Friday, August 30, 2019

Quickies: A Little Nostalgia

     It’s common for men of my age to spend significant amounts of time with our memories. The memories we revisit aren’t all pleasant ones. However, my trips into the past are largely positive recollections of experiences I greatly enjoyed and want never to forget.

     (No, they didn’t all involve sex. Get your mind out of the gutter. Besides, not all sexual experiences are particularly enjoyable. Not all of mine, at any rate...though that might just mean that I was doing it wrong. Oh, never mind.)

     I’ve spent the past hour or so enjoying old Moody Blues tunes. All of them date from the Sixties and very early Seventies. I’m unfamiliar with their later efforts. When I left academia for other vistas, I lost touch with what was happening in music. I only returned to familiarity with such trends long afterward. Such are the pressures that go along with becoming a self-supporting adult.

     The Moodies of my preferred period were consummate musicians. None of them acted like “virtuosi.” They didn’t show off on their instruments. They emphasized composition and faithfulness to it. Their stuff wears very well, despite its age.

     I only had one chance to see them live. I greatly enjoyed the concert, but mostly because I loved their songs and admired them so much. At the time I was an intermediate-level guitarist, and my highest aspiration was to play as competently as did Justin Hayward. That having been said, the concert was much like listening to their recordings. That was their way.

     Yet, even though that concert didn’t expose the audience to anything we couldn’t have played on our stereos, it remains one of the brightest of my musical memories. I was in the same room with musicians I admired, listening to them do what they did so well, and yearning to attain their level of competence some day.

     Something has changed in contemporary music. It seems there’s been an ethical shift – a kind of “can you top this?” attitude that displaces musicianship. There are exceptions – Glass Hammer immediately comes to mind – but they’re not many, and they don’t get the degree of promotion they need to become widely known. Everyone else is showing off; few are humble enough to allow the import of the songs to shine through. That might be because the songs themselves aren’t terribly good, but de gustibus and all that.

     Not long ago I saw a bumper sticker that tickled me:

I May Be Old,
But I Got To See
All the Good Bands

     It resonated with me for obvious reasons. Yet it’s strange to feel that way. Maybe you will too, some day, Gentle Reader. Cherish the things you love. Clutch them to your breast, no matter what they are. All those things must pass away, just as we will. Love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em.

1 comment:

Col. B. Bunny said...

I used to enjoy Gogi Grant ("The Wayward Wind") and Patti Page ("Old Cape Cod") when I was a mere 15. The stuff of dreams. And, of course, the rock and roll of that time was fun and exciting. Now, heavy metal garbage makes me feel like I landed in the midst of a prison riot and "Christian" music is formless, tuneless, and a good imitation of a someone playing the piano with the keys covered in pancake syrup. "Ball aching" as a dear, departed parental unit used to say.