Excellent Listeners, you did not let me down: I asked for ideas on what to say, and I was rewarded with a veritable bombardment of majestic suggestions, from the perils of wearing high heels to work, to being a superhero, to bees and calligraphy. A superb spectrum of proposals, I’m sure you’ll agree.
And then the excellent Pieter suggested I say things about music. And that’s what I’m going to do, right this second.
I was brought up on a musical diet of Beethoven, Mozart, Elgar, Chopin, Handel, and all the other excellent dead old dudes; but, like heroin or watching your friends fail, I had to pretend I didn’t enjoy it.
You see, classical music was not cool. Whilst my school chums were singing Take That or Boyzone, or arguing over what the hell Michael Jackson was actually saying in anything he ever wrote, I was quietly listening to The Nutcracker on my Sony Walkman.
This was not cool.
But as I got older, and being cool became less important, I gave in to the wondrous absorbing brilliance of an orchestra bashing their way through the 1812 Overture, or gently sighing through The Lark Ascending, or snapping their strings with the sheer heartbreak of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, or being deliciously creepy in The Rite of Spring – and what’s more, I realised that classical music was cooler than Colin Cool the Penguin cooling himself down with a chilled beverage on an iceberg in the middle of a particularly cold Antarctic winter.
Because what’s not to love about a genre of music that not only allows but expects you to poke out the eyes of everyone near you with a Union Jack and belt out EXCELLENTLY LOUD AND GLORIOUS WORDS THAT NO ONE CAN EVER REMEMBER BUT IT’S OKAY BECAUSE WE’VE GOT A HANDY SONG SHEET, revel in a bit of pomp and circumstance and gradually get LOUDER AND SLOOWWEERRR
There’s a lot of enjoyment to be gained from some swishy synthesized strings with a mellow beat and the occasional stoned guitar player having a casual twiddle. I do most of my writing to chillout music, on account of its ….. laid back…. non-offensiveness…. and …… atmospheric…. ammmbbiiieeeennncceeee…
But chillout music doesn’t always chill me out. Occasionally, after I’ve trawled YouTube for playlists with ambitious and grammatically-indifferent titles like ‘Chillout Euphoric Relaxation Beach Sunset’ or ‘Ambient Solar Liquid Grooves’ or ‘Atmospheric Relaxing Peaceful oh my gosh you are going to be so relaxed you will lose control over your colon’, and settled down to do some writing, I shall have the holy Moses scared out of me by sudden incredibly loud whispering bursting forth from the music and telling me to do things like ‘EMBRACCCCE YOUR SOUL AND BREEEEEEATHE’ or offering useful information such as ‘A NEW DAWN IS RISING’ and ‘THE QUEST FOR HAPPINESSS BEGINSS IN YOUR HEEAARRRT’.
This is not relaxing. This is terrifying and ………. infuuuuuriaaaating.
So while I was desperately trying to listen to Mozart’s Requiem on my Sony Walkman at school, I was also desperately trying to understand what the bloody hell garage music was all about. As far as I was concerned, the genre consisted of flippy beats that sounded like a load of mice in tap shoes scuttling down a gutter, accompanied by random bleeps, quite often an incongruous guitar, and a singer that took their time over most of the lyrics but then suddenlystartedsingingreallyquickly
and then they’ll relax and calm down and continue singing normally like nothing ever happened and they didn’t just have the musical equivalent of an epileptic fit.
But now, at the ripe old age of 29, guess what? The music I once sneered and jeered at has been painted with the brush at which you can neither sneer nor jeer: the nostalgia brush. Yes, Craig David, the Artful Dodger, So Solid Crew, can all propel me back to my school days (sorry, ‘skool dayz’, to quote my garage homies), and I’ll happily admit that I can get misty-eyed over Shanks and Bigfoot. Why? Because Sweet Like Chocolate is a choon.
Ohhhhhhh smoooooooooooooooothhhh jaaaaaaaaaaaazzz. You make me want to have sex with myself. You make me want to drink melted chocolate. You make me want to lie naked in a night-time field and smother myself with dew. You make me want to don a red dress covered in sparkles, smoke through a cigarette holder and drape myself over an old man in dark glasses. You make me want to drink gin cocktails in a bath of Chanel.
There are few things more delicious than a saxophone slinking and oozing its way over a double bass and a piano. As a teenager, I would spend my hard-earned cash in HMV on jazz CDs, from Nina Simone, to Louis Armstrong, to Easy Listening ‘Smooth Jazz’ and ‘Midnight Jazz’ and ‘Smooth Jazz at Midnight’ and ‘Jazzy Midnight Smoothy Smooth’, and I would play them on loops in my bedroom and lie on my desk and pretend I was a lounge singer on a piano in a New York basement jazz club (I’ve said too much).
Jazz made me gutsy. Jazz made me sassy. Jazz gave me the confidence to wear my zebra skin coat to school on mufti days. Jazz inspired me to adorn myself with all the jewellery I owned at every available occasion, and strut through my teens looking like the love child of Barbara Cartland and Judy Garland when she went all crazy and drug-addled. And for that, I thank you, Jazz. You smooth, sexy, naughty beast.
Have no fear, sweet, patient Listener. I have saved the best for last.
Along with food, drink, shelter, and oxygen, musicals are an integral part of staying alive. What would happen, dearest Listener, if, whilst alone in your bedroom of a Monday night, with only the howling wind outside for company, you were not able to break into a spontaneous rendition of Food, Glorious Food or Oklahoma! or Big Spender? What would happen if, on a night in with the girls, you were not able to shriek ‘LET’S SING MUSICALS!!!’ and spend the next four hours delighting your neighbours with songs from The Sound of Music, or Singin’ in the Rain or Sister Act (1 or 2, I don’t mind – they are equally monumental)?
I’ll tell you what would happen. This would happen:
Wouldn’t it be loverly to dance all night to your favourite things? Oh, what a beautiful morning it would be to consider yourself over the rainbow with a spoonful of sugar, to climb every mountain on some enchanted evening, to forget your hard knock life and give them the old razzle dazzle, because you’re going to live forever as long as you remember that anything goes and there’s no business like sitting alone in your bedroom and belting out a show tune.
And if I haven’t made you want to have dinner with your homie Debussy whilst chilling out to some funky ass beats in a smoky candle-lit basement following a matinee performance of Showboat, then I just don’t understand who you are.
55 thoughts on “Becky says things about … music”
Amaze balls. I was only the other day suggesting to a friend that it was time for a musical interpretation of orwells 1984. Bring it. Ps i think classical Music may be cooler than Hanson? Mmmmmm bop.
MmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmI totally agree with you bop.
And a musical interpretation of 1984? That may just about be the best idea ever and please don’t sue me if I steal it. 🙂
Becky, I laughed so much at this….you are a legend!!! x
Racheypoo! We are all legends here!
Thank you 🙂
Hah! Was there ever a better looking Stickman than on that lamppost? Perhaps only the one in the beanbag……But agree….music is so many things…..but your garage lyrics have to be the best in that genre I’ve ever seen…..thinking you should begin to rent yourself out as garage music writer…the garage world might then actually get songs that make a bit of sense?
‘Becky Mayhew – Garage Music Writer’.
Thank you for finally giving me a career suggestion that makes sense. Thank you.
The Lacrimosa Requiem is my favourite classical piece! and I do love Jazz, as long as it’s not improvised, in fact I love all the musics, apart from boy/ girl bands and dubstep. *shudders*
Boy/girl bands can poke it.
I love the Lacrimosa Requiem – I am listening to it as we speak and am covered in TINGLES because Mozart was just a RUDDY HERO.
Makes me want to watch Amadeus all over again 🙂
I RUDDY LOVE THAT FILM!!!
Me too, great actors and awesome music! Win win.
I’ve never listened to any Salieri because that film has villianised him too much for me. I would just want to go back in time and smack him over the head.
Very entertaining Becky. Love the stick figures as usual – somehow you make them so real. The symphony conductor, the chilled-out-Becks and the sad Becks were my favs this time. The recap of music and its effects on the human (and stick-figure) condition was delightful. It is early morning here and I must confess you have begun my day on a light hearted note. Thank You.
Ahhhhhh bless you, what a lovely comment! Thank you! I have to say, I thought Stickman looked particularly good as a conductor. He’s a stick of many talents.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Losing control of one’s colon…that sounds relaxing. Another great post Becky. Thanks for taking me down memory lane and making me laugh all at the same time.
Yes, I hope I never become that relaxed.
Thanks Kathleen, as always 🙂
She picked me, she picked me!!! How awesome is that? Almost as awesome as this post, mind you.
Very impressed with Stickman by the way, didn’t realise he was so versatile. He must be exhausted after all that activity…
Of course I picked you! I don’t know why I’d never thought of music before.. thank you for an excellent prompt!
Stickman is a tired stick now – all that musical excitement has put him into a bit of a sticky coma… until next time …. 🙂
Homie Stickman!! Bwahahahaha! I love it 🙂
Stickman’s a cool dude, hey yo homie yo etc. 🙂
As someone who sings in a choir, I’ve come to like classical music a bit more. 😛
I suppose singing in a choir would kind of encourage that… 🙂
Awesome post. Your wordsmithery is symphonic!
Your commentsmithery is superb!
Wow simultaneously have Sweet Like Chocolate and a load of musical numbers in my head now! You’re a legend! Let’s hang out, I have a healthy supply of musicals on DVD haha!
YEAHHHHH MUSICAL DVD / GARAGE REMINISCING EVENING!!!
Ooh, I love seeing Sticky all jazzed up. He looks super cool! Funny stuff. I want to stuff my face with chocolates now and sing on a hill side, darling. xo
God, I would give my left elbow to be doing that right now. 🙂 x
Brilliant!! Good to see you back! Enjoyed.
Thank you 🙂
Becky, this is brilliant! I enjoy most types of music (save twangy country and extremely hard rock), but am not especially into any of it (EXCEPT FOR TUNES OF THE ’80S WHICH I LOVE) so it was fun to read your takes. That last paragraph, where you made a musical melange was fantastico. Would love to hear that put to music. Just saw Annie at a community theater and re-fell in love with the song Easy Street. That’s where we’re gonnnaaaa beeeeeee 🙂
I was listening to Easy Street the other night! And stumbling round my room singing Little Girls and pretending to be Miss Hannigan, but that’s another story.
Thanks for the lovely comment Liz, although sadly I can’t agree with you on the 80s music front… 🙂
I love a live classical music concert. I go to Carnegie Hall about three times a year and let me tell you something; those people know how to keep their mouths SHUT during a performance. No crinkling paper or mobile phones going off. No coughing, either. Not like those louts in the Broadway houses.
Do you know who Stan Getz is? He’s my fav.
Your show tune call-out paragraph is epic in scope. Is there an award for greatest paragraph ever written? I just saw–wait for it–“Rocky: The Musical.” It was okay. The last :20 minutes–the fight–was kind of mind-blowing. In the good way. Unfortunately, everything that happens before that :20 minutes is kind of ordinary. The music is just awful. One dull, droning song after another. Not one hook. NOT ONE. I can’t remember any of the songs and if your show is called “Rocky: THE MUSICAL,” that’s a problem. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” had the exact same problem. Pretty to look at but terrible music. Shame on U2. Boring, boring, boring.
I can’t stand house music or rap. It’s noise that requires no skill. An insult to musicians. Don’t hate me. I’m just an old white dude.
Another superb post. Damn you, Becky. Damn you.
Thanks friend 🙂
I am listening to Stan Getz as we speak (never heard of him before), and predictably it’s making me want to click and shuffle my way down a New York sidewalk in a leopard print dress and sink a load of Martinis… Smashing stuff.
I would LOVE to go to Carnegie Hall, FAR more than I’d like to go to Broadway. Musicals can actually be dire. Rocky: The Musical sounds horrendous. One of the best ones I’ve ever seen (at the London West End) was Sister Act: The Musical. THAT was amazing. Who doesn’t enjoy dancing nuns?
House and rap can take a running jump – and I’m just a young white gal 😉
Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment, as always 🙂
I am reluctant to send this link because it’s really kind of out there but there’s a chance you might find it interesting. There’s a chance you might love it. This is a piece Stan Getz he wrote for an orchestra. It has elements of classical music with a velvety sax in the forefront. The theme is based on the song “I’m Late, I’m Late” from the Disney animated movie Alice in Wonderland. Give it a try.
This is my favourite subject music had healing powers I actually believe this! Thank you for another brilliant piece of writing
Thank you 🙂
Yay! This is a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly excellent way to say things again! Great topic! Great post!
Sharing and sharing and sharing. 🙂
So glad you are saying things about music! 😀
Well I’m so glad you’re sharing and enjoying me saying things about music! (And am impressed you bothered to spell out Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, because that look ages.) 🙂
I felt *your* saying things … about music warranted my whipping out one of *my* most ridiculous Peady Powers… spelling silly, yet excellent, words, fully & accurately. 😀
***warning: formal music student***warning: I had a professor (a cellist) who said I had the perfect hands for cello (I was having too much fun learning classical guitar) and that I should study musicology**you have been warned**
I know people use the term ‘classical music’ to refer to all music from the Classical to Late Romantic eras (sometimes Baroque, but does anyone honestly listen to that), but it still feels… odd to me.
Especially as I believe Claude Debussy was a lone Impressionist in the Late Romantic era.
You see, classical music was not cool.
Liszt. Franz Liszt. He was THE rock star of his day. Look up Lisztomania on Wikipedia. He had groupies who broke out in hysterics, which was UNHEARD OF at the time. Seriously, look it up. Relatively few rock musicians have fans that went as hysterical as Liszt’s did. He was a showman, too.
Hahaha, who’d have thought it! Old Liszt being a rock star! I’ve learnt something today! 🙂
Thanks for commenting – I’m honoured to have an official music student commenting on it 🙂
Thank you! I do my best in spite of my poor education. Music in the schools is still hurting a lot, is dry and dusty, and there is so much that needs to be done to make it more accessible and real to the public. But, like many things, such things would upset certain Powers That Be. (It hasn’t gotten too much better since the story of the movie version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, if you get my drift.)
This is hilarious and SO TRUE. I love it. Your stick men are genius. A life without musicals would be a life not worth living. True story.
Sooooooooo true. Truer than anything else I’ve heard today.
Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂
Very cool and true
Thank you 🙂
It’s a relief to know there is somebody else out there who actually wades through all those ambient music stations looking for something to chill out to when writing! I was beginning to think I was the only one…
I am wading as we speak! 🙂
Excellent. And I love your stick man illustrations – power to the stick man!
I was brought up on a musical diet of classical, musicals at the theatre, Queen and French music from the 1960’s on old LP’s. It’s turned me into weird English woman who sings “Look at me I’m Sandra Dee” and “Oklahoma” to herself in the streets of southern France before going home to play Peer Gynt on her flute or sing Bohemian Rhapsody using a washing up brush as a microphone. Garage music? What’s that? A concert of guys hitting cars with spanners?
Hahaha, I played Peer Gynt on the flute!!! AND I sang Oklahoma to myself!! I think we may be the same person (apart from the Southern France bit…) 🙂
Oooooh. Freaksome. Awesomely freaksome. I have a musical Alter Ego. How cooool! I think I’m going to sing… OOOOOOO….KLAHOMA…. where the wind comes sweeping’ down the plain…. 😀
I think I love you and stick man just a little bit, Becky. Is that wrong? Great blog. I’m a big fan x
Not wrong at all. In fact, so, so right.
Thank you for your lovely words 🙂
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