Another sure indication that I might be getting old: I can’t stand the popular music of the day. I remember my father bellowing, “Turn that crap off,” when I would be listening to the perfectly lovely Guy Mitchell singing “Feet up, pat him on the Po Po.” My dad would be listening to Dixieland jazz which, to me, had absolutely no point. Actually, he loved all kinds of jazz. My most-unfavorite was the kind where they sounded like they were playing in the cracks. The sound always made me think of someone really young, who was not going to be a child prodigy, taking piano lessons for the first time.
And then there were those of my own era: The Crew Cuts singing “ShhhhBoom” right around the time I was graduating from high school. “Rock Around the Clock” is now a classic, as is “Why do Fools Fall in Love.” Try listening to either one without dancing, even today, with two knee replacements.
Music is emotional. Back, really back, in the days of limited access, people took their music very seriously. An objectionable trend could provoke all kinds of reaction. People rioted in the streets of Paris when they first heard Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” in 1913. Today people in this country only riot in the streets when their team wins the Super Bowl: certainly not over a piece of classical music. Yesterday my son, strolling along New York’s Fifth Avenue, saw, in the bitter cold and wind, a boisterous mob of about 200 young people and guessed it must be Jonas Brothers.
I don’t know the names of the top music stars these days. There was a time when I kept track of who was number one on the Hit Parade each week, be it The Crew Cuts, Doris Day or “F S for L S, Frank Sinatra for Lucky Strike. When I see someone with those white cords coming out of their ears, I don’t know what they’re listening to while they jog or travel on a subway. My grandchildren wear those white cords and I have to hand signal them when I need to have them hear my voice.
I remember when the Beatles came along and my younger brothers played that music all the time while my father bellowed, “Turn that crap off.” But the Beatles were good and still are; I’ve loved them for nearly 50 years.
While my brothers were fans to the music of their age, I was loving folk music and anything at all sung by Judy Collins.
Some songs should be left alone. When I hear a marching band, I brim with tears. The final music from La Boheme, wipes me out, as does “Madam Butterfly. One thing that makes me crazy is the way today’s singers feel compelled to mess up our national anthem. I’ve heard that the “Star Spangled Banner” is very difficult to sing a capella and these pop artists try to cover the fact that they can’t handle it by singing all around it to the point that it is barely recognizable. During the recent inauguration festivities, the modernization of our nation’s song was, at times, close to embarrassing.
But it’s still all music to my ears.