Friday, July 24, 2009

Lighten Up. Take a Break from Seriosity

I have loaded my iPod (a gift from my daughter) with a wide variety of music -- classical, big bands, Sousa marches, rock & roll, bluegrass, blues, easy listening, and country. I use music to be uplifted and entertained, to give me a break from the demands the bad guys impose on us hourly.

Izhak Perelman's recording of Beethoven's violin concerto in D is my favorite. I refused to buy a CD player until it was issued as a CD. Then I added all of the Mario Lanza archives and the Three Tenors. Then Souza, a big time inspiration, especially the piccolo solo in the Stars and Stripes Forever. Wow! What memories of marching in those midshipman parades! And The Seldom Scene -- how much they evoke the images of my college days when the Anchormen appeared in national TV on Hootenany in Annapolis. Time passes -- one 0f the Anchormen, Connie Lautenbacher, is now a retired Vice Admiral (class of '64's last man ashore) and head of NOAA; but I have no doubt that he still plays a mean Dobro.

You undoubtedly have your own imbedded memories. Music takes us back and makes us laugh.

Recently (when you are over 65, 10 years ago is recent), I began to listen to country music again -- after a 50 year hiatus -- because I had ceased to enjoy the other popular formats. Quite a few contemporary country songs satisfied my preference for rational audio arts: melody, harmony, rhythm, intelligibility and lyrics. Many country lyrics are especially entertaining -- not because they are about mama, and trucks, and divorce, and jail, and trains, and getting drunk, but because they tell a story and are often humorous. And not infrequently they contain good poetry. I don't necessarily subscribe to much of the populist and hedonistic philosophy inherent in these songs, but I am discerning enough to overlook that and enjoy them as they are.

Poetry? Consider Toby Keith's Rodeo Moon. Here are a couple of kids who have struck out in their truck to earn their way in the Rodeo circuit. "Sometimes we stay at a hotel when we are riding that hot band of luck. Sometimes we crash at a friend's house. Sometimes we just sleep in the truck." But Keith creates images: "Our windshield's a painting that hangs in our room. It changes with each mile like a radio tune." There are many poetic country songs that can be appreciated as art and many more that are just plain fun.

And many blues songs also are full of good humor -- B. B. King's especially.

So, take a break. It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere. Download iTunes. Sample Toby Keith, Jimmy Buffet, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Confederate Railroad, Brad Paisley, Kenney Chesney and many other contemporary country singers. They're a hoot.

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