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

Saturday, April 03, 2004


Several weeks ago I saw a PBS documentary on Nat King Cole. He's as charming to watch as to listen to. Comes across as . . . a nice guy. Having a good time. So at ease, even when playing piano at lightning speed. Singing a song while playing intricate piano accompaniment and looking at the camera.

Looking at the camera. So when he slightly emphasizes the word "ridiculous" in a song (see previous post), he's trying to "put the song across," as the old show-biz saying goes, implying: to communicate is to "put something across." What does communication put across? Ideas, emotion, images -- the wealth of comprehended experience; meaning. What is the something across which communication puts its meanings? The gulf which separates people.

The other night (March 29) I was scratching at the distinction between meditative, introspective music and more outward-looking, socially-positioned music. The approach to singing exemplified so beautifully by Nat King Cole -- communicative, attentive to verbal nuances, looking at the camera -- it's antithetical to most rock singing. The typical presentation of a rock song illustrates the idea that the listener is eavesdropping on the singer's private thoughts. Singer's eyes are closed, rolled back in his head, staring at the ceiling, staring into vacant space -- no eye contact with the listener. Soliloquy, meditation, introspection -- funny words to describe a rock singer bellowing at the top of her lungs, but that's the rock passion.

One of 'em anyway.

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