Video killed a lot more than just the radio star.
I often (okay, almost always) feel out of place with the world I inhabit. And only a little bit of that has to do with the Jelly Jars experience. Mostly it’s more cultural. Film, literature, even this whole online community, while I love all of you dearly, and hope no one takes this personally. . . It doesn’t work for me. I find the interaction weird and foreign and uncomfortable, at best.
I can’t explain it all, I know I never will. Because it does fall into the category of “inexplicable”. But two things, maybe to give you the general idea.
As I was writing that bit about online interaction, I found the contrast to hopefully help elucidate. The past few days, I have spent a lot of time with three generations of strong and beautiful women. My very best friend, who lives too many miles away; her mother, whom I am friends with now and see independently; and my friend’s lovely daughters, ages five-going-on-fifteen, and three-bursting-headlong-towards-whatever-awaits.
We sat out on the back porch and watched the little ones play in the kiddie pool and water the flowers and make “bird soup” (which, don’t worry, it was food made for the birds, not from the birds). We hung out in the water at the real pool (I’ve got very visible tan lines and who the hell cares, something will age me, something will kill me, all things in moderation). But mostly, it was the sitting and talking – out on the porch, in the pool, and in the house. There was even a brief shopping occasion. We were three women (plus two in the making) hanging out in the kitchen, talking decorating and cooking and marriage and children. Such a cliché, right? As modern, liberated women, we’re supposed to have moved on and want so much more. So many higher aspirations.
Higher than mother, wife, grandmother, dear friend. . .
I don’t want marriage or children for myself. But how can someone ever think that something better, something beyond, something more important than loving and sharing and raising up strong, intelligent, beautiful, wonderful new women exists? Let me tell you. It doesn’t.
Holding out for something less,
Than touching the hand of God. . .*
I don’t belong online. I belong in a tight-knit small town community of maybe the early 1920s. I’m not sure. And yes, I would be strange and shunned by some because I am different. But most people, the good ones, would welcome me to come sit and have lemonade and talk and care for their children.
I can’t sum that one up neatly. Really this post started with a song.
Because that’s the other thing I may be able to explain. Music.
This seemed so straightforward in my head. God. Okay.
Musically speaking, technically I was a child of the ’80s. The Police, De Do Do Do, De Da Da, Da was my first real love musically. Not to discount Barbie and the Rockers, but that was merely a fling. The Police were a serious, long-standing love affair for me.
But nothing really sunk into my soul until the ’90s. And no, it was not the music of the ’90s. Not at first, anyway. In the ’90s, anachronistically enough, I found the ’50s and the ’60s.
I have mentioned here and there that my father is a musician by calling. Brilliantly gifted – really, it isn’t just a daughterly bias. He and I would sit on our back deck Sunday evenings, just us two, and listen to a local radio program called “Doo Wop Sunday Nights” (or something like that). Though I was heavily into the Violent Femmes at the time (holy fuck is that hot, sexy, intense music – my first all ages show), when I did listen to the radio (which was often), I always listened to the oldies.
So I had some background. A bit of it. But he and I would play a game. And a song would come on, and I would guess who the artist was. The Drifters, The Platters, Ben E. King, Sam Cooke. . . And the lesser knowns. J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers – Last Kiss. . . That one just broke me to pieces every time.
Anyway. I had this positively preternatural ability to name the artist damn near every song. I was intrigued, as many of their names just popped to my lips from places completely unknown to me. My father didn’t make a huge deal, he loved it, of course, but I think there was kind of a layer of amazement there, too. Like, ‘Where in the world is she getting this from?’
Perhaps from you, dearest Daddy. Because I honestly have no explanation other than some weird ancestral memory thing he transmitted to me in the X chromosome he provided for my beginning. Yes, some of it I absorbed growing up, but there was so much more.
I moved on to later ’60s and ’70s. I dove in and established a well-loved collection. The Association, Simon and Garfunkel, CSNY, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Cat Stevens, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Animals, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Beatles, The Doors, Van Morrison, The Who. . . And on and on and on.
And while I was wading through the music of the late ’90s and early 2000s (some of which was very, very good), I was going even further back, before my father’s time, to the Big Band era. Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Artie Shaw, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Guy Lombardo, The Andrews Sisters. . . And on and on and on (again).
Okay, so what? Most everyone discovers, and often loves, music that existed before them. I mean, how could you not love Tchaikovsky? I love Swan Lake so dearly it used to sing me to sleep every night. But.
It’s a difference between loving and appreciating it versus feeling it deeply embedded inside the fiber of your soul. That is the music I belong to, be it under the boardwalk or up on the roof. Either way. I don’t have that kind of connection with pretty much anything after the mid ’70s. There are exceptions, of course. Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence knocks me flat every time (as does pretty much anything that includes Bruce Hornsby).
I am an anachronism. I feel like a very permutated Billy Pilgrim. I haven’t come unstuck in time. Rather I exist spread out, in times before my own. I cannot tell you the last new album I bought (that’s another topic for another time – artists who make albums for the sake of the whole album, and how if you download or listen just to a track or two, you are missing so much more than the point) – oh wait, yes I can. It was Don Henley. To replace my cassette (yes, tape) that I couldn’t find.
There’s so much more. I don’t feel I came across in the way that I wanted. Post-migraine (lull in the migraine, more likely) words are very often befuddled, and points get lost in the process. Mislaid. But you pretty much had me at Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.
This song just triggered all this in me, because as much as I grew up in the MTV generation (y’know, back when they really did just play videos all day – it isn’t a myth, I do remember that time, as short-lived as it was), I can’t watch videos. I hate them. Live performances are great, but to me a song is such an incredibly intimate thing. I want my own strong feelings and associations, not someone else’s concept (with the exception of Lex Halaby’s beautiful and absolutely perfect vision for Train’s Marry Me, that one was so spot-on – and Mr. Halaby is an amazingly nice guy, we exchanged an email or two about that video and he was such a sweetheart).
Fuck. Way off track.
So to close, here is the song behind the post. Which if you didn’t know straightaway, at the first sentence, well now you will (even though there is so much more to say still about how disco killed the live music scene. . . some other time).
I heard you on the wireless back in ’52. . .
(This song and video are solely the property of their respective owners and artists. Absolutely no copyright infringement is intended.)
By the way, Angel, I never answered one of your tags – one of three or four I probably never will, but one question especially stuck with me, because for me it was so simple that I laughed, and I know it’s somewhat generational, but. . .
7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?
I turn on the radio, of course. ;)
* lyrics by Kevin Griffin and Better Than Ezra, Closer
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