Monday, February 11, 2008



I was out for my typical early morning walk with the dog this morning when the 5:30 news update reported the results of last night’s Grammy Awards, which I hope I have spelled correctly. That such awards find their way into the “news” at all is further grist for the “our country is going to hell in hand basket” mindset that permeates this blog, but I got to thinking more broadly about what this year’s Grammy Awards say about our society.

It looks as though we have gone, from, say, “That Old Black Magic,” written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer and performed, as was much of the popular music of the day, by many artists, but that is most identified with Louis Prima and Keely Smith and, to a lesser extent, Sammy Davis, Jr.:

“You’re the lover I have waited for, you’re the mate that fate had me created for..”

and, say, “The Way You Look Tonight” written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields and, though done, as was the custom, by many artists, is clearly identified with Frank Sinatra:

“Some day, when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight.”

and, say, just a touch more highbrow, “Fanfare for the Common Man,” written by Aaron Copland in 1942, and so good it needed no words, to the ear punishing cacophony of a woman who is actually in rehab protesting that she doesn’t want to go to rehab. This is what constitutes music, indeed, according to the Grammarians (which I guess is what you call these deep thinkers) the Record of the Year or Song of the Year, 2007, or maybe it’s 2008.


No grounds for needless pessimism here. Why, everything is just coming up roses for our nation if only we approach things with optimism, if only we look to a bright future, if only we think good thoughts, nice thoughts, positive thoughts.

I am assuming (hoping, really…if I am wrong here, things are worse than even I thought) that the aural distortion that won the Grammy is what passes for ironic humor nowadays. Also, some alert readers will point out that the annoying screecher who won the award for that convincing imitation of felines in the throes of sexual ecstacy is not American at all, but is British. To that I would respond that the Grammys (Grammies?) are American awards, and perhaps Britain is joining us in our voyage over the falls.

Culture is a reflection of the society that, for lack of a better verb, creates it (though, in this case, "excretes" would be better verb). Thus, what passes for culture in this country, the sludge and the sewage with which we are contaminating the world (No wonder they hate us.) provides more justification for the realism, that only looks like pessimism and cynicism, with which any thinking and concerned American must approach his or her country as it undulates in its final death throes.

1 comment:

Paraic1 said...

Mark, I think that we are well over the edge of the falls. Whether our British cousins recognize the height from which we have fallen is anybody's guess. Those of us with a late medieval mentality are still lamenting the death of Wm. Byrde and Thomas Tallis. Even Sinatra and Keeley Smith are too modern for our taste.