We woke up to high north winds this morning. All night, the sound of our bathroom vents rattling. It sounded too much like those blizzardy nights from my South Dakota childhood, or those blizzardy days in western New York in my adulthood. The sound of a dying year. How in the world did we get to November so quickly? Just last week it was July. Now we have Halloween behind us and immediately in front of us is Thanksgiving and Christmas and another new year. My old cry of anguish, tempus fugit. And even my carpe diem now disallows my hands to seize the day as one day after another blows by in this high north wind.
I may sound like a broken record, but I have to comment once again on the state of popular music these days. Do you even know or remember what a broken record sounds like? If an old vinyl 78 or 45 or 33.3 developed a crack or scratch, the needle would jump and the musical passage would repeat and repeat and repeat until one ran to either take the needle off or put it ahead of the crack or scratch. Well, here I go again, repeating and repeating until someone either stops me or puts my needle ahead. Too much modern singing, too many modern songs, are not really singing or songs. They’re performance. How can someone like Rhiana, whose last cd has already sold thirty-one million copies, enamor an audience to the extent of such huge sales? Sexuality, beauty, performance. But not singing ability. Too often, she and the other successful recording artists today sing songs the words of which I can’t understand or aren’t worth understanding. So much depends on the visual aspect of their performances--the outlandish outfits they wear, the pelvis thrusts and dance segments backed by other dancers and the ever-present ear shattering guitars and percussion. The volume not only distracts from the lyrics, it almost completely overwhelms them. I want songs that I can hear and understand. I want singers who can actually sing. I don’t want rappers and hip-hoppers. I don’t need bells and whistles and light shows. So, Rhiana and Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga and Beyonce and all other performers like them, first learn how to sing, then sing songs that make sense, use words that actually rhyme, patterns that are interestingly diverse. Let me hear Barbra and others like her make songs moving and beautiful. Appeal to my ears, not just my eyes. Okay, now you can throw away this old broken record.