Thursday, October 20, 2005

How Appropriate

--The Cardinals lose to the Astros and their season ends.
--The last game is played in Busch Stadium.
--It's rainy, cool and generally dreary today in St. Louis.

I was at Busch for the first baseball game in 1966.
I was at Busch for at least one game of each of the World Series' the Cardinals played there.
I was at Busch for the last Cardinal football game played there.
I broadcast high school football games there..
I did the p.a. announcing for one baseball game...(USA vs. Japan Olympic teams in 1992...I think)
I couldn't be at Busch for the last baseball game due to my duty at Blues hockey last night...but I was pretty close. (My last game was game one of the San Diego NLDS. Reggie Sanders grand slam. Cards win 7-5)

The old stadium being knocked down will be almost as emotional for me as the day I watched them blow up the old Arena. At least they'll do this one little by little and not all at once like the "Old Barn".

Isn't it strange how concrete, metal and various other building materials take on a personality when they are configured into a sports venue. They absorb and hold as many memories as we can muster just like a photo album. Then when the building goes away, we lose the context for those memories. Of course, the memories are still there...but a little more difficult to put in their place.

Good Bye old friend. We'll miss you.

It's a dreary day in St. Louis.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Music--Today vs.Yesterday

God...I can't believe I'm going to write what I'm about to write. It's going to make me sound exactly like my dad...and his dad...and his dad. But here I go anyway.

"You call that music? How in the world can you listen to that stuff? It's just a bunch of unintelligible noise"

It was said about the music of Scott Joplin, Benny Goodman, Bill Haley, Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Run DMC, and so on. Pick your era. I can almost still hear those words coming out of my dad's mouth...and Grandpa's. Isn't that how it goes? Today's music sounds like crap to most people over the age of 35. And so they complain about it and yearn for the "good ol' days" when music was music. I guess I might as well make my case and get it over with.

I'm thinking that what I'm looking for in music must just be different than what others (especially those significantly younger than me)look for. I'm looking for a melding of beat, melody and lyrics that tells a poetic story while pleasing your ear musically. It seems to me that most, not all, but most of today's hit music is going for "the hook"...a beat, melody and tag-line type lyric that is memorable..not a good poem or story set to music. Having a vocalist seems to be silly because you usually can't understand a thing that's being said/sung anyway.

Especially in Rock, Top 40, Rap and Hip Hop..(I'm not even sure of all the categories any more) tend to get mostly a beat, or a musical nuance that is memorable. Lyrics are far from the most important thing. In soft-rock and country you tend to get more of a poetic approach where the lyrics meld with the melody better...but it still seems to be more about what notes the performer can hit...or what kind of cutesy guitar riff...or synthesizer riff...can be dropped in to sell the song. The interpretation of the story...or lyrics...seems to have little, or no value. I'm obviously over-generalizing here, but it seems to me to be the way it is.

I heard an example of the singing aspect of this on the radio today. The remake of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" George Michael (live) with a guest shot from original performer Elton John. The instrumental part is a pretty true-to-the-original cover. Michael's performance, though, was all about stretching out the voice...doing little scale runs and variations on the original melody to call attention to his singing ability. He seemed disconnected from the lyrics. When Elton John came in halfway through the suddenly became about performing THE MATERIAL...not calling attention to himself. John's inflections and intonations were for the purpose of telling the story behind the lyrics. I could cite many more examples of this phenomenon, but this song,with the different generations performing, seemed to exhibit my thoughts well. Listen for what I'm talking about next time you hear it.

I guess that's my bottom line problem with most of today's performers. It seems to be all about ME and my cleverness....not the melody...the material...the story...the communication between performer and audience. I know the bottom "What will sell?" But, it seems there should be enough garage studios around that you could get some sincerity out of somone once in a while. Josh Groban can't be the only young person in the world with a great voice and a desire to communicate musically to someone other than kids can he? I'm sure, because of my age, I'm out of touch.