Sunday, December 21, 2014

Home Away from Home for the Holidays

(In the ER) There is an irony at this time of the year, described as "the most joyous," which produces the most noxious music to the ear. Some of the  "new" Christmas tunes are still recognizable, but only barely, their melodies paired with arrhythmic tempos and tattoos.  The most onerous of these collections are generally  found in hospital waiting rooms, where the wailing and bleating blends nicely with the suffering of the injured.

Some examples of such musical travesties include a Dixieland treatment of "Sleigh Ride," with a non-stop back beat that totally ignores the nuances Leroy Anderson wrote to mimic the crack of the whip in the tune.  Then there's the abominable arrangement of Franz Gruber’s "Stille Nacht--" for my money, one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written--totally destroyed by the application of a disco beat.

There are new Christmas songs being produced by a younger crop of "artists" that defy definition. In the past hour and a half that I have been waiting, one such "song" has played twice in the ER area here: A female singer whines through the same four notes for bars and bars and bars against an electronic drum track.

It's a song that's something about the memories of Christmas. I know this because at one point, she speaks over the accompaniment about eating ice cream at Christmas time; the rest of the words of the song are totally unintelligible.

The music never changes chords, either. Sometimes she sings the notes in reverse sequence, just to break the monotony. It doesn't work.

The reason I'm paying such close attention to this musical tripe is to drown out the conversation in the next bed on the other side of the hospital curtain. A man has brought his elderly father in for care for a case of "the trots." The discussion of his rectal effluent is being graphically described in color and consistency,  and a comparison to pancake batter has been effectively,  irreversibly made. The culinary history of the older gentleman next door is also being re-hashed in minute detail.

Suddenly, the shrill of a Phil Specter arrangement of "Christmas" doesn't seem so bad.

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