One song I didn’t mention in my recent post on my favorite songs was this song by Tina Turnerlyrics, video. The omission was deliberate; this is one of those songs that rise and fall on the chart as my mood and situation change, and since, as I’ve hinted, it’s not a topic I’m any good at, a rise in the chart usually signals less-than-fair weather. Well, this song has again risen to the Number 1 spot and is expected to get a lot of play over the next several weeks. Ordinarily this would be none of your business, except that it could have even a long-term impact on this blog (or could possibly blow over in a relatively short period of time). We’ll see. Get back to work!
We have a lighter topic today – music. I’ve recently made changes in my list of favorite songs, so I’ll talk about some of them, and then try to find an explanation for a pattern I’ve noticed as people get older.
- Holding my number one spot for decades now has been Barbra Streisand’s version of “People”lyrics, video, created in 1964 for the Broadway musical “Funny Girl”. I’m not actually sure I qualify as the type of person in the song (I may have come from a long line of rugged individuals living in a Love desert) but when I see those people together, I feel what could be envy.
- Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now”lyrics, video, which she recorded on her 1969 album “Clouds”, just moved up the charts to the number two spot that was vacated maybe a year ago by Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”lyrics, video from their 1979 rock opera “The Wall”. As a teacher, I could just imagine my whole class singing “We don’t need no education” in unison and it just struck me as a bit funny. Since that song became the Republican’s unofficial theme song, I find it more depressing than funny.
I’ve always liked “Both Sides, Now”, and similar to the story about “The Blind Men and the Elephant”, it shows how a change in perspective can enrich your life – or not.
- Next is “Climb Every Mountain”lyrics, video, which Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for their 1959 musical “The Sound of Music”. I’m partial to the version that was dubbed by Margery MacKay in the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews. Actually, I liked the whole movie, especially the songs Julie sang, like the title songvideo and even the song that inspired the title of this post, “My Favorite Things”video.
- Although the beat goes on, today’s last list entry is number four, “Hotel California”lyrics, video which, unlike the others, shot toward the top of my chart immediately after it was released as the title track from an Eagles’ album in late 1976 (even though by then I had already left of the state). I really enjoy the symbolism, and like many, recognize it as an allegory about hedonism and greed. Other great songs on that album include “New Kid In Town”video and “Life In The Fast Lane”audio.
While the top spots on my list are fairly stable, as one goes down the list, that becomes less true as a song’s ranking starts to depend more on my mood. Looking down the list, you will see newer songs from artists like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga working their way up, as well as other classics like “The Sound of Silence”video by (Paul) Simon & (Art) Garfunkel (which I had heard before watching the 1967 film “The Graduate”, but the two together made an impression on me and that song remained near the top of my list for quite a while). My favorite country singers are probably Kenny Rogers (my favorites being “The Gambler”video and “Coward of the County”video) and then Garth Brooks. I prefer my classical music to be lively, like Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”full, finale, which some of you may remember from “The Lone Ranger”, and “1812 Overture”full, finale.
As a youngster, I noticed that people of all ages seem to restrict their musical listening to those songs that were popular when they were in their teens. At the time, I postulated that once the music retention area of the brain ‘hardens’, about the time one reaches adulthood, it is impossible to retain or appreciate new songs. Now that I’ve seen this phenomenon “from both sides now”, I’ve reworked my theory. For me, one change that has occurred over the years is that I just don’t (have the opportunity to?) listen to as much music as I used to. When I’m wrapped in thought, I prefer the sounds of silence. And when I am around others, they rely on their old favorite, but limited sources. This ties in with my earlier discussions How Large Is Your Universe and How We Lose Our Grip On Reality, and could be considered a sign of decay. But it doesn’t have to happen. If one were to diversify their sources, as suggested, they would know that there is very good music being produced every day, just as it was when they were young. But then they would have to find something else to complain about.
I like the definition of communication given by www.businessdictionary.com that talks about a process of reaching mutual understanding, where participants not only exchange information but also create and share meaning. This is a process that obviously takes more than one person. That point was apparently lost on me as a child. At that time, there were quite a few of my fellow (North) Americans that spoke Spanish in Southern California, and yet when it came time to choose a language to study in school, as required, and having a choice of Spanish, French, German, and possibly Italian and Japanese, I picked German because I wanted to be different. I studied the language for six years and like to think I was decent at it, but then again, there were no Germans (to speak of) around to contradict me. Many years have gone by and I can still count past twelve, but some might argue that I didn’t get the most bang for my educational buck. Now I am surrounded by people in Southern Florida, some who have been visiting for over fifty years, who still have trouble with English and don’t understand why everybody here doesn’t just speak Spanish. But I am not the only one who has struggled with the concept.
Several weeks ago I saw a gentleman walking down the street wearing a T-shirt with the following sign:
While driving down the road ages ago, a Jeep passed me that had the following array of small international maritime signal flags displayed on its back window: Each of these flags, which are used by navies and merchant marines around the world, has a name taken from the phonetic alphabet. Along the top row is Foxtrot, Uniform, Charlie, and Kilo. On the second row sits Yankee, Oscar, and Uniform again. Individually, each flag has a meaning (for example, Oscar means someone has fallen overboard), or in small groups they could represent short code words. Sometimes they just represent the letter at the beginning of their name.
On a recent trip to Africa I learned that males of apex predator species share certain characteristics. For example, our local guide explained that a male lion’s roar can be heard at least five miles away and is used to communicate their ownership of a territory.
A visitor to Africa will also learn not expect the same level of amenities to which they have become accustomed in most of Europe and America. I’ve seen many foods (i.e. English muffins & hamburgers), and even musical instruments (like the violin and guitar) that bore only a basic resemblance to their same-named counterparts elsewhere. Even toilets tend to be much simpler than one might be used to, sometimes being no more than a porcelain-lined hole in the ground. At one stop a friend pointed out what was labeled a urinal, but had no fixture at all. The sign was outside the entrance of a small “room” consisting of four concrete walls extending slightly more than waist high around the perimeter of a rectangular concrete floor. The narrow entrance had no door and there was no roof or any structure extending above the top of the walls. The completely flat floor was sloped slightly with a small drain hole in the lowest corner. This must have been the epitomeD of minimalist architecture.
What that room did very well was act as a resonating chamber and amplify all sounds emitted fairly close to the ground. And then the real purpose of the structure hit me. I could envision that when a man passes gas in this facility, the roar can be heard for miles around, and other men will pause and listen admiringly and with respect, and one young man will invariably say to another “Now THERE is an asshole”.
I do have a number of weightier matters I’d like to discuss, but my day job has been keeping me pretty busy. Nonetheless, one should be able to find new material here within the week.