Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Don’t Tell the Doors I Watch Lawrence Welk ...
If you live a long time, expect to end up knee deep in layers of culture. So much like music. All those moods, textures, rhythms. Some from childhood. Some from a lost love. Music from disco nights. From radio days. From cabarets and stadiums ...
I hear Le D’s “Float” on a Comcast station and write it down. Must buy, whoever Le D is. So, too, one called “Kazumfumi Kodama & End” by D.J. Krust. In cafes, the occasional sound I can’t resist leads to CDs on my shelf: D. J. Shadow, Bombay Dub, the latter’s “To the Shore” the hook that sold me.
In the beginning when my mom served us Ovaltine, I hummed along while the Sons of the Pioneers sang “See Them Tumbling” on a radio program. Patti Page charmed my ears with “How Much Is The Dogie In That Window.” Then came Rosemary Clooney and Nat King Cole, Lena Horne and my all-time idol, Frank Sinatra
And then — sorry, Frank — in a fish and chip café in Thornlibank, Scotland, outside Glasgow one damp evening in 1963, from a juke box I heard for the second time a song that now totally won me over:
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!
The ‘60s spoiled me ("Summer Breeze," "Saturday in the Park"), and none did a better job than the Doors — “Light My Fire” ... Here were poets with guitars. “When the music’s over, turn out the lights,” cried Jim Morrison, only years before turning out his own, doped and dead in Paris. As great as that music was, strangely, I have no desire to return to the troublesome era from whence it came.
What followed foundered. An album by Boston, given to me one Christmas, paled; I could hardly make it through once. So superior to 70s “rock” were groups like Chic (Dance, Dance, Dance Yowsa! Yowsa! Yowsa!), Heat Wave's "Boogie Nights" and Evelyn Champagne King’s “Shame," my all time dance favorite. “And The Beat Goes On,” sang another group. How I wished it had.
Since then, once in a while while not paying attention, something new invades my soul and it's love at first sound. On a bus to L.A., a dude was playing something so beguiling, I had to ask what it was. "RainForest," he told me. Paul Hardcastle, the composer and musician, remains high on my list. There was Depeche Mode, whom a younger friend sold me on, and Michael Jackson’s hot Off the Wall. But now and then, still, I drift back to Sinatra and Broadway. And to Jo Stafford, whose deep smooth voice is like non other. Who said you can’t go home again?
Sometimes, The Lawrence Welk Show satisfies another urge. Since I’ve not been active in the church in which I was raised for many years, the sainted Welk Family is the closest I get these days to church going. Some of the singers (Ken Delo, the most interesting of them all) are tops. The band is dependably solid. It’s that down home spirit bordering on Christian fellowship that keeps me coming back, I suppose.
Now Comcast is playing something called “Night Sight” — or Pocket Symphony. Another soundscape I'd like to hear more of. Quiet and misty, forlorn, out there in a twinkling void. These young music makers, born into a world so different from the one that greeted me, seem unafraid to address the lonely uncertainties that surround us all -- or is that my own soul I hear singing?
Layers of culture. So far away from that little dogie in the window...
[photos, from top down: Jim Morrison; Lena Horne; Frank Sinatra; Chic; Paul Hardcastle; Lawrence Welk band; the Beatles; Lawrence Welk; Michael Jackson; Patti Page]