March 25, 2004

Give me That Old Time Rock'n'roll

I will admit to being past my due date musically, but still I believe that modern music lacks something essential. Every time the music downloader police ask a young downloader why he does it, the same rationales arise. The music is over-priced and it sucks. It sucks partly because it is atonal and, if mildly inventive, a crude knockoff of the Beatles, The Stones, or some other band they could not possibly emulate. Sorry, lads, but I grew up on the Beatles and I saw The Stones in concert, and the Butthole Surfers or Dead Kennedys are not they. It is not that I don't try to stay abreast. Plucked from the local library have come Beck, Oasis, and Linkin Park.

I have been known to download a few choice songs myself; however, it is rare that one comes off the aforementioned trio, or those of their ilk. Now, taste in music is highly subjective; nevertheless, if I can't take that tune down to a Latin city such as Rio and get the cafe locals to get up and dance to it, than it has failed on the most basic level. Very little defeats the ability of the Cariocas to boogie down to it. Much of today's arhythmic garbage could, however. Music is rhythm and beat. It may make you want to choose a Bach sonata for the wine and cheese course, or with rock, makes you want to grab the nearest member of the opposite sex to do the dirty boogie. When it makes you only want to bang heads together, it has missed some crucial point.

Dylan can croak all he wants, it is the magic of his arrangements and lyrics that has made his music immortal. Every great artist can take Dylan's clay and mould a sterling, if different tune from it. Where are those classic tunes today? Most of today's music is so inferior that nobody wants to reproduce it. Even the commercials avoid it, unless they want to make some age-related point. "Like it's a rebellion song, man. Or stuff like that. You know what I mean? Like new stuff. Like the soundtrack to "Grand Theft Auto". Like stuff that makes you real agro, you know. We are tired of that old fart music. As for rap--well rock around the glock, yo hoes. Cuz we going down for the time on the clock. But with parole, we goin' to roll." Up-lifting music for people of all ages, I'm sure, but condemned to the selling of high octane beers like Colt-45 malt--which one black gentleman remarked as I grabbed two huge bottles off the shelf, "Yo! Good to see that whitey loves that "jungle juice" too.

Let me conclude my screed with this small antecdote. I once witnessed a taxi driver pull up onto the sidewalk of a cafe in one of the great beach cities of the world. He whipped open the doors to his cab and out poured "Don't Want to Dance", by Eddie Grant, a Barbadian reggae singer. The tune was so infectious that half the cafe patrons got up and started to dance to it. They understood not a word of the lyrics, yet the beat was irresistible. That was at 11 a.m. And that was real music.

© Bud -- Rod Stewart is now crooning in my ear, "I am Sailing" -- and so am I -- off to sleep

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