Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Music for Geezers


At home in Fort Worth…

This post is a continuation of my earlier musings about becoming a Geezer.  For several days, I had a foggy mental outline of what this post has become—a diatribe about the bilious noise that passes for popular music these days.  Before I could write it, however, Al of the Bayfield Bunch unwittingly stole my thunder in one of his posts a few days ago.  The only difference was that his favorite music was popular a decade or two later than the point in the last century where I was left behind by songwriters and singers.  

In my mind, good music began about 1940 and was largely extinct after about 1970 with a few notable exceptions mostly associated with Broadway musicals.  I guess the hallmark of this 30-year period was that music actually had melody back then.  I won’t even attempt to name any of the hundreds of melodious songs from those years that are still universally recognized today along with the big bands who played them and the crooners who sang them.  But you know these instantly when you hear them, and you can hum their melodies if not sing their words.

I must admit to being utterly devoid of even the tiniest understanding of today’s music. I am mystified by rappers, and I have no idea of what constitutes funk, grunge, metal, heavy metal, punk pop or any of the other weird subgenres that float around out there like strange and annoying creatures from a parallel universe.

I don’t even recognize country music anymore.  A simple and understandable country song with fiddles, a steel guitar and a melody has given way to a rambling story-saga with perhaps a catchy line but no tune that anyone could hum.  Again, there are a few exceptions to this, but not many.

I guess the latest thing that set me off was the recent windup of the TV show, American Idol, a horrible misnomer for what proved to be a never-ending freak show of poorly-dressed youngsters bent on inflicting musical torture.  We have now reached a point, it seems, where judges appear to be impressed only to the degree that a performer’s voice can be pushed and strained to a point where it is no longer discernible as anything other than a primal scream.  Nothing seemed to matter in this show except whether the primal scream was sufficiently vein-bulging that it showed the proper apoplexy or ‘emotion’ of the singer.  I suppose that if the performer had actually suffered an aneurysm and died at that point, he or she would have been named the posthumous winner by acclamation. 

At the merciful end of the season, the winner was a pitiful rural lad whose voice had about a six-note range but who prevailed, presumably, because he was ‘different.’  God help us.

Fearing my curmudgeonly attitude would be dismissed as the predictable snarkiness of an old fuddy-duddy who is not growing old gracefully, I have engaged in no small degree of introspection as to why this causes me so much consternation.  Perhaps it is because I am a musician of sorts myself (piano), about whose capability kind things have been said, however misguided they may be. 

In this exercise of due diligence, I thought back to my own youth and my parents’ reaction to the music of my pubescent fifties and sixties.  Let’s see—no, their heads didn’t explode when rock and roll hit and Elvis discovered his hips.  My folks didn’t listen to pop music much back then, but they never gave me the impression they thought I was from another planet when I listened to it.  In fact, they even liked some of it.  Even “Purple People Eater” and “Splish Splash, I Was Taking A Bath” had a melody, for goodness’ sake!  I  

Therefore, I refuse to be pigeonholed as typical of the geezers of each fading generation who just don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to modern pop music. I think the music died a good while ago along with the culture, and I’m not sure it will ever come back.

14 comments:

  1. And I think I have to agree with you! We listen to country mostly here in this house and even that is going down the tubes!

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  2. This is one of the main reasons we have Sirius Radio in the truck. We listen to the 50's, 60's and sometimes the 70's music. I have a 25 year old Son and have reached the point where we agree we will never agree on what is music.

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  3. I drive Eldy crazy with my musical tastes. I love 70's and 80's...probably because that was one of the few happy times in my young adult life. I happen to like old hip hop and R & B as well and anything with a funky beat. He loves 50's and 60's and the old style country. Needless to say, I listen to my music with headphones. :-)

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  4. That's what's great about this country. We are all free to like or dislike anything we want, including music. Rick and I have different tastes in most music. Some we agree on, occasionally. I don't think it's an age thing. I think it's a choice thing. You know what you like...and what you don't. Me? I love Phillip Phillips :)

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  5. not a big fan of the 'grungy' kind of music or heavy metal either..guess that makes me an ole geezer too..don't care though!..I like what I like..at least Doug and I like pretty much the same kind of music..most of the time anyway..
    or latest favortie is Land of Dreams by Rosanne Cash..we play it over and over and over again!!!..love that song!

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  6. Your last post on becoming a Geezer stimulated a post on my blog about the impending signs of Geezerism. Thanks for your thoughts! Read my Geezers blog here: http://jillgoes.blogspot.com/2012/06/contest-1-you-know-youre-geezer-when.html

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  7. There are a few good tunes out nowadays, but they are few and far between. Thank goodness for Pandora radio where I can get the tunes I want. Love things 60s or earlier. Have to agree with you about the mindless, tuneless noise that passes for modern music. Dare I say, even some church music is in the same category as far as I'm concerned.

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  8. Couldn't agree with you more on this one Mike. It is truly a sad state of affairs what has happened to the music industry. Nothing to do with our age & everything to do with the way morals & standards have slipped so badly in our society. I think people our age are extremely fortunate to have lived through the Golden Age of Music which I believe began with the the big band era back in the 40's. There was still some great music coming out of the 80's but by the 90's it was obvious the Golden Era was coming to an end. How sad that we now have to be subjected to, & insulted by, the wretched noise that is now such a pathetic excuse for something we so wonderfully once called...... music.

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  9. I'm sorry, Mike, but I think you are acting like an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to criticism of today's music. It's pretty subjective stuff and when you get over 100 million people voting on American Idol that's pretty impressive even if you weren't one of them.

    I'm one of those who happened to be a big fan of Phillip Phillips and think he is going to have a lot of success.

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    1. Rick, I agree with you; I guess I am a fuddy-duddy. And you're right about my post being subjective, just as your opinion is. The only difference is that mine just happens to be right! (grin) I'm always glad to see your comments and informative pieces on the blogs; I've learned a lot from you. All my best!

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  10. Mike, you hit that famous nail on its big square head. Congrats to this characterizing essay of today's "music". I'm 150% with you.

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  11. butterbean carpenterJune 16, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Howdy Mike & Sandy,
    How are things in the Mid-Cities Sqush-Together?? I'll even go back further than you, to the late 20s-early 30s until the 'heavy-metal crap'.. I really enjoyed the 'old' country music with The Grand Ole Opry, The Lousianna Hayride,
    Ozark Jubilee, etc.. Also the Dixieland sounds from Louzanna, the Swing-era
    MUSIC, Doo-Wop, Southern Gospel quartets, the classical symphonies, Cowboy Western songs; in other words, MUSIC!!!

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  12. Hey Sandy and Mike
    What in the world was that post that hit about 8pm on the 15th between Al and Rick's posts??? What a mess of gibberish!!
    Take care and I enjoy your blog.
    Don in Okla.

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    1. Hi, Don! I don't know what demons some people have, but that guy was obviously messed up.

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