By Jim CHASE
Once, when I was in not yet in my teens, I spent a precious dollar of my meager allowance to buy a 45 rpm record of the Beatles’ “She Loves You.” I lovingly carried it home from Grayson’s Tune Town like I had purchased the Holy Grail itself. I played that small vinyl platter over and over until the grooves were significantly less groovy, but by then I had memorized every word of lyric sung by Paul and John, every chord coming from George’s 12-string Rickenbacker, every beat played on Ringo’s black oyster pearl finish Ludwig drums.
As often happened when I was lost in the music and dreaming of future rock stardom, however, Dad would crash into my bedroom and definitively pronounce something on the order of, “Loudness is NOT goodness, Jim. Turn that garbage down!” With his tastes leaning well towards the soundtracks of musicals like South Pacific or Oklahoma, I knew I would never win any debate over what qualified as “good music.” I mean, for my Dad, being contemporary meant listening to the latest from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. (Although I will admit that as a young, healthy American male, I was a huge fan of their “Whipped Cream” album cover. Oh man, the hours wasted thinking about that photo shoot.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah. My dad’s closing statement to any musical debate was always, “I can promise you they won’t be singing those songs 20 years from now.”
My dear departed Dad’s voice was loud and clear in my head not too long ago while I was enjoying my near-daily dose of a venti non-fat quad latte at my favorite coffee house. On the in-house music station was a play list of all Beatles songs in honor of the launch of the latest version of the popular video game Rock Band, featuring the songs of The Beatles.
Sitting and sipping, I noticed that people standing in line waiting to order their drinks, or sitting at the shop’s many small tables – even the baristas behind the counter – were almost all singing along with each Beatles song that played over the speakers. It didn’t matter whether the person was young and tattooed, middle-aged or even one of the several seasoned seniors in store that morning – they all knew the songs and were smiling and bopping their heads in time with the music as they sang or hummed along. I couldn’t help but smile.
Yes, Dad, apparently the songs of my misspent youth hold up not only 20 years later, but 40. Now, I can’t say the same thing for “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” “Incense and Peppermints,” “I fought the Law,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Eve of Destruction” or “Itchycoo Park.” Then again, all I did was write their names here and now every one of those songs is stuck in my head. Dang.
At the risk of sounding snarky, every once in a while I sacrifice an hour of my weekend and watch Saturday Night Live to see if their writers have learned how to: 1. Be funny and 2. Write sketches with actual endings. I also often find it fascinating to see who or what the night’s musical guest might be. Last Saturday night, the writing for the most part was as lame and anemic as ever, and the show’s guest musicians were a duo named The Ting Tings. Or Tong Tongs? Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bangs? Whatever. With jaw on chest, I watched them perform their “hit” song, “Shut Up And Let Me Go.”
My first instinct was to yell at the TV, “Are you kidding?!? They’ll NEVER be singing that song 20 years from now!” But I didn’t. I just climbed back into my Yellow Submarine to see what was playing on the 8-track.
I’ll see you ‘round town.