Reading Camus in Salford

The October issue of Prospect has this column by Paul Lay about the atmosphere surrounding “the young working-class intellectual” in the late 70s and early 80s. He makes an interesting point about the Christian imagery in Ian Curtis’ lyrics for Joy Division, and suggests (probably correctly) that “Curtis’ generation was among the last to be brought up in Britain where religious language was ubiquitous, transmitted through school assemblies, religious studies classes, and the shared landmarks of baptisms, wedding and funerals”.
I’m interested by this point, since much discussion of the religion-pop connection in that period has tended to regard pop as an autonomous, religiously neutral phenomenon, which the churches could domesticate for their own use, injecting Christian themes into a vacant ‘container’. In contrast, Lay’s point suggests that fruitful research might be done on what happens to the lyrics of the more self-consciously intelligent pop of the period, and to identify when it is that access is lost to this “vocabulary of transcendence”, as Lay puts it.

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