Recently I DVR'ed a group of concerts by a bunch of old farts. One of them, ELP (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) had a 40 year reunion show.
Well, I once thoroughly enjoyed what they did in music in the 60's. So innovative, so googly moogly with Keith Emerson's soaring Moog synthesizer lines.
They played a bunch of new songs or material no one had ever heard interspersed with things like Pictures at an Exhibition, From the Beginning, Lucky Man, and a few other recognizable pieces.
It was nice to see that Greg Lake still had a fine baritone, and looked a bit fatter than me. Whereas Carl Palmer on drums went into a solo at one point and removed his T-shirt, which he ought not to have done. Not a pretty sight.
As much as I wanted to enjoy the music, it didn't hold up. The lyrics of the songs were jejune and puerile. Emerson's vaunted keyboard skills and Moog swoops seemed like so much tired noodling to me.
Their new material was tired and without any distinction.
Then I listened to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd with some friends performing his old stuff and some new things.
Gilmour is a fine lead guitarist with a great instinct for melodic playing, but his songs are all so damn slow and depressing. Not one rocker in the bunch. It's as if he's on Quaaludes and the audience is all stoned to zombieland on weed.
And again, idiotic, simplistic lyrics. These guys have no idea how stupid it sounds for them to be singing against war, as if warbling that peace is so much nicer will change the fact that this world is ruled by the aggressive use of force.
It's not that Gilmour was bad, just that he and his music is irrelevant.
Then I watched snippets of a concert tour by Robert Plant and his Band of Joy interspersed with the most pretentious nonsense spouted by him from an interview where he wanted to sound deep and profound but came off as incoherent and self-important.
Everything his band played was new material he wrote or co-wrote with them.
Actually, I listened more to his music than others (I love the 30 second fast forward jump on the DVR remote).
Plant is very deeply engaged with American Old Timey music and used that as a jumping off point for his songs. Although derivative, his music wasn't half bad. It felt new and contemporary in its way. I just didn't love it. But I didn't hate it or disdain it.
My biggest problem these days in listening to music new or old is that the lyrics fail for me. They overwhelmingly reflect immaturity, stupidity, idiotic sexuality, or morons thinking they're profound at twenty-two. The fact that Crosby, Stills and Nash still believe in all the silly shite they sang about in 1969 is enough to condemn them.
And I found that the extended guitar driven pieces I thought so great then like 49 Bye Byes, or Suite Judy Blue Eyes are musical drivel now. The lyrics make no real sense, they never did, but when you're stoned they mean so much because they should; and then there's the guitar parts that go on and on and make no musical sense after awhile. They're just pure self-indulgence.
But if you listen to the Great American Songbook of Gershwin, Mercer, Berlin, and so on, their songs still work for they were written for adults about adult feelings and sensations, desires, and reflections.
A lot of folk songs hold up because they express simple and basic ideas of love and loss, hope and betrayal, joy and despair.
Yet I find few hymns hold up even though many are beloved because theology dates itself to its era. Perception of God's nature and the theology people have imbibed changes from age to age and so The Old Rugged Cross, or Nearer My God to Thee, or How Great Thou Art flag over time while Amazing Grace and 'Tis a Gift to Be Simple endure because they are more pure and simple with undying melodies.
Anyway, that's my Friday rumination.