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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"For even that vulgar and tavern musick which makes one man merry another mad strikes in me a deep fit of devotion and a profound contemplation of the First Composer. There is something in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers; it is a hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole world." -- Sir Thomas Browne (1605 - 1682), quoted in Music Ho! by Constant Lambert, 1934

I didn't watch American Idol tonight. I'm on the west coast. I read who won on the web an hour before it was broadcast here. Its chief interest for me lies in its sporting quality -- who's up, who's down, who's winning, who's losing. The people voting are inspired to vote. The drama lies in the real-time reactions of the judges to the singers' performances. Simon gets all the press but his rudeness is pretty dull and predictable, and I'm sure he's happy to be boo-ed all the way to the bank. Randy and Paula are more attractive. But taking pleasure in watching Simon rip into the live psyches of the performers really does call to mind Glenn Gould's comment that live performance is a gladiatorial blood sport.

And when I don't like the songs, I remember that even a bad song is a hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole world.

And Paula was right -- they're all winners!

-- Thomas Hart Benton, Doing the Twist, 1960
-- Romare Bearden, Out Chorus, 1979 - 1980
-- William H. Johnson, Street Musicians, 1940

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