Saturday, January 20, 2007

givin' 'em what for

Yes, I did it. Walking away from Big Brother after turning the radio on I heard him ask, "What's this?" I answered without looking back or even stopping, "A song."

I was in the kitchen doing something mildly dish related though I'm actually leaving the mess for later. The radio in the kitchen is permanently set to NPR. If I could get the college station in the kitchen I'd probably go back and forth between the two, but alas such is not to be mine. Bolero was playing and I'd gone to the living room to turn the song on which was why he asked about it. I did come back moments later, after getting the beer I was after, to inform him what he was hearing. I really only turned it on at all because it was at the end of the song, the final build up that can really be too loud if you messed too much with the volume during the early part of the song. My original intent was just to annoy the boys with loud music.

Listening to Bolero got me thinking though. I'm not a huge classical music kind of guy. I know a few songs that I like, most of the instruments, a couple of composers. I am quite familiar with poor Maurice Ravel's classic. I think it's almost like God Save the Queen at this point, a song that so many people hear and feel they know. "Ooh wow, they're playing this song. I've heard this," said the random person who isn't really even a fan. I certainly couldn't tell you off the top of my head what else Ravel may have composed, though I'm certain I've heard something.

Do real fans of classical music roll their eyes when they hear Bolero? Do they shudder a little with a bit of, "Egad, this old mare being trotted out again?" Do they mutter a snide little something at the DJ who dared play that song? Because I almost get a little of that when I hear the Sex Pistols screeching their old saw, but now it makes me wonder if it was Pepsi or Cadillac that got the rights until I realize that it's NOT a commercial.

I remember the first time I heard God Save the Queen, or something like it. It wasn't the first time I'd heard punk, so it wasn't that particular birth-of-new-world moment, but to me at the time it still had a little rawness left. I'm sure that by this time the still living Sex Pistols were certainly alive but not yet ready to regroup and tour and sing the exact same songs yet again, though time will bring all bands back together for a reunion should death stay her cold, cold hand.

Bolero left a similar impression when I first heard it. I wasn't then a fan of the punk or classical and was more likely to listen to (be forced to hear) gospel (the white people kind) or similarly religious music. Of course it's a much older song, but the limitlessness of the orchestra that it lays out, that plodding building of instruments building up to that final blare of, "Godalmighty fuck are they going off!" You can almost see the conductor, hair in a frenzy, shirt front rolled up like in an old cartoon.

So that's my story. I like to give the kids a little lip once in a while. They don't attend school where they'd get mouthed off to, so I give them a little shit now and again so they don't miss the experience. It was actually kind of funny.

"What's this?"

"A song."

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