Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Friday, February 20, 2004

THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST (Part 6 of Driving Down the Mountain with Ella and Friends)

"There is never enough time to hear an excess of talent" -- Billy Strayhorn talking about the difficulty of introducing new work for the Ellington orchestra when their fans wanted to hear three or four decades of favorites.

Growing up in the 1970s, the past already rocked me more than the present. I liked Queen and some of the progressive rock groups in junior high school, but not as much as I liked the Beatles or the Beach Boys. When punk came along, that rocked me, but after the Replacements released "Tim" in the mid-80s, I pretty much lost the thread. Meanwhile, my folks had jazzed me on jazz from childhood on, with their own records and by buying cool records for me. Classical too. So the past was already huge by 1977, my first year of high school. Records brought the past into the present, and I was intent upon learning about it. Digging it, archeological-like, man.

Listening to the Beatles' first album the other day, it sunk that it's as old as me -- 40! The music hasn't lost its peppy fresh pop, its charm or its energy, but being into it is a mark of being an afficionado. Unless you grew up with it, which I didn't. (Subliminally, I heard the hits on the radio in early early childhood. When I bought old Beatles albums in my mid-'70s early teen years, songs I had no consciousness of ever having heard were familiar, because I had heard them. Not as a fan, but as an absorptive young child.)

Listening to Louis Armstrong, the same sense of the pastness of the past struck me. (And I had had similar subliminal listening experiences with Louis. My first memory of hearing "What a Wonderful World," a song contemporary with the Beatles, is hearing Rich Little's dreadful "impression" of it on TV. Like the first time I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the song was totally familiar to me. I'd heard it.)

Does the degree of pastness start to fade away at some point? In some ways, the first Beatles record seems older-fashioned than "Ella and Friends." The deliberate naivete of songs like "Do you want to know a secret" calls back to the sweetness of pop songs before Tin Pan Alley added some swagger in the teens and twenties. Sweet old pop songs like "A Bicycle Built for Two."

Well, the Beatles aren't THAT far back past. Or maybe they are. For people born in the '70s, I wonder.

Music music music. There's always been music. There's always been music happening. There's always been music happening in a way that vibes with whatever vibe you happen to be vibing. I've lost the thread of music today, but on the radio I hear songs to dig almost every day. New songs. And if some songs don't vibe me, it has always been thus. Try not to worry about the vibes that don't vibe you. Don't forget. This is important.

Ezra Pound despised Freud, and in general I'm not a big Pound fan, but Freud would agree, as I do, with this line of Ez's: "All ages are contemporaneous in the mind."

Chronology is a work of reconstruction. Raw memory is a-jumble.
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?