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24 December 2007 @ 02:35 am
Web meander: "Doctor Who" to "Apache"  
My mother is deeply in love with the new Doctor Who series, so we're both rewatching the episodes. We're nearing the second-season episode "The Idiot's Lantern", which begins with the Doctor and Rose planning to see an Elvis performance. The Doctor is surprised to learn that Rose knows "the lingo" of the era, and Rose explains that she and her mother watched Cliff Richard movies every bank holiday Monday. The Doctor answers, rather derisively, that he knew her mother would be "a Cliff fan".

I'd never heard of Cliff Richard, and I try to find out all the cultural stuff so I can explain it, so while I was doing other webby things, I looked him up on Wikipedia (hence the link above). That led me, link by link, to the story of a song called "Apache".

You know how there's this one sound-effects scream that's been in literally dozens of movies*? Well, "Apache" is threaded through pop music history in a similar way, if not nearly to the same degree. It stretches from pre-Beatles English pop and Burt Lancaster (playing an Apache!) through surf music, Nixon's second inaugural, possibly the most disturbing music video ever**, and the early rap scene; it lives on today in various hip-hop guises. As Seattle Weekly's Michaelangelo Matos notes in the analysis linked above, the song serves as a snapshot of just how very ... bizarre race relations in America have been:
In other words, a record written by a white Englishman imitating Native Americans as portrayed by white Americans and made famous by a Dane with a vaguely Hawaiian sound, arranged by a Canadian, became the biggest record in [mid-1970s] black New York.
Just another web meander ....


* ... and, to introduce an eddy into this stream, a Doctor Who video promotion and video game.

** Oddly enough, I've run across a link to this video before. (Those clothes! That moustache! Those racially offensive bikini outfits!*** That creepy laugh!) Possibly even more oddly, this is the only version of the song I had heard before now.

*** Seriously.
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