The New European: Sex, drugs and troubadours – how rock first rolled in the Middle Ages

Risqué, rebellious and always ready to stick it to the man, the songsmiths of the Middle Ages deserve recognition as the true originators of rock and roll. Sophia Deboick makes the case

‘Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen sixty-three/ (which was rather late for me)/ Between the end of the ‘Chatterley’ ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP’, so wrote Philip Larkin.

But Europe saw a luridly sexual, headily passionate cultural form sweep the continent not just decades, but centuries before that, spearheaded by the pop stars of their day.

While every guitar-totting peddler of sentimental pop from Ed Sheeran backwards has routinely been branded a ‘troubadour’, the medieval originals churned out far grittier fayre.

A Victorian view of the troubadours which persists today stripped them of their virility, seeing them strumming lyres in Errol Flynn get-up.

They were nothing so cutesy, and their importance for the history of the popular music of the west is inestimable. They were crucial to the development of our musical popular culture, foregrounding their own personalities in songs of love and desire that broke the cultural stranglehold of the Church and gave birth to popular song…

The New European, 21 December 2017, pp. 34-35.

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