When Was the Day the Music Died?

MusicDiedby Susan D. Harris   8/18/14
I don’t believe a generation gap exists in music now.  I believe it’s much more serious than that:  that music is largely dead because latter generations have never been exposed to real music.

I have not, with few exceptions, heard any “new” music I liked since the 1990′s. There is, of course, new music coming out that is good — but ironically it’s the new music that mimics sounds from an earlier era that catches my ear. For the most part however, every genre has deteriorated badly in the last twenty years.

Pop music started to seem repetitive.  I remember hearing Hootie and the Blowfish for the millionth time and turning off the radio; vowing never to turn it on again.

Country music had just seen its last peak of quality music in the 1990′s; from there it morphed into mainstream pop music that only distinguished itself by using occasional southern drawls or an “ain’t” here and there to give it a faux down-home feel.

What many people began to refer to as “jazz” sounded like chaos to me (akin to a band warming up). Like other genres, the best songs in this category stopped being written about twenty years ago.

The extent of my appreciation of rap music began and ended with Blondie‘s “Rapture” — which I considered an amusing, creative novelty.  When rap came along and demanded to be taken seriously, I laughed; surely it wouldn’t catch on with the masses.  Speaking words instead of singing them reminded me of Tony Randall on The Tonight Show, reciting lyrics to popular songs to show how silly some of them sounded with no musical attributes.

But rap did make it to the big time. Eventually it expanded to hip-hop and gangsta rap and other subgenres; and young, white men and women with good voices, in an attempt to get noticed, started wasting their talent emulating young black men chanting frustrations of urban ghetto life.  I guess it was shocking and exciting at first, a clash of cultures and a rebellion that made old women gasp.  When that got old, women had to start taking their clothes off to maintain the spotlight.  Rapping/hip hop is so monotonous that artists were forced to become visually shocking to perpetuate sales of their substandard product.

The main draw of hip-hop music is not the music itself, because it does not contain melodies (no one walks around humming it); the distinction between songs lies in the lyrics themselves.  Today, some of the biggest successes in the hip-hop/rap genre are songs that alternate between real singing and chanting.  Every time it’s done it’s lauded for its “uniqueness” or “hypnotic juxtaposition” of genres.

Christian music contains various genres, and is separate from gospel music. You really have to love the Lord to appreciate a lot of Christian music, because the quality of the voices and the simplistic lyrics leave much to be desired — how many times can one sing the line “My God is an awesome God” unless they are caught up in spiritual fervor? The old hymns with deep, meaningful lyrics and soul-stirring melodies have been abandoned in an effort to keep God “cool.”

Then there is metal music: death metal, thrash metal, black metal – pick one – it’s all screaming rubbish that makes AC/DC seem like the Beach Boys.

Opera, it seems, is one genre that has changed very little; not too many new ones are being written.  It’s always been a love-it-or-hate-it genre, and I’ve never known anyone personally who sought it out, myself included.  However, in a desperate attempt to escape the poor quality music on my radio, I recently sat spellbound for two hours listening to what I later learned was Turandot.  The irony was I had always loved Nessun Dorma, but had staunchly spurned the genre that spawned it.  Yet something from Turandot spoke to me, before I even realized it contained the aria I cherished. Still, the fact that I resorted to listening to opera speaks volumes about the quality of the music on the radio.

Music stirs something in the soul; the trouble is that for the majority of the population, I don’t think contemporary music is stirring anything good.  I used to work with a woman, about 30 years of age, who constantly played Eminem and Marilyn Manson at her desk.  I was forced to endure hours of this mindless, screaming noise. In a diplomatic attempt to not offend a coworker, I would even try to find nice things to say when she would ask, “What did you think of that song? Wasn’t it awesome?!”  I could never understand how she could be moved by it in any good way.  Not surprisingly, I learned she lived a troubled, tumultuous life; her music choices were only a symptom of that.

We all went through our music phases.  Somewhere in my basement sits a dusty album I picked up at a garage sale when I was 18 titled, “Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.”  I can only remember that it made me want to jump up and down and scream; likely a release valve for youthful vigor I couldn’t contain and didn’t understand.  But I quickly grew out of it and my musical tastes matured.  Nobody matures anymore; they are stunted; perpetually stuck in chanting, rhythms, noise or screaming.

It’s no surprise that shows like American Idol rarely use contemporary songs to judge voice quality; because voice quality is rarely a prerequisite for contemporary songs.

The other day I heard Dean Martin‘s version of “La Vie en rose” for the first time.  I was in seventh heaven.  Perhaps I’m an old soul, but so many songs recorded long before my time make me blissfully happy to be alive when I hear them.  Who can sing “Fly Me to the Moon” like Tony Bennett?  Who can elevate you to rapture with “Stardust” like Dinah Shore?  Where are the likes of Lena Horne‘s sultry rendition of “St. Louis Blues” or Keely Smith‘s clear, crisp “A Foggy Day“?

Contrasting pop or rock and roll music from the 50′s through the 80′s with what is being produced by big labels today is shocking. Bread‘s introductory line, “I found her diary underneath a tree…” would be updated to “I found her panties underneath a tree…” if it were to be considered for mass appeal today.

And where will the next “Rhapsody in Blue” come from?  Nowhere, I lament.  I seriously doubt there are but a handful of people who have the talent to create such masterpieces — or having it, can find a market for it.

I suppose it’s easy to dismiss me as a snob or a fossil, but I’ve tried to be open-minded, I really have.  I’ve painfully endured or wonderfully enjoyed everyone from Ravi Shankar to Béla Fleck, from Keely Smith to the Oak Ridge Boys, from the Rolling Stones to the New York Philharmonic.  I’ve parsed out what I liked; what speaks to my soul. I see the effect of music on people and realize we all have different tastes.  But do we?

The common thread of music that used to bind us together as a society — back when everyone, regardless of age or color, knew the #1 song in the country — is gone.  We have shattered it into shards of broken glass that can never be pieced together.  If art reflects life, maybe a few generations of painkillers, antidepressants, weed-sucking and drunken stupors have finally altered our creative genius as a people.  Maybe the effect of too many benzodiazepines in the water system is finally being realized on our airwaves.

Music may not be completely dead: The best hope for music today — for all genres — falls into a category called “indie;” short for independent labels with smaller budgets. It seems that’s where artists go when they realize their music is too good to be accepted by the Beyonce/Jay-Z big-money record labels. So when was the day the music died?  For many of us it was a long, long time ago.  Yet we can still remember how that music used to make us smile.


Susan D. Harris can be reached at SusanDHarris.com. • (560 views)

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36 Responses to When Was the Day the Music Died?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was listening to classical music on my way to work this morning and noticed all the “hyper” people trying to get to work one-tenth of a second faster by cutting around cars, speeding to stoplights that were already red, and changing lanes to no advantage. I’ve been there, done that, to some extent and am trying to leave that mania behind.

    I’ll still listen to a little Rammstein now and again. But my soul, if you will, is more and more tugged away from the Kultursmog. Want to solve the problem in places such as Ferguson? Things would improved immensely if black people set aside their tonal stand-in for rage (rap music) and instead listened to a little Mozart.

    Frank Sinatra said of rock ‘n’ roll, it is “The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.” This might sound like some old fuddy-duddy spouting off, but until you’ve heard Frank sing April in Paris, you don’t know what civilized music sounds like.

    Kudos to Susan for writing an extraordinary opinion. To each his own regarding music, to some extent. But many people should know that they are willingly acclimating themselves to soul-sucking trash. Somewhere inside them there is a little pilot light that it telling them this. No wonder they have to crank the music up so loud.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    Alright Susan–you have officially opened up an industrial sized can o’ worms with this piece.

    As culture has fragmented into those shards of glass, every atomistic group now claims a piece as the soundtrack to their existence. I have seen in the classroom high schoolers who have devoted their lives to 80’s metal because it has found currency in their souls. Indeed, those black and white kids are not just humming rap lyrics in class—they are reciting the wretched pornographic poetry which is akin to aural defecation.

    Yes, the music that enchants us can give us a clue to the frequency of our soul. I am a devotee of 70’s Progressive Rock with its intricate orchestral melodies—but my wife hates it. She likes the current genre of country, which is as canned and bland as any formulaic pop music—especially the boilerplate half wit lyrics which make the average country fan seem like liquored up, sexed up drones with a pickup, dog, and an American flag. When rock and pop fragmented, their writing teams put on a cowboy hat with a dead bird on it and breathed new life in a mundane genre. One can see now that this niche is rapidly achieving artistic exhaustion.

    Frank, Dean and the boys represented the apex of American culture and power, which was chronologically 1964. Although this era’s music produced the “standards,” at one time it was considered by the older folks as devil music for gin joints leading listeners on the primrose path to hell. For us, it evokes the epitome of romance—-go figure.

    Music has great power. If I play Beethoven on speakers outside a strip mall, the little gangsters and skateboarders who congregate like flies will dissipate as if one sprayed “Off” around the premises. The Taliban believes music to be so corruptive that it bans it altogether. Music charms us and literally evokes memories of breakups and happy times. It can incite to revolution or tame the savage beast.

    As a side note, I am a devotee of the operatic form, which can make me quite unpopular if I drag it out in a gathering of friends. I do so want others to enjoy it, but I am afraid that it shall never be. Caught up in its raptures, the sublimity of a good opera can evoke an ethereal transcendence and send tears streaming down this haggard face. You can divine much about a culture in how they “do” opera. The Germans sing of Gods and the Italians of love and revenge. Even the great Puccini–the last of the great operatic masters, was thought to be jejuene when he first came on the scene; and the wonderful “Madame Butterfly” was panned and the author was sent scurrying back to his drawing room to rework it. Even the magnificent Gilbert and Sullivan, whose works are embedded in our civilizational memory, were considered common in their day to a class of people who professed to be the vanguards of culture and taste.

    But everything old becomes new again. Lady Gaga may one day sing Gershwin standards like Linda Ronstadt and Rap music may become just a curious footnote when viewed in retrospect. One thing is certain: music makes life wonderful because it has the capacity to bewitch and transport us—-to make us better than we perhaps were as we are bidden to face the music…… and dance.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I am a devotee of 70′s Progressive Rock with its intricate orchestral melodies—but my wife hates it. She likes the current genre of country, which is as canned and bland as any formulaic pop music.—especially the boilerplate half wit lyrics which make the average country fan seem like liquored up, sexed up drones with a pickup, dog, and an American flag.

      I want to meet your wife is she’s that okay with you dissing her music. And not just dissing it but taking a sledgehammer to it. By the way, I couldn’t agree more.

      Frank, Dean and the boys represented the apex of American culture and power, which was chronologically 1964.

      I was surfing the web Friday night before heading home from work and I ran across this video of the rat pack performing somewhere (probably Vegas) for some cause (which is never mentioned in the video). But I was enthralled by it. I sat it watched the entire hour-and-a-half of it with a grin on my face.

      As for Frank and company being devil music, well, perhaps some things are relative. But it’s hard to objectively call this the equivalent of this. There’s devil music and then there’s devil music.

      And, good god, I knew that Sammy Davis Jr. was talented. But I had no idea he was such a good impressionist. Underneath that YouTube video one poster said: what happened to music? people? the world?

      To some extent, our parents were right to be wary of rock ‘n’ roll. It let out the sexual beast in us that quickly then turned to drugs and then decided that hedonism was the basic god-given “right” of every citizen of the West — an idea implicit in libertarianism as well.

      Music has great power. If I play Beethoven on speakers outside a strip mall, the little gangsters and skateboarders who congregate like flies will dissipate as if one sprayed “Off” around the premises.

      LMAO.

      The Taliban believes music to be so corruptive that it bans it altogether. Music charms us and literally evokes memories of breakups and happy times. It can incite to revolution or tame the savage beast.

      I differ from a libertarian in that I agree that letting some of this garbage into the free market is better than the alternative of heavy-handed censorship. But what the libertarian does not admit to is that much of this stuff is indeed garbage and should be treated as such. We should tell our children (and ourselves), “Beware.” And what libertarians don’t understand is that once something is in the market it has tacit approval attached to it, so therefore it is automatically deemed “good.” And if you deem it “bad,” the one-dimensional free-market thinkers (such as they are) will then say that you are that McCarthyite demon of repressive censorship.

      I don’t know how to get out of that loop. Perhaps the Taliban isn’t wrong about everything. They just go too far. Perhaps some of this cop-killer rap music ought to be banned. Has a libertarian paradise yet broken out where everybody could do what they wanted and their own personal morality was the only restraint?

      Music is like sex: It can be beautiful, meaningful, and classy or it can be abused, crude, and scatological. Music can fit our mood, temperament, or state of maturity — and it can act to create these things. We should be on the lookout for music that is little more than being covered in honey and buried to the neck in an ant hill.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I suspect parents didn’t like the Rat Pack for the same reason parents always dislike what they’re children (especially their adolescent children) are doing. This is different from the more general hostility of the Taliban. Note that in The Great Idea (aka Time Will Run Back) by Henry Hazlitt, Beethoven (and presumably other classical music) is considered unacceptable politically. The community in The Giver has no music at all (they don’t exactly ban it anymore; they just keep people from being aware of the concept). On the other hand, Oceania had some popular as well as patriotic music in 1984.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I suspect parents didn’t like the Rat Pack for the same reason parents always dislike what they’re children (especially their adolescent children) are doing.

          There always ought to be a certain amount of inertia regarding cultural issues. I have no grudge against that. But had the parents, and the parents’ parents, seen what was coming in our age, they would have gotten down on their knees and thanked God for Elvis Presley (who loved singing hymns) and Frank Sinatra (who loved hanging around with hoodlums, but that’s another story).

          One distinction Dennis Prager makes about art is that Classical Western Art was about evoking and describing beauty. That’s not to say that there were not paintings such as Goya’s The Colossus. Even so, such a painting was, in some respects, about the sheer horror of the destruction of beauty and civilization. It has power because of the counter-play with beauty, not because it is ugly and wishes to be ugly.

          And Prager notes (consistent with the theme that “everything the Left touches, they make worse”) that the goal of modern art, on the other hand, is to celebrate the ugly. What is vulgar, nihilistic, or obscene is considered cutting-edge-cool.

          Was Elvis overtly sexier than those who came before him? Yes, and looking back at the culture that has up to 60% of children born as bastards, we might not roll our eyes so much and snicker at the seemingly prudish instruction to film him on TV only from the waste up. But he was at least musical in a way that today’s pop stars are not.

          But he was no Sinatra. Sinatra evoked a restrained eloquence. His songs were love songs, not sex songs. They were suggestive, not overt. Such songs were therefore far sexier than anything you’ll find today. Like they say about a woman in a sweater, it’s what you don’t see that is the turn-on.

          Our tastes have been polluted by Progressive culture. We need to go on a diet in order to learn what real food tastes like. You can’t live on fast-food, or at least you can’t live well on it.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        And what libertarians don’t understand is that once something is in the market it has tacit approval attached to it, so therefore it is automatically deemed “good.” And if you deem it “bad,” the one-dimensional free-market thinkers (such as they are) will then say that you are that McCarthyite demon of repressive censorship.

        Libertarianism is anti excellence. If every choice is equally valid then there is no reason to improve.

        Now the inner-party Left understands this very clearly. While they blather on about equality and all choices being valid, they are busy getting their children into private schools, etc.

        The old mores whereby all were urged to improve themselves have been killed by the inner-party Left. Thus many who would have striven for excellence in the past, are happy to remain static or regress. The inner-Party Left is quite happy with this as they were meant to rule in any case and it is just so much easier when the mob gives up and says ok.

        The Libertarians, lacking the perspicacity of the inner-party Left, actually believe all choices are equally valid.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The old mores whereby all were urged to improve themselves have been killed by the inner-party Left.

          I agree with your points. “Equality” is for the masses and the leaders will waste no time putting their kids into private schools, etc. It’s amazing that people don’t notice this. But once you become part of the democratized “mass,” it seems you no longer can be anything but a blob of flesh to be enlarged (perhaps with the assistance of a motorize cart — and I’m still working on getting down to 185…I actually gained back about 3 pounds lately . . . damn fig bars, the vile things).

          As Christians, conservatives, and traditionalists of America, we’ve always had to pick and choose for ourselves lest the proverbial gum of the Kultursmog get stuck on the bottom of our shoes. And it’s much better if we have wise parents guiding us. It’s much better still if we have schools and universities that teach traditional and tried-and-true Western/Christian values. It’s much better still if the people we elect into office are people of integrity who see themselves as caretakers of an important Trust.

          But we rarely have one of those, let alone all of those. So we tip-toe through the Communistic tulips, trying to live our lives with meaning and purpose, and (not being nihilists) we try to maintain a friendly landscape for those who will follow us. Alas, if you judge only by the debt we are passing onto our children, even maintaining the landscape is too much for this current short-sited people.

          And I do believe that 80% of what we say here at StubbornThings would have little or no meaning to the general populace. And I don’t say that because we strive for elitism but because the majority of the culture has reached a critical mass of “democracy,” that dumbed-down and slob-like state-of-being wherein the very idea of noble is not on the radar and to “uplift” means cosmetic surgery for your bosom.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Remember that the Soviets prated of equality while letting the Nomenklatura have their very special privileges. Much the same happened with IngSoc in 1984. Liberals follow such interesting precedents.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    My observation is that people tend to like what they grew up with, which is usually the popular music when they’re moderately young, maybe mixed in with at least some of what their parents liked enough to expose them to. In my case, that tends to be the pop/soft rock and related sub-genres of the 1960s, which is one reason why my favorite singers include the likes of Petula Clark, the Carpenters, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. (A high percentage of my music collection is by female singers, which probably isn’t a coincidence.) My familiarity with more recent music is much less, since I rarely happen to come across it. (I did get a CD of Shelby Lynne, but that’s because it largely consisted of old Dusty Springfield songs.)

    As for opera, the main problem for me is that I can’t understand the words (I know no foreign language well enough to follow along, though I can manage a little in French, which is occasionally useful when listening to Petula Clark). Nor is the instrumental music good enough (after all, the words are what count), unlike ballet. (I try to listen to The Nutcracker every Christmas season.) When Wagner’s Ring cycle was on TV a few decades ago, I watched Das Rheingold but didn’t go further.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      My observation is that people tend to like what they grew up with, which is usually the popular music when they’re moderately young, maybe mixed in with at least some of what their parents liked enough to expose them to.

      I’m going to let my inner Pelosi show (the impulse to dismiss that which came before my anointed self) when I say that one of the requirements of being a member of Western Culture is to roam beyond the rote. Where I differ from Pelosi and her ilk is that I do not do so because I have learned to despise my culture and those who came before me.

      Our culture (given that it has successfully enabled us to get where we are at all) is like an Apollo 11 moon shot. You’re strapped to this rocket of culture. But upon reaching a destination roughly called “civilization,” we then do a little moon-walking into the environs to discover what we may discover. But unlike the punks, dumb-asses, and Vandals of the Left, never would it occur to me to blow up the lunar lander because I thought I didn’t need it anymore or that it was inherently corrupt because it didn’t do light speed.

      It’s ironic (but not unexpected) that the “Progressive” orientation to art is to uplift the vulgar, the stupid, the ugly, the plain, the profane, and the merely popular. But in our Fairman-like quest to engage new forms in order to enrich and expand ourselves (good god, I may even talk myself into trying opera), we take one small step for a fan, one giant leap for musickind. (Put that on a gold-plated plaque and I think it will do better.)

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      My observation is that people tend to like what they grew up with, which is usually the popular music when they’re moderately young, maybe mixed in with at least some of what their parents liked enough to expose them to

      While this may be true, part of growth is trying to expand one’s horizons (sorry for the cliche’) and search for excellence. Now it is true that there can be a certain level of excellence in pop music. But it is equally true that the ability and effort required to reach excellence in the classical music realm is significantly higher than that of pop.

      I would also say that holds true for most of pop verses rap, which is to singing what Guitar Hero is to playing guitar.

      Last year PBS ran the whole Ring cycle and I watched all. I thought they were very good. I saw Tristan und Isolde at the Met many years ago, which was equally fine as far as signing, but I didn’t think much of the sets.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    If you happen to attend an opera in a class venue, you will find that a written translation is generally present in the form of a crawl above the stage…..not everything, but a synopsis of what is occurring. The true opera buff will go online or purchase the librettos that serve as the lyric book. Most of these are available free and on line. However, I find that the universality of the musical beauty and the performers themselves give ample cues as to the action, and generally only a synopsis of events are needed in preparation for a new work. It is worth noting that the opera has generally morphed into the musical—a natural and truly American art form. Opera is undergoing a certain revival among the young, and I am not referring to the Rock Opera of Tommy or Quadraphenia. The recent revival of 80’s opera in “Les Miserables” I believe would fall under the operatic genre, as few words were spoken. America’s one great opera by Aaron Copeland, “The Tender Lands” is a tour de force. I am not sure if Benjamin Britten is an American, but his great work is relatively contemporary. One needs to give the form time to work into your soul, because its nature does not allow itself to be approached superficially –like reading translated Konei Greek. There is much distance to be travelled. But it is well worth the effort.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      This is my favorite opera. Other than that (and a few arias by Maria Callas), I haven’t been able to get into operas. The fat lady may sing, but it may be some time before I don opera glasses.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Even though I was a singer, I always found lyrics to be just another way to deliver music. The different ways a sound can be vocalized can bring quite different colors to the same note. It is also true that some words or sounds make certain notes, in my case it was high notes, easier to deliver. Still, to me, the music was much more important than the words.

      To me, the voice is an instrument like any other, except it is the best and most pure instrument. It has more variations than any other instrument.

      Britten was a Briton, alright he wasn’t around during Roman times so technically he was British. Over 50 years ago, I was a boy soprano in a city wide boys choir and sang his War Requiem. It is a beautiful piece.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      For a modern take on classical vocal music akin to opera I would recommend that everyone find an album of Delius and listen to it in a quiet room.

      For progressive rock, YES.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    Some beautiful pieces:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLtqZewjwgA The Sull’ aria featured in the Shawshank Redemption

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xuzkPjhNAo The Flower Song from Lakme with the greatest coloratura soprano of the modern age — Joan Sutherland

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    And I don’t doubt that some of you have read or heard Glenn Beck’s take on What does “The Day the music died” mean?

    I would take some of his interpretation with a grain of salt. But then maybe he’s consulted with McLean or otherwise has read something he’s said about that song.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Perhaps Beck came up with this during his drug induced haze period.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Some of his interpretations make sense. Others seem like mere guesses, as if he’s opened the gut of a chicken and is reading the entrails. Still, he does make a few good interpretations, in my opinion.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I thought some of his observations interesting, but I think he was trying to give the song an overarching theme which wasn’t there.

          Sometimes song writers just look for words which sound good.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            That sounds much like my own reaction. Beck makes some interesting points about some of the lyrics’ connections, but I suspect that McLean was simply making a lot of references to the popular music of that era. There are a lot of religious references there, of course, though many weren’t in the earliest version played on radio. I once thought it would be fascinating to see a music video try to keep up with all the images in the song.

  7. J.C. Michael says:

    Having grown up on 60s and 70s work, I totally agree with the author. Most everything now (and has been since mid-90s) is absolute garbage. Much of it vulgar, offensive, and pointless to top it all off. And agree about where Country has gone. To Hell. In a pickup truck. With empty beer cans and bottles. “Gettin Drunk On a Plane” ought to be an absolute utter embarrassment to whomever even came up with the idea for the ‘tune’ (using that term lightly.)

    On a rare occasion I’ll find something like ‘Learn To Fly’ by the Foo Fighters (had to get my kid to tell me the band’s name), but probably because it actually has a couple of neat harmonic card tricks like the Beatles were so fond of. In other words, it took somebody more than 30 minutes to write. And a funny thing – I was NEVER a fan of Rod Stewart. Until he made the 4 albums of “The Great American Songbook”. They are in my ‘most frequent’ CD carousel . :)

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I was NEVER a fan of Rod Stewart.

      Neither was I. One of the nicer things I used to say about him was that he couldn’t carry a tune in a basket. Like many many pop singers, without the electronics behind them, Stewart, already horrible on an album, was atrocious live.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      To Hell. In a pickup truck.

      LOL. Good one. I used to listen to country when I worked at an ad agency and my superior there (a girl) liked to listen to country. At the time this was when country was just starting to cross over to pop. You had the likes of Ricky Scaggs, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton (9 to 5), Juice Newton, Eddie Rabbitt, Anne Murray, Alabama, and a few others like that. I’m sure I’ve missed some big names.

      Anyway, the point is, I got used to it. And as far as I know, there was no lasting damage although every once in a while I have the urge to park a car in my backyard and just let the grass grow up around it.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Don’t forget, Tennessee Ernie Ford forged that connection back in the 1950s with “Sixteen Tons”. Of course, I don’t know how many of us remember music that far back.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          My mother was a big fan of TEF and would religiously (the proper way to do it) watch his TV program. We even had a couple of his albums and I am well familiar with his rendition of that great old song. He had an Old Testament kind of voice. He could actually be just a touch depressing to listen to, although that’s a subjective assessment. He certainly was talented.

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    The August 25 National Review has an interesting article (“The Year the Culture Broke” by Armond White) on the subject of modern culture, its domination by liberals, and how this came about. His argument is that the key year was 2004,, when the Left reflexively reacted with extreme hostility to The Passion of the Christ (he doesn’t mention it, but a key aspect is that they smeared American Christians over their expected response, and as usual never apologized when their smear proved to be false) and with extreme support for Fahrenheit 9/11 (loving the message so much that they didn’t care that this “documentary” was full of lies). I think many here would find it very interesting.

    The issue has some other pieces. There’s the article proposing a “middle ground” on immigration that some here will remember from NRO (having responded to it, as I did among others). There’s a mostly good piece on gun prohibition as a historical means of controlling non-whites in America by Charles C. W. Cooke (though he naively thinks the gun prohibitionists are sincere in their concern for crime), and an a review of a book on Falun Gong and the Chicoms’ war on them (especially “harvesting” their bodies).

  9. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The August 25 National Review has an interesting article (“The Year the Culture Broke” by Armond White) on the subject of modern culture, its domination by liberals, and how this came about

    I am with Glenn on this. I believe a major shift occurred between JFK’s assassination and the first round of the “British Invasion” which had been completed by the summer of 1964.

    The differences between pre-1964 and post-1964 America were huge and grew larger with time.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      In 1964, America was at the zenith of empire. It was the highwater mark of our US dollar and world influence. Viet Nam was the distant rumbling of a far off land. It was pre-hippie, pre-urban strife, pre-existential angst, pre- Great Society, pre-American self doubt. When Kennedy was killed on the cusp of 1964, a shadow seemed to fall over our adolescent dream of eternal progress and cracks began to show in the national hull. Soon after, Rubber Soul was released and that sealed the fate of the West….

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Of course that means I have to put on “Rubber Soul” this morning and give it a spin.

        I think one of the primary questions we have to answer is, Why were we open to Cultural Marxism? People have been teaching noxious ideologies forever. Not all take off. Why did this one in a country that was prosperous like never before?

        One answer is that our prosperity itself weakened us. It gave us expectations for a life that would always, and therefore must always, get better. This included not only the burgeoning material products but the ideological products such as “equality.”

        Facilitating this and extending this was the convergence of the industrialized (thus highly productive) West and mass communications. I would posit that when products and fads could spread like wildfire through TV, radio, movies, and newspapers — and were made relatively cheap — we no longer remained our father’s sons (or daughters, for that matter). We became a product of mass-culture.

        And mass-culture is the culture of having every little want and need administered to. It’s no wonder that so many Christian churches have turned into little more than audio-visual entertainment centers. What chance does a “Thou shalt not” have in an environment where there are twenty brands of toothpaste on the shelf?

        Our entitlement culture is the natural outcome of a people who simply want and will respect no limitations to their wants. We are the mass mind — and not much soul and very little wisdom is developed by the culture that came up with “love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The article I mentioned, of course, puts the break later, but I would agree that it was actually already in progress. The assassination of JFK, followed soon by the assassinations of King and RFK, certainly played a major role in breaking the culture. So did Vietnam; so did the glorification of the young (who were as decadent as the young always are, mixing narcissism with idealism and lacking the maturity that comes from experience). I suspect that the last aspect was the crucial one, particularly when combined with the failure of authorities in many places to enforce standards.

      Some friends used to have some records of lectures by Al Capp. He thought of himself as a liberal by and large, but (unlike so many liberals) he was able to see the flaws of the Left (e.g., the nihilistic student activists he mocked as Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything), which is what angered more foolish liberals such as Isaac Asimov. In one of those lectures, he discussed a college incident in which Robert MacNamara was so threatened by violence that he needed special protection and such (sorry, I don’t remember the details 40+ years after hearing it). The college president just saw the violence as some sort of political activism — to which Capp said that in that case, rape was just a social transaction and robbery a financial transaction.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I don’t believe a generation gap exists in music now.  I believe it’s much more serious than that:  that music is largely dead because latter generations have never been exposed to real music..

    Going back to Susan’s major premise, a year or so ago my 13-year-old nephew came to me and wanted the music on his phone changed to a format that would work on his new phone. I was able to find a conversion mechanism but it left the music with skips in it. I have no idea why. So he basically just, presumably, re-purchased the songs he wanted to keep.

    And I listened to the songs he had on his phone while dong the conversion. I pride myself in being able to listen to (and like) almost anything (other than rap and opera). I was on the grunge bandwagon. I like (less now) classic rock ‘n’ roll. Bluegrass. Rockabilly. Blues. Jazz. Heavy metal. Klaus Nomi (there is no category for him). Folk. Irish folk/rock. Enya. (And taking a line from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles) . . . annnnnd Methodists.

    But the music I heard when trying to translate these songs was beyond bubble gum. It was beyond discordant. It had long ago passed over the rickety bridge of “pop.” It was complete and utter crap. It made fingers-on-the-blackboard sound like the music of the gods by comparison. A cat in heat would have been a symphony in G major by another comparison.

    My nephew is a pretty good guy. But I can’t help wondering what this kind of music is doing to people. I suppose you’ve all heard of the fad movement to play Mozart and Beethoven to babies in the womb as a way to stimulate and enrich their minds. It’s not a bad idea in theory, and certainly will do no harm. But a mind shaped by this fast-food music I heard on my nephew’s phone is going to end up like a body shaped by fast-food food.

    That said, I’ve watched as a generation of hippies have wasted their emotional and intellectual life on 60’s music which played to their ego and developed in them a strong narcissism. What they learned from this genera is that they were the first enlightened generation. Before they graced us with their presence there was only conflict born of ignorance. Make love, not war, man.

    So I suppose going by the Hippocratic oath of “First, do no harm,” the utter mindless crap my nephew is listening to could be as noisy and insignificant as a passing thunderstorm. But the same can’t be said for 60’s music which helped to give us the mental, emotional, and ideological underpinning for Utopia which we are still chasing today.

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