In the year, 2020
Ah, notes Ive heard about
And there I would be, watching television, struggling to decipher
the words of a ghetto-shtick Rapper not those found in his
muuuu-sic, for those words were all too clear ... Rather, the seemingly
mindless gibberish he offered in his televised interview. Reasons for
the interview, wholly unknown.
It was here that he often referred to his art
uttering the term several times, in fact. This sporadically supplemented
with his I dont know thoughts preceded
with the words, as an art-ist blah, blah,
Gee umm .. Jesus how do I say? .. Im sorry,
Youre not an artist. Youre an atonal, synthesized piece
of artificially colored, studio-processed cheese with a fucking rhyming
dictionary. And your product, interestingly enough, comes individually sealed
in the very same plastic wrapper. The cheese is just a little less toxic.
Perhaps, less spoiled. And no, your words arent poetic.
There, I said it.
Okay now before some of you people start with your accusations of
racism (even with a flurry of white Rappers), the most profound pity
of Rap-Crap and, to a similar degree, Hip Hop is in its
potential to permanently defile the rich heritage of black
music (as frequently termed), from Joplin to Ellington, Billie Holiday
to Miles Davis, Richie Havens to yes Stevie Wonder. To Rappers
everywhere: If you want to continually soil and further debase your own,
personal world thats fine. But dont take
down the real artists with you.
Music, for all of the potential complexity and nuance that can be coaxed
out of a mere, 12-tone Western scale, has but two requisites: Pitch
and duration. Rap, indeed does have the duration thing
down. My congratulations to you. But Im sorry you cant
declare the use of pitch on the basis of some included drum loop
samples found on the Casio keyboard you scooped up at Best Buy. Yes, I
know Rap and Hip Hop songgggs arent produced
on some low-end Casio instrument in the Demo Mode. They merely
sound as if they were.
Indeed, Rap and Hip Hop can easily make one long for the most insipid
and sugary-sweet, 1980s motion picture soundtrack duets Okay
Hold it but no Endless Love. Please.
Id rather shave my pubic hair with a cheese grater. But, in a
related aside, I hasten to interject that I am not referring
to popular film-songstress, Jennifer Warnes ... She remains to
be one of my favorite contemporary female vocalists. (Jennifer sits at home
in Texas reading this now thinking, Whew, thank
God. I thought he was coming after me for a second. Glad I escaped
his fucking wrath.)
But I bring up Jennifer Warnes for a reason A couple of years ago,
I secured a digital transcription of her long out-of-print performance from
the yes motion picture, Norma Rae. The song that
accompanied the title and credits sequence was the magnificent, It
Goes Like It Goes, sounding much like it had been pulled straight from
the Randy Newman songbook it wasnt He provided One
More Hour for Jennifer to sing at the close of Milos Formans,
Ragtime as a song that would compete for Best Song at
the 1981 Oscars against Endless Love.
Jesus, I thought at the time. The End Days
are at hand. But no, I was wrong. It would, years later, be
the Rappers who rode the land as the horsemen of the Apocalypse. And Disco
had only been a warning.
But I digress
Upon loading my new digital, Warnes performance of It Goes Like It
Goes with childlike anticipation, there it was That magnificent
grand piano and string opening So haunting, as it spiraled
through an almost Stravinsky-like, dissonant succession of notes before
it resolved with complete and satisfying consonance. Much like an autumn
leaf making an eccentric and swirling descent before touching ground where
it then ultimately rests in a state of tranquil repose
Orchestral opening to 'It Goes Like It
Simply click the 'Play' icon on your transport
I cant even begin to articulate just how brilliant that opening sequence
was. If you, yourself, cant hear it or feel it then I
have no words to explain it.
A mere 11 second intro, prior to the opening vocal, that was scored
to simply set the stage for what would further unfold
in the Jennifer Warnes performance and that which, in less than a
dozen seconds would contain more sheer musicality than the entirety
of both the Snoop Dogg and Kanye West catalogs combined.
But as I continued listening to the track, I would be reminded yet
again of what an incredibly fine singer Warnes was and remains,
to this day. Someone who could not only belt a line with undaunted
ease, but one who also knew precisely when to
pull back, to sound more humble and breathy, with
a wisp, for want of a better term or description that which
one might interpret as being ever so slightly constrained but,
in truth, is completely under her control just before she opens
the pipes to show you what she has within
Sound Clip of Jennifer Warnes Vocal
Simply click the 'Play' icon on your transport
Britney Spears: You have just been trumped.
To Jennifer: Magnificent. Every note.
But this is not a discussion about Jennifer Warnes. Rather,
I use Jennifer as a singular example one of many
that demonstrates just how far weve fallen since. And, if tragically,
how weve often grown to accept it, now singing the praises of those
who may not entirely warrant it simply because theyve produced
something that can still be identified as music at all. As
with other arenas, we as a people have been systematically,
if gradually, dumbed down.
.. I must admit, I do often reflect upon the women of
music. Jennifer Warnes. Janis Ian. Judy Collins, among others. And I cant
help but notice that while the boys of previous decades seemingly
have had, at least, a fighting chance of living on, the
girls as they became more matured women were often kicked
to the curb by the major label sector of the recording industry. Think
about it, people Who has had the better, continuing coverage
and who has been summarily dismissed?
Even forgetting those also in attendance as part of a group
behind a weathered front man, you can probably conjure at least ten fat,
droopy-eyed, leather-faced, and brain-dead pop-rock-folk musicians
with a dick in less than the space of one minute. The very ones
youre listening to on this day. Now consider the babes
Anyone? Take all the time you need.
The essentially retired Streisand. Perhaps Madonna as a stand-out
exception who has spent more time and energy on remaining
valid and relevant, than on her actual music. Joni Mitchell
at least still, perhaps, recognized but when was the last time
you heard her on the radio? Beyond this, recollections become increasingly
more difficult dont they?
I mean, hell I dont even want her on
my playlist if she doesnt have perky tits. This, as we continue to
clutch our early Carly Simon album covers LP size. For as it relates
to the skirts, I dont just want my music I want
my fucking pornography, too. I cant merely listen. I need to
fantasize, as well. Thats where we are, people. Thats where
And the often rare, but commendable songstresses of this day will,
too, be set out to pasture by the recording industry to vie for themselves
while more of their male contemporaries will be offered extended
support as if they bought it as part of a warranty package.
I know it seems as though I have tangentially gone off on some sort of feminist
rant I understand. But I could not write this piece without making
mention of a trend so few have ever even considered. It never even
occurred to most. And, as considerations go, it profoundly effects
what you listen to and what you have to search for ... if you
bother searching at all.
Interestingly, the girls are now often writing and producing
better work more matured, if you prefer than when they
were at the peak of popularity. Many of you will just never know it ... This,
as certain anointed elements of the Boys Club
turns out progressively shittier music, by the decade, feeding off of legend.
No, this isnt Battle of The Sexes I merely call them
as I see them and hear them.
This said, many of the boys were also left out in the cold,
as well, relative to their stature I think of, say, Art Garfunkel
simply one of the most angelic voices known to pop music, additionally
demanding of the highest quality from material to production. I recall
watching an interview with Garfunkel where he stated, flatly, that people
were no longer drawn to fine, intelligent melodies (I paraphrase, based on
recollection). And this wasnt said with a tone of sour grapes. Art
Garfunkel was correct, with complete objectivity. Save, perhaps one
I dont recall whether it was my second or, indeed, third
attendance of Les Miserables in London. But during some
one of these performances, it struck me As it related to quality
where art and popular appeal would once again meet this
... was the New Pop. I speak not of Les Mis,
specifically or in isolation. Rather, I refer to musical
theatre, as a genre (and no, Im not even gay). It would be where words,
again, would be crafted as a virtual requirement of its form. And
melodies remained inventive. For musical theatre had long since become more
adventurous and innovative than the Paint Your Wagon days.
Yes, I know that for many much of Andrew Lloyd Webber is a
bit over the top whereby Randy Newman effectively relayed that
hed rather poke his eardrums out with an ice pick than to listen to
his work. But still, as it relates to craft, contemporary musical
theatre would become, in many ways, the new Lennon-McCartney.
That which was representative of quality work while still often remaining
yes, hummable. Accessible. Certainly memorable.
I understand many cant possibly regard musical theatre as
pop music. As for me .. I have to.
Beyond this, while we may have in more recent times applauded
Coldplays, Viva la Vida which was very good
in a number of respects, it still wouldnt be quite as stunning
as, say, The Whos Quadraphenia (yes, I can Rock
n Roll, as much as anyone), the works of Pink Floyd, or yes
With this, aside from musical theatre that, even logistically, just
cant be Song of The Month, the search will
always be on.
But no, not all of music need be 'art', per se, if I have ushered
such impressions. It can also simply be fun ... or merely ... danceable,
I suppose. But let it at all times ... be