The author and columnist Jens Balzer works for a range of media, including DIE ZEIT, Rolling Stone, Deutschlandfunk and radioeins. He manages the Popsalon event at the Deutsches Theater and teaches pop culture criticism at Berlin’s University of the Arts. He has also been curator at the Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg Platz and is artistic advisor to the organisers of the Donau Festival. His acclaimed book Pop was published in 2016.
THE UNFETTERED DECADE: THE SOUND AND SPIRIT OF THE 1970s
Between demonstrations and the disco craze: Jens Balzer describes the decade that began our present era
Just about everything changed during the 1970s. Humans climbed the “Stairway to Heaven” all the way to the moon, pop became part of the dominating culture in the West and a generation found a new self-confidence, distancing itself from the elitist protest culture of the late 60s to find a brash, powerful new voice. Hippies explored hitherto unheard-of lifestyles, anti-authoritarian parenting recalibrated the fabric of the family and queer artists stepped onto the cultural stage. A fresh breed of global idealism came to the fore, as did new apocalyptic fears. Sit-in protests against nuclear power morphed into new realms of science fiction envisaged by films like Star Wars. Technology captivated the popular imagination as a small group of hackers come up with a crazy new idea: the “personal computer”. New ways of remixing and sampling audio pushed musicians headlong into the shrill age of disco, and beyond. Postmodern culture began here.
Jens Balzer is one of Germany’s most prolific cultural journalists. His new book offers an exciting and vivid portrait of the 1970s, from the hippie movement and the oil crisis all the way to the ‘German Autumn’ of the RAF terrorists and the nihilism of punk. Along the way, Balzer makes some intriguing new connections while his appealing and accessible style immerses his readers in a thrilling decade that signalled the beginning of our present era.