Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Music of Your Life

Remember when you were 18 or 20, and you’d get on an elevator and hear that annoying, saccharine music playing on a tinny speaker in the ceiling, and you’d wonder—what is that noise?

If you had any musical proclivities, you’d at least be able to discern a basic melody and rhythm pattern. You could find the down beat.
That was Muzak.

Instrumental versions of the “hits” that all sounded alike by the time their neutered musicologists had wrung all the soul and passion from tunes made popular by Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, and Henry Mancini.

You know you’ve been around a while when you step on an elevator—or walk into a public space with piped-in music--and can not only discern the melody, but also be able to chime-in on the harmony as the lyrics scroll through your mind, word for word.

Frank Sinatra and Henry Mancini tunes have given way to Frank Zappa and Hank Williams compositions. I kid you not—I heard a Muzak-treatment of a Led Zeppelin classic not long ago: “Stairway to Heaven” rendered impotent as I rode along an escalator in a department store.
Yes, I caught the irony.

I refuse to acknowledge I am “old” just because I know the words to what is now being passed off as “elevator music.” In fact, there’s big money in it for some promoters.

I notice the Houston Symphony is staging a concert November 14th with “The Music of The Eagles.” Tickets start at $25—which is less than you would’ve paid to hear the real thing, with words and music—when the Band was touring over a generation ago.

Take it Easy.

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