for the current dire state of the world.