Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting Back to Basics (Reply)

Amby111 Writes: But, something was missing........."Patty, you've quoted Peggy Lee's wonderful song, "Is That All There Is?" (pretty much the way I feel about life in general)I agree with you about today's song lyrics, at least in the case of mainstream music. There aren't many Peggy Lees around anymore.

Reply: As said yesterday, I don't believe the problem today is a lack of talent. (There are many very skilled singers). It's that the talent is scattered, unfocused, homogenized and marginalized. It's like all the artists come out of the same pastry (or "idol")-making machine.

These days, singers (especially if female) also have to be great dancers, squeeze into skin tight, revealing outfits, be sexy, cool and look and act like models for either soft porn movies or Vogue.

You're right. Peggy Lee was a great singer with a sultry, smooth voice. But, that's all she had to do. Sing and look reasonably attractive. (I'm not sure if she wrote her own songs). We could appreciate Lee's (and others of her generation like Cloony and Sinatra) talent for what it was -- without all the other distractions of light shows, pyro techs, fashion shows and seemingly forced and created sex appeal.

Emphasis in the "old days" if you will, was on the music, singing and quality or catchiness of song.

These days it seems to be on everything, BUT quality of actual song, melody and lyric.

It's embarrassing to say, but I actually can't remember one song I heard Sunday night!

But, I do remember the light shows, outfits, dancing and hair styles.

The problem is, it was supposed to be "The American MUSIC Awards." What happened to the actual music?

In many ways, I feel this is a problem that transgresses across all areas in our culture -- including our relationships with animals and animal shelters:

We are far more concerned with how things seem and appear, rather than actual reality and substance.

Perhaps that is why our economy is in the tank now. Everything revolved around how things LOOKED on paper, rather than what was actually going on.

Over the years, I attended, perhaps hundreds of rock concerts.

The best concert I ever saw was Bob Dylan in, I believe, 1965.

The singer came out on a bare stage, in a plain black suit with seemingly just one light overhead and sang two sets of songs. One set alone and the other "rock" set with a small band.

Now, Dylan was never a great singer. But, the songs were intense and his lyrics unmatched by anyone in music, perhaps in all of music history.

Dylan was mesmerizing and in some ways, hypnotic.

One literally became lost in the words, moods and meanings of the songs as well as the singer's very focused performance of them.

There were no theatrics, no sexy dancers, no designer fashions and no flaming fire shows.

Just a reasonably adequate singer and absolutely, mind blowing songs and music.

Dylan was not just a concert performer. He was an experience.

The same could be said for Simon and Garfunkle. Two guys who sang a bunch of songs on a rather empty stage before a crowd of maybe a half a million in Central Park. But, there was total silence in the crowd because we were all so moved by the actual SONGS. Songs, most of us knew all the words to and grew up with. Songs that had meaning to our lives. The songs weren't about bad loves, bad drugs or wanting to jump in the sack with someone you just met. They were about LIFE.

So, yes, I am in total agreement once again with what you say in comment.

It's very hard to imagine anyone leaving an Elvis, Dylan, Lee, Sinatra or Beatles concert years ago and not remembering one song they heard.

Its hard to imagine anyone asking, "Is that all there is?"

But, yes, that's exactly what I came away with Sunday night after watching "American Music Awards."

The actual music was missing.

Unfortunately, promoters and CEOs of the show will simply try to figure out how to do it "bigger" and more spectacular next year.

What they need to do is get back to the simple basics, (like quality and depth of actual music) as we need to get back to basics in society itself: Substance over style, visuals and appearances. --PCA


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