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Soggy Cake is not a Tragedy, Pussycat.

Well, I have to tell you guys, not being able to read my friends' list from work sucks. It's a big friends list, and I don't want to dump anyone off it, but that means that if I sit down at the computer at home, whoops - there's my evening gone. - And I'm working on a couple of very time-consuming new projects, soooo...

Let's just say that if there's anything you really need me to know, e-mail me. Otherwise, I'm trying to catch up when I have time. So, if you've noticed I'm not replying to anything, it's not because I don't care, it's because I'm afraid to sit down at my computer.

In happier news, I have a new project. And it will be gorgeous, I'm hoping. With spangles, and such. I'll update more when it's further along.

Otherwise, life is going apace, as it tends to do (where does the time go?!). I have a couple of humour posts brewing, but not quite beeping and spilling all over the counter (a reference to my traitor coffee-maker, which has an incontinence problem). But look for me to bitch about the phenomenon of "skinny jeans" sometime soon.

Bob and I have tickets to see Elton John and Billy Joel in concert this Saturday - the last time I went to a concert was almost 16 years ago, and it was Billy Joel (and Bob took me). That was the first non-classical concert I'd ever been to. I am happily planning to triple my concert experience in August, when we're seeing Paul McCartney.

Yes, I'm a pretty white-bread concert-goer, but as I've said before, this is the music of my people. Plus, they're both excellent musicians, and amazing pianists.

There are some musicians out there that get a whole load of mockery, but are actually really accomplished songwriters - Barry Manilow, for instance. Yes, I know, he's written some cheesy songs, but give his music a listen sometime - it's complex, layered, and very well written. He's also a hoot as a person - when they had him on American Idol a few seasons back, he was an absolute master at the deadpan snark over some of the contestants (Kelly Pickler in particular), and much funnier and less creepy to listen to and look at than some of the "special musical guests!!" they've had over the years. If I had to be forced to choose a Vegas performer (that wasn't Penn and Teller, whom I've also seen on stage, and briefly talked to Teller) to sit through, it would definitely be Manilow over, say Streisand or Celine Dion.

(They both have good voices, but they make my skin crawl for some reason I can't fully explain.)

(No, I really got nothing. I know Streisand is pure evil, but that's not the reason. I'm fairly pure evil myself, and you'd think like calls to like, y'know? But... no.)

In fact, a lot of the singers that are considered kinda cheesy now - as in, it's not cool to enjoy listening to them, or even to admit that you've heard their music, except in the most ironic way - are actually pretty talented, and I enjoy a lot of their music. Tom Jones, f'rinstance (though he has achieved a certain level of retro-cool). What's New, Pussycat? is subersively creepy, and you should definitely listen to it, not least because I suspect it's really a secret incantation to rouse ancient Gods from their evil slumber. I have a sneaking soft spot for McCartney during his Wings phase, and I fully admit to having a number of Gordon Lightfoot albums, and I even know the harmonies to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a song that has a very high listing in Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs.

However, even I cannot do anything but laugh every time MacArthur Park comes on the radio (which, okay, it did a lot more when I was a teenager, but I'm pretty sure you can get it on iTunes). Because even if someone left the cake out in the rain, it really doesn't take that long to bake a new one. Two hours, tops.

I also own the Rhino Records Golden Throats anthology album, which is a great party-stopper - it's even better when everyone's a bit drunk, because when William Shatner sings Mr. Tambourine Man, you can hear people's brain cells dying.

(It sounds a bit like Rice Krispies in milk - *snap*... *crackle*... *pop*.)

But I was writing about good artists, not ones that are so bad they're funny. Take the BeeGees. Everyone makes such amusing faces whenever they're mentioned (I assume in an attempt to convey in a single fleeting expression that not only do they think they're cheesy now, they absolutely did not listen to them when they were popular, and they definitely didn't own the Staying Alive soundtrack, nope, nuh-uh, no way), but the Bee Gees, like John Denver, were great songwriters. They weren't really disco - their music is pretty dark (don't laugh - have you looked at their lyrics?), they just got lumped with the disco era in people's minds because of Staying Alive. I don't care if you make all sorts of faces at me, Tragedy is an awesome song (and the BeeGees are still together, and still putting out albums, just like they were before disco).

Speaking of John Denver (yes, we mentioned him, don't pretend you've forgotten; I can read your mind)*, he's written some pretty good stuff too - yes, he had a slightly higher cheese-to-listenable ratio, but Perhaps Love is gorgeous, as is Annie's Song. Alas, both he and Gordon Lightfoot suffered from "folk singer lyric disease" at times, writing self-consciously consciousness-raising (I think I sprained my fingers writing that) words to beautiful tunes that took a couple of playings to realize quite how "socially responsible" (i.e., clumsy and obvious) the lyrics are (see: Calypso by John Denver and Circle of Steel by Gordon Lightfoot), but sometimes Denver really hit the mark, writing songs like The Eagle and the Hawk, which remains one of my favourites (and he had a little help writing those lyrics).

I think these artists get snorted at sometimes because people don't think of them as cool, and cool appears to be more important than talent when it comes to music. But they (and Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Janice Ian, and Suzanne Vega in case you're thinking I'm gender-biased in my musical tastes)** really did/do have a real talent for creating music.

And I will enjoy my concert-going without shame, thank you. Because I know who wrote the songs.

*You know those computer "cookies" web sites put on your computer? That's what they're for. No, really, I swear. I also know what colour underwear you're wearing.

**But I really loathe Joan Baez for some reason. Probably the same reason I can't stand Barbra Streisand, i.e., irrational dislike. Oh, and this song, which combines the worst of self-righteous eco-consciousness with really treacly music, though I really loved that song when I was a teenager.***

***Note:  I had no discernable taste as a teenager.  If Thomas Kinkaid had been around when I was a teenage artist, I'd have loved his stuff.  'Nuff sed. 


( 47 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Jul. 8th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)
I think you have become drunk on all this brain eating and have gone more insane than normal, my dear. Everyone knows that the height of awesome music was 1981-1985, long after those loathsome 70s that you're blithering about. Why, I just heard "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Ocean Rain" in a restaraunt last night.

I'm right. You're wrong. So there. Nyah! :P

Jul. 8th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
I love my bell-bottoms, and you can't stop me. :P
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jul. 8th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thornbury - Jul. 8th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jul. 8th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thornbury - Jul. 8th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jul. 8th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christianet - Jul. 8th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 8th, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
"Tragedy" is a great song. The Bee-Gee's are a good band, and after 40+ years, have been around almost as long as the Stones. (The stones have never really impressed me much.) And if you do a Google search for songs Barry has written... OMG. (Although he did write that obnoxious song "Islands in the Stream" that Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers covered. One fluke in an otherwise stellar career. that song is like a dentist drill form me.) :-)
My favorite Gordon Lightfoot song is "Sundown". Awesome in a pseudo-stalker kind of way.
"Shadow Dancing" sung by Andy Gibb is pretty good, too.
Babs and Celine make me twitch. I think it might be because they sing like they KNOW they're on-stage... Sort of a self-aware "Hey, I'm SINGING here" quality to them. Most of the singers I really like are the ones that seem more organic... Like you just stopped and happened upon them singing for themselves. Not that they don't have nice voices... Just nothing I want to listen to. (But what do I know? I prefer male singers for some reason most of the time anyway. I think it's the bass rumble in the voice I like better.)
Jul. 9th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I must put in a good word for Gordon Lightfoot, as evil_fionn already knows: the song "Sundown" gets my husband laid more times than is worth counting! What can I say, I'm a cheap date!

I will be completely honest and quite cheddar-ish here and freely admit to absolutely loving John Denver back in the day! My only regret is that I never saw him in concert. I will also confess to being a raging James Taylor fan--this from a gal who usually likes her rock metallic or gothic!
Jul. 8th, 2009 11:25 am (UTC)
I love, love, love 70's music. Pop, disco, ALL of it. We have a set of CDs called "Have a Nice Day" that have all that great stuff on it. Including one of MY all time favorites, The Cover of the Rolling Stone.

Paul McCartney puts on an amazing show, and you will be very happy you went. OTOH, I am insanely jealous that you will be seeing Elton John and Billy Joel together. I would give my eye teeth to see that one.

My first concert experiences were the Osmonds and Gilbert O'Sullivan.
Jul. 8th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
Al Stewart. You missed Al Stewart, the thinking nerds' musician ;) Roads To Moscow can still give me chills.

Edited at 2009-07-08 12:01 pm (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
Totally with you on Gordon Lightfoot--I really like most of his stuff. And I didn't/don't hate most of the others you mentioned either. As a child of the 70s with a husband who hates standard radio, my popular-music recognition mostly stopped in 1985 or thereabouts, and the 70s are indeed the music of my people. Though I don't and never did like disco, except to dance to.
Jul. 8th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
And strangely enough Tom Jones is playing on my iPod at this very moment.
I had no musical development as a teenager, no radio, too far back in the woods to get a decent signal so all my music exposure has happened since college. So I'll throw out one you didn't mention... James Taylor. Just his name makes 90% of the people cringe, but his lyrics and melodies (as long as you make it past "gone to Carolina") are very listenable.
Jul. 8th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
"Fire and Rain" is a beautiful song.
One of my favorites, even after it was covered by Badlands. I like both versions.
Jul. 8th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
James Taylor! I adore the Bee-Gees and Barru Manilow, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Although I may have to disown you for the Thomas Kincaid comment.
Jul. 8th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
Odd as this may sound, Ray Stevens (yes, he of "The Streak" fame) deserves a mention for his level of musicianship.
"Everything Is Beautiful" is his work, composed in something like forty-five minutes to fill out an album about to be recorded, the story goes, and that song has enjoyed virtually indestructible popularity from the time it was first played on the air.
If you *listen* to the music under the goofy lyrics, you find sound writing and orchestration. That he can perform so many *styles* so convincingly (tell me the first time you heard "Surfin' U.S.S.R" if it wasn't at a live concert, you didn't think for an instant that somehow the Beach Boys had crept into the act) is just a testament to his versatility as a performer.
Come to think of it, he's had a fairly long career, too....
Jul. 8th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Another Two Cents
Oh. Maricelt's comment got me to thinking.
One common thread in all these artists' music is not just listenability, but singability, which makes them listen-able. Leonard Bernstein once remarked that each of the great composers had a particular trait or characteristic to his genius, and Beethoven's was that he always knew exactly what note should come next.
Sounds simplistic, doesn't it?
But all this Seventies and even Eighties stuff we're applauding here has *melody.* Even without lyrics, the music itself has a poetry to it that makes it easy to receive it and hold on to it.

Jul. 8th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
First album I ever owned was Billy Joel's Glass Houses. I started collecting his older stuff. I still have my records kicking around. No record player though. As an aside the second album I ever owned was Ratt Out of the Cellar. Sigh. I was such a geek.
Jul. 8th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
Needless to say, my iPod is rife with all of these artists, and I really love Billy Joel, so I hope that's a good concert for you! I do seldom discuss music with anyone, because it's widely held that I have no taste in it and detest hip hop and basically quit popular music during the Britney Spears era. I think I've lost friends over the ABBA on my playlist. Then again, my friends don't generally engage me in literary pissing contests, either.
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
*jealous!* Sounds like two fabulous concerts! My musical tastes have expanded a -lot- since marrying a musician. 10 years ago I would never give some of these soft artists a chance (having been raised that the only proper music to come out of the 70s were groups like Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull by my hard-rocking father) but now I can without shame admit that there is at least one Carpenters song on my ipod, and a Perry Commo too! *gasp!*

That and I now know the difference between Slovenian, German, Polish and Alpine Polka styles. (Did you know there is a separate Cleveland-Style Slovenian Polka? How I lived so long without this knowledge... heh... okay, it's not -all- been good. ;))
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
There is a way cool orange Victorian-esq house I saw on a vacation in Carmel. It turned out it was a Thomas Kincaid gallery. The house was so stunning, it made me almost like him (though we didn't go in). Though I'm still afraid to visit my sister, whose dining room is "done" in Kincaid.
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
I would guess that the gallery was done up by the gallery owner, not Kincaid himself. :) Appreciate the taste of the owner.

I've disliked Kincaide since he started churning out knock-offs of his own, better earlier work - and since I discovered that he has some somewhat ...questionable practices regarding how his work is "sold" to religious shops. I'll have to dig up that link...
(no subject) - snailstichr - Jul. 8th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Hey, Ursus sang "Poems, Prayers and Promises" at the bardic last Friday night...
Jul. 8th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Streisand and Dion, it' because they're both actually lizards.

And I love John Denver. There. I said it. I think Whispering Jesse is my favourite of his.
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