Something new happened this week...I was accused of being a "weird liberal news snob" for my love of, and reliance upon, the BBC World Service as my primary news source. We did have a lively debate that day, but the matter remains unresolved. What remains though, is the piss-poor quality of most American media outlets, but indeed that's a blog for another day.
Nay, this morning we'll be talking about music. Yesterday, a story broke
about some backlash from the right-wing set against some country musicians that dared
to play for the Obamas at the White House for a TV special. "Well, I'll never listen to them again" were some of the typical comments seen in that story.
I have to tell you...when I'm elected president, no country musician will ever darken the door of MY White House. I'm sorry guys, I just don't like it. I don't listen to it, don't follow it, and have no interest in the performers or the music itself. Does that make me a music snob? Why sure it does...but no more so than the other folks that won't touch a jazz record, or dismiss the symphony as "too cerebral".
You know I was raised by musicians. As a result, nothing was ever banned in our house, and that does include the country genre. My grandaddy had a couple of "classic" 1950s performers gathering dust somewhere in his LP collection, and despite my earlier disclaimer, I harbor a secret soft spot for Patsy Cline. Nevertheless, as the son and grandson of musicians, I'm amazed to this day by the folks out there that are afraid to listen to anything new. "I just don't like X", is the refrain I get when they're queried. To quote the immortal George Carlin: "How do you know you don't like it, I've you've never even tried it?"
I have tried to live my musical life by something Duke Ellington once said. "All music is created equal. If it sounds good, it is good." You'll note there's no prejudice or class warfare there. Music is simply that; music. It's up to the listener and the artist to determine if it sounds good.
And I can't resist telling my favorite Duke Ellington story, which perhaps illustrates the ignorance of the typical American listener more than anything else. A number of years ago now, one of Ellington's wartime concerts
was being re-issued on CD. I was rather happy to run across it, and was excitedly chatting about it with a co-worker, who was also a major jazz fan.
Our next door neighbor, who was not the brightest star, overhearing us talking about "Duke", leaned over and added "I didn't know John Wayne was a musician, too." Whether intentional or ironic, the effect was immediate. My jaw still hurts from hitting the floor so hard that day.
So on this last day of 2011...don't be afraid to spin some new wax at your New Year's Eve party. You might hate it and get tomatoes and eggs thrown at you (Penguin: Why is there always somebody that brings tomatoes and eggs to a speech?) but then again, maybe you'll discover something new.
Happy New Year out there!