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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, November 24

Music Past & Present

We’ve been fans of The Voice for the past three seasons, and both my wife and I think the vocal quality on this show is much better than that of most of the contestants on American Idol—less emphasis on performance, more on voice. We also watched part of the American Music Awards show last week. I say “part of” because we couldn’t stand to watch the whole thing. Too much inelegance, distastefulness, unclassiness, too much glitter and glitz, too many people trying to be as outlandish in style and behavior as possible.
And most of the music was too dependent on electronic amplification, the performers too involved with intricate dance steps and pelvic thrusts, the lyrics lost in speed and volume and audience noise. I sound like an old codger. I AM an old codger. And I know that musical style changes with every generation. But most of the music in the current pop scene relies more on rhythm and choreography than on lyrics. Where are all the songs from The Great American Songbook, with lyrics I can hear and understand? Audiences today seem to be made up of young people who scream and whistle and sing along with the performers, more interested in their own voices than the singer on stage. They seem to know all the lyrics that to me are incomprehensible. I love The Voice and the four judges, but their audience does the same—scream and whistle and sing along and wave their silly out-of-time arms. When the camera shifts to Miley or Alicia, they’re also singing along with the contestant. Blake and Adam don’t, leaving that trick to the ladies. The judges and contestants dip into the past for song choices, but don’t dip more than a toe or two, back to 1975 for “What I Did for Love” and the early 80’s for “Rosanna” and “9 to 5.” The musical genre that’s changed the least over the last fifty years is Country, with a capital C. Oh, yes, and Jazz, with a capital J. But that’s because most of the current jazz singers, male and female, seem to favor songs from The Great American Songbook. Jazz singers like Karrin Allyson, Jackie Allen, Michael Bublé, and Bobby Caldwell are the polar opposites of singers like Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Bruno Mars, and Justin Bieber. All have great voices, but what they sing and how they sing it are like night and day. Lady Gaga seems to be straddling the fence now that she’s shown us her Sound of Music and “Lush Life” side. I wish that more of the pop singers today would do the same. I guess I’m saying that the musical scene has passed me by without so much as a “Toodle-oo” or a farewell wave. I miss the old days, but those days are as dead as Sinatra and Ella and all the others who sang the songs I once knew and understood.
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