Rebirth, resounding, recreation: making seventies rock in the 21st century


  • Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius ERG, Stockholm University



rock music, historiography, 1970's, retrology


The aim of the article is to explore ways of conceiving and organizing the recent past in contemporary rock music taking place in Sweden. Empirical basis is observations at music events, in-depth interviews, reading of news media and web pages, and analysis of recorded music, conducted within a current research project. The article develops three retrologies, literally “ways of thinking back”. Rebirth is when musicians disappear and after many years reappear. In this case identity “the authority to claim personal continuity” and the capability to represent and manage a lost context are keys to an authentic performance and central to the musicians’ chances to update and develop their sound. Resounding is the use of past sounds, instruments, grooves and melodic fragments that are put together in new ways. These bands are associated to the seventies, and listeners will find a number of historic references yet rarely or never find actual copies. Recreation is the meticulous work characterizing certain tribute bands in their effort to recreate historical concerts. In this case, the identity of the performing artist is erased in favor of the identity of the performed artist, placing authenticity in the matching of detailed performance and audience expectations. To conclude, each retrology points to different conceptions of authenticity, but they all create intimate historical spaces for their audiences to enter into.

Author Biography

Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius, ERG, Stockholm University

Section for Ethnology Dept of Ethnology, History of religions and Gender studies Ph D, researcher and lecturer






Articles – Open Section