JIM DAVIS: Good Music Is In the Ear of The Listener
For as long as I can remember, I've been a music fan.
I don't mean the toneless, tuneless, ugly noise that passes for popular music today, where the singer or the musician seems to be searching for the lost chord and never finds it, assuming that there's a chord to find. I just don't understand what people find attractive in that awful stuff.
But, hey, that's just me. Give me Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are," Rogers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You," Meredith Willson's "'Till There Was You," or the Mello-Larks' rendition of "Skylark," to name just a few musical pieces that I like.
Not that my own musical history is without blemish. When I was about 15, my mother, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, thought I was tinkering with eternal damnation by listening on the radio to a tune called "I Said No."
The song lyrics led the listener to believe that the girl singer kept rejecting a lecher whose intentions were less than honorable. The last line of the song revealed that she had simply been turning down a salesman who was trying to sell her a magazine subscription. My mother thought the song was "suggestive" (she was right) and she didn't want it to sully our young ears.
Mother also objected to a harmless little song called, "The Music Goes 'Round and 'Round and It Comes Out Here." The lyric was about a tuba, but mother thought it could be referring to some unspeakable bodily function. Mother was raised in a pretty strict home, and it showed.
Sure, we had some popular songs that made little sense, but they didn't hurt anybody or suggest that we do bodily harm to anyone. I'm thinking of "Mairzy Doats," "The Hut-Sut Song," "Three Little Fishies," and so on. Maybe they were stupid, but they were tuneful, cute, and above all, fun. They attempted no social statements, and no one used them as a battle cry as they waged all-out war against the establishment.
Compare those silly little songs of the '40s and '50s with some of the truly shameful, profane lyrics in some of today's popular music and rap. Nothing is forbidden. Murder, rape, drug use, and violence against women are not only mentioned but glorified. It's wrong, and I detest it.
On the "Today Show" recently, a popular band was the musical guest. The plaza and the nearby streets were clogged with screaming fans waiting for an eyeful and an earful of their darlings.
When the band appeared, the leader held the microphone to his mouth as if he were chewing it, and began to yell some kind of unintelligible lyrics. I didn't understand any of it, but the crowd did. They knew every word, and lip-synched right along with the leader. I turned it off. I couldn't stand it.
Enough already. I've decided to fight back. For years, I've been looking for an affordable machine that will burn CDs from some old vinyl LP albums I've stored in the garage. I finally found and purchased such a machine, and now I have a stockpile of CDs that I like. I can play them anytime, in the car or in the living room.
We had friends in recently, and as background music I played some Erroll Garner albums that I had converted to CDs. After a while, one of the guests said, "What is that music we've been listening to? It's wonderful!" I rest my case.
I was somewhat surprised that the person who asked about the music admitted she had never heard of Erroll Garner, but that's OK. I don't know Dave Matthews from Alice Cooper, and I maintain that Bruce Springsteen can't carry a tune.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. I'm in the middle of making CDs from some great old Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey albums.
Contact Pinehurst writer Jim Davis at email@example.com.
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