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.