From the top 1% to the bricklayers, the British have always been meticulous about their clothes. British grandfathers are the only grandfathers who include shopping for outfits on their touring itinerary. When a friend’s English grandfather was here in New York visiting Ground Zero he carved out some extra time to visit Brooks Brothers across the street. Brits understand that the way you look defines you, and they choose to present themselves as proud members of their tribe. Where we had jocks, nerds, and rockers, growing up they had mods, boot boys, suedeheads, scooter boys, skinheads, and rude boys (to list one small section of one scene). Each tiny subculture had a huge list of particulars ranging from how high your cuff should be to what length of your collar you should wear. (…)
Brits are stuck indoors most of the time because it’s raining out and that means they don’t just listen to records, they are imbued with them. Ask your average Brit about music and he’ll go on forever about bands from your hometown. If you were ever in a band, he’s probably heard it. Listening to John Peel on BBC Radio was like going to Every Band in the World School as he’d jump from The Bhundu Boys to Ofra Haza and then back over to Napalm Death.
Despite having only a fifth of America’s population, they produce about the same number of great bands and they do our music better than we do. When they got ahold of punk it was just avant-garde New York art rock. They’re the ones that made it a global phenomenon. Blues was just an old man on a porch until Led Zeppelin turned it into a hurricane. British music is so nuanced, there are subcultures in subcultures in subcultures, leaving us with anarcho punk dub, African beat poetry, grindcore choir metal, electro hooligan rap and, of course, classical pop.