On April 10, 1815, a volcano erupted in the central part of the Indonesian archipelago. Mount Tambora blew up, ejecting nearly 200 cubic metres of debris into the atmosphere. All that dust circled the earth, blocking out a significant amount of sunlight. The blockage was so severe that the average global temperature dropped almost a full degree. The result was that the following year, 1816, has gone down in history as “the year without a summer.”
It was worse than not being able to go to the beach, too. There were food shortages and famines and outbreaks of disease. Crops withered. Cattle died. Huge storms battered much of Europe.
That summer, four artsy types were holed up at a mansion called Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland. To entertain themselves through the dark, cold, wet days, they drank, had sex, and took opium. And to ward off the boredom, they tried to outdo each other by coming up with the best horror story.
One of the crew, John William Polidori, came up with a story he called The Vampyre
which told of undead bloodsuckers 80 years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Not to be outdone, 22-year-old Mary Shelley, conjured a tale of a mad scientist who created a new being by sewing together the parts of dead people. She called her story Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus
(odd punctuation there, but whatever).
These two stories, both imagined during the year without a summer caused by the biggest volcanic eruption the planet had seen in 1,300 years, created the foundations of Gothic fiction, a genre of horror that endures today in the form of novels, movies, comic books, fashion, and, yes, music.
In fact, the music part of this equation has blown up to the point where Goth music culture is one of the biggest musical subcultures humanity has ever seen. But it really didn’t happen until the wake of the punk era of the 1970s. This is the post-punk explosion part 5: the story of Goth.
Songs on this show:
- Joy Division, Dead Souls
- The Doors, The End
- Siouxsie and the Banshees, Hong Kong Garden
- Bauhaus, Bella Lugosi’s Dead
- Specimen, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Release the Bats
- Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Merch
- The Cult, She Sells Sanctuary
A playlist? Sure. Here it is
from Eric Wilhite.
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.
If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.
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