Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Music, music, music

  • So "the Voice of a Generation," Bob Dylan, is 75. Rather fitting that a figurehead for an awful time I lived through, the Sixties conquering Middle America, has a terrible singing voice, a Pied Piper for the mad. At least the two main Beatles could sing (I've seen Sir Paul McCartney in person; he's charming), as can Joan Baez. And by the way, while big bands (the past has a past) and rockabilly are my staples, I also like pretty, tuneful hootenanny music such as the Kingston Trio, the Serendipity Singers, and, answering a record company's casting call to cash in on Dylan's and Baez's popularity, Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as cool jazz such as Dave Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi (the piano jazz in "A Charlie Brown Christmas").
  • Recent passings of musical people I do miss:
    • Sir George Martin: One of the driving forces behind a phenomenon I have mixed feelings about (the Beatles, basically, four English kids who did mean impressions of Little Richard, et al., who like Dylan became accelerants for the Sixties' inferno) actually was rooted in an earlier, better, era, even dressing like me throughout the group's run. You can argue that his contribution, from a man half a generation older (a Fleet Air Arm veteran from the war who made it to 90), epitomized the establishment's share of the blame for the Sixties or at least acquiescence to it (witness how so much of the church caved with Vatican II). But the music is very good and Sir George, a "blimey" Londoner (you could still hear traces of that from him) but with Prince Philip's looks who taught himself the old cut-glass BBC accent, was a "quintessential English gentleman" (as the announcement of his knighthood said), calm/unflappable, self-effacing, and supporting talent he judged greater than his. And his light classical music wasn't bad either: "Pepperland Suite" for example, one of my favorites.
    • Prince: Like Michael Jackson and so many others, in Donald Clarke's words, a black talent who worked his way to success by putting on a professional show, honing his act by paying his dues in Minneapolis clubs. Like Jackson, gone too soon. Both his appearance and his music had a very Latin (Mediterranean) Catholic sensibility in their sensuality.
    • Isao Tomita: A synthesizer player who made Debussy sound cosmic. Fell in love with his rendition of "Arabesque No. 1" when it was the theme of PBS's "Star Hustler," later "Star Gazer," the astronomy bit those stations used to show before signing off for the night.
  • What my Sunday mornings before going to Mass look and sound like: "Hound Dog," for example, on my radio. The slightly older, crooning Elvis is relatively easy to impersonate; next to nobody can capture the energy of the very young Elvis.

1 comment:

  1. I can recall a friend's mother complaining to my Mum about bob Dylan in 1964. Then Larry Norman and contemporary Christian music kicked off with Graham Kendricks SHINE JESUS SHINE. I know of English catholics who blame him for the demise of good worship music.


Leave comment