I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Thursday, 24 May 2012

How about tapping a foot?


Did singability mark the pop music watershed?

I listened to pop between 1951 and 1953 (as a tea-boy then trainee newspaper journalist in Bradford) and 1955 to1957 (National Service in the RAF). Beyond that anything I heard was accidental.

Although Elvis and Bill Haley were yodelling in the late fifties I’d lost interest. My big names were Tennessee Waltz (Patti Page), Oh Mein Papa (Eddie Fisher), There’s a Pawnshop on the Corner (Guy Mitchell), Shrimpboats are a’Coming (Jo Stafford) – clear-voiced, tuneful singers processing na├»ve, rather terrible songs composed as if Cole Porter and Irving Berlin had never lived.

Audience age topped out at fifty. Singers were usually in their late twenties and early thirties. The composers were (I believe) studio-bound and middle-aged. But the songs had coherent lyrics and could be sung by those who listened.

Rock/pop changed all this. The new music was based on repetition, a 700-word lyric vocabulary and unremitting volume. Electric guitars uttered twisted chord variants and synthesisers re-invented sound. The audience couldn’t even la-la what they heard; vocal participation ended and people simply went along for the ride.

I’d just discovered Bach and the new stuff, aimed at teens, didn’t tempt me.  Nor was I inclined to disinter lines such as:

I was dancin' with my darlin to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see.
I introduced him to my darlin' and while they were dancin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me.

But I can still sing this tat. The fact is you need electronics to re-create most rock/pop, but not Shrimpboats. But don’t for a minute think I’m getting sentimental.

Pic note. Stole the inset from someone who thinks it says I Love Pop Music. Surely its message is: I Irritate Others With Pop Music.  

5 comments:

Avus said...

Ah..early "pop and rock", Tone (may I call you Tone, "Mr Deaf sounds so formal?) It certainly brings back the nostalgia of youth.
Like you, I served Her Majesty in the late '50s.
When I enlisted "Che Sera, Sera" was top of the pops. But with the barrack room radio, always tuned to Radio Luxemburg, even as I tried to get some shut eye in my "pit", one could hardly help becoming a follower.
I only have to hear Buddy Holly singing "Every Day" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLBWkM0jzK0 ) to be 19 again, with all the joy and sorrow that implies. Terrible lyrics, but a catchy tune from a well loved singer. (Bach, it ain't, I'm afraid!)

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

Avus: Nice to hear from you again. One can't help wondering: on appropriate news bulletins one sees the last veterans of WW1, then the last Spitfire pilots, then the memorial services for D-Day in Normandy. Eventually old codgers in wheel-chairs who did National Service are going to be wheeled out.

Now, dear Avus, I do not wish to rain on your parade and I acknowledge immediately that you are prone to sunnier memories than I am, but I cannot think of anything more gruesome, than being transported back to age 19. My adolescence was ridiculously prolonged, I seemed congenitally incapable of getting on with young women socially (let alone the other), I was a snob, a cynic but - worst of all - I thought I could write and I couldn't. Not that I'm saying I can write now but I have learned the gentle art of improvement even though there's a long way to go. If I were to see a 19-year-old version of TD walking towards me on the pavement I would cross to the other side. There would be no profit in it.

However, one must tell the truth wherever one can. You write the words Che Sera Sera and I am not drawn back in time but to the breathy creation of that song by Doris Day. You may or may not remember when I was still BB I felt I had not recognised DD's talents at the time (typical of the younger TD) and offered a belated tribute. Getting older allows me to look back on history and pick out the bits I can see are worthwhile.TD, at 19, alas had no history.

And also to inhabit a universe in which Doris Day and JSB can co-exist on their own merits.

Do you still ride your (Dawes? was it?)and your Bimmer?

Avus said...

There are many aspects of being 19 again which I could quite enjoy - I had discovered "young women" and also "the other". After a prostate op 12 years ago the latter is but a memory. Although Socrates said that growing old and losing sex was like being unchained from a ravening beast.

The Dawes I am about to take out for 40 miles over Romney Marsh (lovely day). The BMW I sold a few weeks ago (see my latest post)

Lucas said...

I think when pop, jazz and country music get woven together in an apparently simple lyric with a haunting melody the result - whether or not through hindsight - is great. For me Tennessee Walz is one of these.

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

Lucas: There isn't any profit in my saying I disagree. Other than assessments of the opposite sex there is surely nothing more subjective than tastes in music. Even more so when it comes to popular music songs (short, containable, immediately accessible) and singers of the same. Judgments occur on sliding scales where the limits are comparatively close; thus your simple may be my naive. And I think it's clear that both of us would come up with different definitions of "haunting".

I was fairly careful with my dates to insist that my view of popular music (and there's a problem: would you agree that "pop" is something else) was far from panoramic. In fact when popular music became pop and interest in rock increased, I simply averted my ears. In the decades that followed certain bands, songs and singers managed to get through (eg, Simon and Garfunkel, Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, the Carpenters, the Pogues, Barbra Streisand, Pete Seegar, Crosby Still and Nash, Nina Simone) and it only takes a cursory glance to see how thin and how specialised my wedge of the pop scene was.

When I launched Tone Deaf it seemed, initially, pointless to include pop since I knew nothing about it. However I have tried my best by attempting to analyse recommendations from friends and family and providing some sort of reaction. But there are certain flaws in this ground zero approach. Because of my age, I suppose, I am not predisposed to the sentiments expressed in much of pop. The lyrics are frequently meant to appeal to the viscera rather than the brain (which leads to monotony). And I am frequently astonished by the lack of musical skills, particularly among drummers.

One solution occurs to me. When reviewing pop tracks perhaps I should drop LdP as a blogonym and replace it with OF (Old Fart).