It’s the (Stupid) Culture, Stupid

*sigh* It’s just one more thing in a long, long list of dirty laundry issuing from an increasingly dumbed down popular culture, but it’s one of those things that irk me even more than people who have apparently been jamming a fork behind their eyeballs and stirring long enough to miss the first R in FebRuary. *sigh*

Whadafug you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

OK, I’ll just let that one slide and answer the question anyway.

This A.M. I woke hearing a children’s song–well, almost always sung as a children’s song–in my mind’s ear. A real earworm the thing is. Anywho, After a couple of hours, I thought, “Hmm, Self, I wonder if folks have posted any YouTube videos of this song?” So, in answer to my question to Self, I did what any moderately curious person asking such a question of Self might do and input a lil searcherooo.

Yep. Lots of folks have posted videos of the song, and of the first page of searches returned EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM RENDERS THE TUNE DIFFERENTLY AND ALL OF THEM WRONG. “Why,” I asked Myself, “would these people who can play guitar or piano (well, keyboard) get the tune wrong–sometimes by one note in a phrase, sometimes by several?”

They’re illiterate. The song isn’t some folk song but has an actual composer and actual written music and lyrics still under copyright. Sure, anyone can get a mechanical license to produce a version of the song, but any even semi-musically-literate person should AT LEAST be able to GET THE NOTES RIGHT–at least ONCE!

Searching instead for the first recording of the song–by Peggy Lee of all folks!–yields someone who WAS musically literate actually singing the notes that Arthur Hamilton wrote:

Any moderately musically literate person will hear many, many examples of performers (I refuse to call them “artists”) rendering otherwise well-known tunes wrong–usually in ways that limit the range of notes, narrowing the tune to eliminate intervals that either the singer or his audience can’t discern.

Yeh, yeh, it’s just a kids’ song, and most of the other music butchered by pop ears and performances is just pop fluff, but it’s also another area where our culture is getting dumber and dumber.

Think about two common meanings of “dumb” there. When the culture becomes UNABLE to express certain things because it’s both dimmer-witted–lacking the wit to express something–and “mute” as it were, lacking the actual means of expressing a thing, then that area of the culture is drifting into a “dark age” where not onl;y does it not know how to do something but it is losing the memory of once being able to do a thing.

And it’s not just music that this applies to in our culture, folks. A widespread Dark Age coming. . . maybe.

2 Replies to “It’s the (Stupid) Culture, Stupid”

  1. I am reminded of a chart I saw last year showing the melodic reduction over time. (I can’t remember where I saw it now) The music of old presented many levels of tone and contrast which have been reduced over time. The biggest change was in the ’60’s with the advent of a particular quartet. The instruments were guitars, and drum. I have listened to songs more critically since then and agree with the difference. I Love Lucy had an entire band to accompany their songs. Modern “music” has a series of chords strummed or beat on the guitar or keyboard and someone speaking lyrics or in a rare case singing a melody above the noise. The musical depth is lost. Part of it may be due to money. I can only imagine what it cost Lucy and Ricky to pay that entire band. No matter the reason, the result remains a diminished musical depth.

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