October 10, 2014 by T. Gregory Argall
Music today blah blah blah.
You could rattle on endlessly about how modern music is manufactured rather than created, how the melodies have been reduced to droning percussion beats, how there is very little actual musicianship needed to be called a musician anymore, and especially how modern song lyrics don’t really have the heartfelt meaning and message that songs had just a couple of decades ago.
And you’d be right.
Think back to the songs of the sixties and seventies. That’s when musicians played musical instruments and they used notes and melodies and progressions.
And the lyrics… Oh, my gourd, the lyrics. The song lyrics had so much to say and were written from a very personal place, quite obviously by men.
Songs like “Georgy Girl” by The Seekers.
That’s a cheerful, bouncy, perky melody with loving, encouraging lyrics that have a sub-text that says, “You’ll never be happy until you change yourself completely to please a man. Oh, and stop dressing so ugly.”
This is a great example of a song that you instinctively sing along with, but I really don’t want my granddaughters being influenced by the message.
Obviously, not all songs of that era had that sort of hidden message. There were songs of love and passion without judgement. Songs like Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song.“
That’s an old-school hard-rocking, blues-inspired rock and roll song but all Zeppelin fans share a similar awkward memory. It’s a memory of that time as a teenager when you were listening to Zeppelin II and your dad (or worse, your mom) walked in just in time to hear Robert Plant imploring some anonymous woman to “squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg.”
There are only so many possible ways to interpret such a request and pretty much all of them resulted in an uncomfortable silence at the dinner table later that day.
Okay, let’s consider songs you could listen to with your parents without avoiding eye-contact. Songs like, say, “Delilah” by Tom Jones.
The whole family sways back and forth singing along with the chorus, “My, my, my Delilah…” and laughing and having a wonderful time…
…completely glazing over the part where Delilah is repeatedly stabbed with a knife until she stops laughing and dies.
Real family-friendly stuff, there, Mr. Jones.
Alright, what about that Johnny Cash song where he talks about how much he misses a woman that he would have married if not for one minor thing? “Delia’s Gone.” That’s gotta be a tender love song about loss and longing, right?
Listen to this…
Yeah, I’m gonna go listen to some mindless Top-40s drivel now. It’s probably safer.
Try to be nice to each other.