Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hall of Shame 3 - When Music Lost its Melody

I just realized I never finished exposing myself  (via likes and dislikes) in my Hall of Shame series.  I found these notes today tucked way in a draft and decided that I owed it to you to reveal the final depths of my depraved and/or disgustingly mundane and banal tastes.

It appears that the only subject on my list left to confess about is that of music.  That happens to be a very delicate subject for me. Oddly enough, I don't listen to as much music as I used to and probably not nearly as much as I should since I used to find it a great healer and source of joy.  From my earliest days music was like 97% of my life starting with classic jazz and blues, the wonderful Big Band years and the series of great vocalists (Sinatra, Nat Cole, June Christy and even Doris Day) of that era and later into the 50's.  In addition to pop music I was also  in love with much classical music and opera and I had some kind of music going most of the time during my waking hours.  I had a good sound system for playing my hundreds of records and, if that wasn't convenient there was always the radio.   No matter what station I turned on, some of my music came out.  And it was Good!

Then ghastly things started to happen.   Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the music that emerged from the radio ceased to soothe or excite  me and began to grate on my nerves and leave me unsatisfied..  The stuff called rock and roll wasn't bad, but next came.... well....... non-musical gibberish.    My favorites began to disappear, replaced by stuff that I did not consider to be music.........since this is confession time I must admit that music without a melody ain't music to me....I don't care how profound the lyrics may be or how politically correct,  how floor-vibrating the drum or ear splitting the volume, if there is no tune I can hum and no beat that I can sway to or tap my feet to and if the piece, in its entirety, consists of nothing but the same limited set of unrelated notes and words repeated ad nauseum from one end to the other, it is not music to me.   I don't care how loud it is or how piercingly the vocalist's NOT music.  So there went the radio as a useful piece of equipment.  My stuff could no longer be found there on any kind of regular basis. 

At the same time, technology blew up  in my face and demanded that instead of my  nice simple collection of records which revolved at 33 1/3 rpms and the older ones at 45 and 78 rpms (and could be played on a single machine) I now needed new machines of all sorts to play the new medium of  tapes of several different sizes whose labels were just plain too small and damned difficult to read and which seemed so impermanent besides  (witness the strange black coils I used to see discarded in frustration on every freeway I traveled....... I suspected these were once official music of some kind) ............well, I just buried my face in the pillow, sobbed heavily and gave up in defeat........particularly since it became heartbreaking to me to realize that the music that I adored  and responded to had  literally disappeared and no longer existed except for fragments which had been chosen to be preserved for posterity on the newest media called CD's but not really played or listened to (except for a few old codgers like me.)

Even Classical music is having a tough time surviving and maintaining any kind of any audience these days and I have occasional bad dreams in which Bach and Mozart and their ilk fade into anonymity and the gorgeous arias and orchestral passages of operas  disappear with the only parts  remaining  the occasional  brief  spoken "recicatives."  And,  I have so many different music playing devices and so many different kinds of media that it all seems simply too damned much trouble.  I do not understand what "music" has come to.

Of course it won't surprise you to find that my naive and unsophisticated tastes extend to Musical Theater as well...........-   not the  one trick pony of  Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.....but rather Bernstein's infinitely  brilliant "Candide"(both music and lyrics) ......or Queen Letifah's - paean to  Reciprocity ("When You're Good to Mama, Mama's Good to You)" and John C. Reilly breath-taking performance of   "Mr. Cellophane" ....both in the musical triumph,  "Chicago".

Naturally Everything by Gilbert and Sullivan though I must admit that overindulging in too much of a good thing can make a person a bit sick and tired....... fortunately this wears off and in time I am ready again  for their tunes and their wit.

Classical music - nothing much later than Debussy......most everything  Baroque, .Beethoven's Violin Concerto, Schubert's "Death and the Maiden",   Bach's  Brandenbergs and Preludes and Fugues, anything by Mozart......Verde, Puccini .......gotta stop.

Jazz- anything by Louie especially West End Blues, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Teagarden, Red Nichols,  Goodman's soulful  liquid clarinet  on "Can't We Be Friends",...I could go on endlessly on this one but I will just add Billie Holliday and Ella, Johnny Mercer and maybe Nina Simone........ and of course anything by Pete Daily 
I did movies in chapter 2 of this expose but forgot a couple.....  The Hustler, Unforgiven, Chinatown and, while we are at it, why not Casablanca and Maltese Falcon.

OK.......that is as much of a fool  as I am willing to make of myself at one time.  However, I am sure I have many more shocking revelations to tantalize or horrify you with in the future, so do come back. 



fancy pantalons said...
It was a sad, sad day for me when the Oldies stations started playing '60s and '70s music...what happened to the '50s? So I gave up on normal radio and started listening to Satellite radio where there's an entire channel devoted to the '50s. I love the '30s and '40s channels, too; there's nothing quite like sitting down to a lazy breakfast Sunday morning/mid-afternoon with Ella Fitzgerald streaming through the house!
Intense Guy said...
Nothing is wrong with your musical tastes at all! I confess to enjoying one trick pony Andrew Lloyd Webber's music (I guess I'm a peasant). I wonder if each and every generation hates the next generation's "music"?
AngelMay said...
You have just completed a description of ME. How do you DO that? :)
AngelMay said...
Note to "Intense Guy" - Today's generation doesn't have music. It has noise. :)
messymimi said...
I find myself similarly horrified by what comes out of the radio that passes for "music" these days. I hoard my few CDs of decent music, and the only thing I would add to your list is some Cajun and Zydeco -- I can't help it, I love south Louisiana's musical heritage.
AngelMay said...
Pssst! Lo! There is something wrong with your blog this morning. You should check it out.


  1. AngelMay.....thanks for tipping me off that the blog was all screwed up....hope I have fixed things.

  2. How we access music has definitely changed. I love classical, opera, blues, Christmas music of nearly every variety, and a lot more rock music than you would enjoy.... We have a few hundred CDs, which we have now converted to mp3 files (yeah, I know) and I'm supposed to be figuring out how to get selected ones onto my iPod, which we will hook up to speakers. I got a big blues playlist on there, but now I'm stalled. The process is not impossible, but it doesn't work the way my mind wants to work. But what I was going to say is that while I like to play an album from beginning to end, my hubby likes to put the whole playlist on "random" and mix 'em up.

    There seems to be a lot of music available for download, but when I actually go to the sites I hate them.... too overwhelming, in general.

    Sorry, I seem to be writing a whole post here.... Obviously you've got me thinking!

  3. I'm 20+ years younger than you, but you're singin' my song, lady! Although part of the problem with "modern" music is that it hasn't been pruned and weeded enough yet so we're bombarded with the wretched along with the righteous. (I'm sure there was some Baroque music that justifiably was allowed to fade into oblivion.) There is some good stuff in there, as my daughter has graciously taught me over the years. I try to be open minded, and have found some favorites in almost every era and genre of musical expression. We will not mention hip hop and rap. Nor that 12 tone stuff. Nor Klezmer bands.

  4. I love so many different types of music from all different eras including today (it's not all noise AngelMay!).

    I really enjoyed this post, but I vote to remove it from the hall of shame - it doesn't belong there!

  5. Lo - your blog still looks messed up to me. I will re-boot my computer and see if it changes anything.

  6. I re-booted and it didn't change anything. It seems that your blog is still messed up. But I have no idea how to tell you to fix it. I wonder if Blogger can help.

  7. Your blog has two different bunches of has gone whacky!! I like the oldies as in the 50's and 60's , I really don't have the ability to carry a tune myself. Music likes and dislikes are a personal preference..I like whatever makes me feel good and makes me want to dance a little and smile. Oh you are far from weird LO:)

  8. Fabulous post.
    You are not alone. I listen to Rhapsody all day long. It's not free but it's good. You can choose to listen to whatever you like for as long as you like. You might even enjoy this radio station online:

    It used to be an LA station that faded but was revived online.

  9. PS - not all of your comments are appearing on your post page.

  10. What a delightful post to come in on on your blog. I am a listener of most genre's but there are absolutes which I won't listen to. I am not a fan of anything I can't make out the words to or that which requires me to wear ear plugs. The older I get and the more my disease descends upon me, the quieter I like my music. Now, my playlist has all sorts on it. Mainly to entertain the masses. But given time to myself solely, I like quiet or gentle sounds coming from my speakers. You are a very good writer. Thanks for having me and stop on by my place for a chance to win a giveaway. Tazzy

  11. I agree with the modern "music." I like a song with a tune: with a beginning, middle, and an end. Preferably something I can sing along to, which is why I've listened to less of the Classical and more of the Jazz on your list.

    I'm enjoying your posts--you're brilliant, you know! I happened over here from having blog-hopped. First Domesticated Bohemian to a Professor who lives in the Sonoran Desert....