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Monday: January 16, 2006

Catching Up On My Listening

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:18 PM UTC

With the help of the U.N.C. library and a helpful student, I’ve been catching up on (a) music I haven’t listened to in years decades, and (b) music I’ve never gotten around to checking out. Brief verdicts so far:

Category A:

  • The Beatles: Since selling off the records many years ago I hadn’t missed much. The early, unpretentious stuff is not bad, but what was all the fuss about? Their best stuff seems roughly as good as Buck Owens, and he’s a lot more consistently good.
  • John Lennon: Ditto, only more so. Ho hum.
  • Yoko Ono: Not as bad as I had remembered, which isn’t saying much. To put it another way, I probably have worse things on my iTunes, though I can’t think what. On the other hand, when one of her tunes comes up in shuffle play, I don’t immediately recognize it as trash: it’s more a gradual dawning of comprehension that this (oh no!) must be Yoko.

Category B:

  • The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds. Everyone says this is such a great album, and I rather like the relatively few BB tunes that I couldn’t avoid hearing over the years, but this album? A total bore.
  • Ella Fitzgerald: Wow! Why hadn’t I gotten around to checking her out (in more ways than one) before? I’m just annoyed that U.N.C. only gave me disc 1 of Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook, so I have to go back and get disc 2 — assuming they even have it.
  • Frank Sinatra: I thought I hadn’t really heard anything by him except “New York, New York”, which is annoying and annoyingly ubiquitous, but one tune on Frank Sinatra Sings the Select Sammy Cahn was totally familiar: the theme for Married with Children. Somehow I hadn’t connected that performance with anyone famous or talented. Despite my aversion to anything that could conceivably be classified as ‘Easy Listening’, I’m finding all three Sinatra albums (the other two are Songs for Young Lovers and Swing Easy, combined on one CD) worth hearing and even rehearing. Am I turning into an old fart, or just showing my good taste?

Having now gone through Terry Teachout’s recommendations in his four-part article “The Great American Songbook” (Commentary, February-May 2002), I was disappointed to find that U.N.C. has no only four or five of the fifty albums named, and only one or two can be checked out. Oh well, I guess I need to get a full-time job and buy them myself.

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