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An ageing rocker

Rock music's rough, confident spirit of rebellion has gone. Some of us can't help feeling nostalgic for it

By Salman Rushdie   May 1999

I recently asked Vaclav Havel about his admiration for the American rock star Lou Reed. He replied that it was impossible to overstate the importance of rock music for the Czech resistance during the years of darkness between the Prague Spring and the collapse of communism.

I was just relishing the picture of the leaders of the Czech underground grooving to the sound of the Velvet Underground playing Waiting for the Man or All Tomorrow’s Parties when Havel spoke again. “Why,” he asked me, with a straight face, “do you think we called it the Velvet Revolution?”

I took this…

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