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. Then I’ll grapple with 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. It was created in 1964 for the Broadway musical “Funny Girl”. I’m not actually sure I qualify as the type of person in the song, 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. Maybe a year ago, Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall”lyrics, video from their 1979 rock opera “The Wall” held that spot. As a teacher, I could just imagine my whole class singing “We don’t need no education” in unison as I enter the room. 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”. Similar to the story of “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. This one, 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 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”video.
While the top spots on my list are fairly stable, as one goes down the list 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. (I heard this song before watching the 1967 film “The Graduate”, but the two together made an impression on me. 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.
I have also long been a sucker for Christmas music. I could enjoy these songs in June. Probably my earliest favorite, first sung the Christmas Eve of 1818 in Austria (I wasn’t actually around, then), was “Silent Night”video (surprise, surprise). That was unseated for a short time by “The First Noel”video. Now they both compete with a host of other examples of the genre (with “Joy To The World”video usually having a slight lead).
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.