Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Sounds of Pure Gold. Whither Art Thou?

Lookin' back on how it was
In years gone by
And the good times that I had
Makes today seem rather sad
So much has changed.

It was songs of love that
I would sing to then
And I'd memorize each word
Those old melodies
Still sound so good to me
As they melt the years away.

All my best memories
Come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry.
Just like before
It's yesterday once more

On a lazy Sunday, my mind lilted pleasurably to the haunting strains of “Yesterday Once More” by “The Carpenters”. This song never fails to transport me into my past and linger in my sweetest memories, very akin to a freewheeler inebriated in ade. Unfailingly, my nostalgia was stirred once again and it spurred me further on my journey into the bygone days as I dug out melody after melody from my MP3 album and soaked in the emotive notes of my favorite numbers once again. Soon, “yesterday Once More” gave way to “Always Somewhere” by “The Scorpions”, my all time favorite band. Next on the list was “Sutter’s Mill” by “Dan fogelberg”. Amazingly, this song invokes in me the same intensity of pleasure and emotion every time I listen to it. Every time, it transports my mind to America and the Wild, Wild West where cowboys scrambled and fought for their share of the gold nuggets lying hidden among the pebbles on the river beds. This also reminded me of the many fascinating cowboy adventures I had read in comic books during my childhood. Wild Bill Hickock, Billy The Kid, Jesse James, Roy Rogers, The Pinkertons and many other characters from the cowboy comics flashed into my mind. Even as the strains of “Sutter’s Mill” wafted my mind over the ranches, the saloons and the Apache ridden valleys of Cowboy land, the next number on my playlist jolted me back into reality. It was a loud modern number with all the characteristics of discordant lyrics and notes that today’s music has come to represent. I was in no mood to let my mind be dragged back into the crassness of modern pop. I quickly jumped to my next favorite oldie, “Time After Time” by Cindy Lauper. I continued to bask in a wonderland of my own as the stream of the glory and mellifluousness from the past continued to pour in to stir and gratify my weary senses. The plaintive tunes of “Soldier of Fortune” by Deep Purple, the rocking lyrics of “living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, visions of the beautiful countryside in Lobo’s “You and Me and a Dog named Boo”, the lovelorn voice of Smokie in “Living Next Door to Alice”, pictures of a quaint country life by Glen Campbell in “Rhinestone Cowboy”, the glorious music and lyrics of “With or Without You” by the incomparable U2, the supreme melody of the Bee Gees in “How Deep is Your Love”, the rocking love ballad “Waiting for A Girl Like You” by “Foreigner” and many such songs took me on a pleasure trip to the surreal land of dreams.

Music has been always regarded as perhaps the most effective balm for a stressed mind. It soothes the senses and helps us forget all the worries of life during those few melodious moments. However, I find that most of the music of today lacks the smoothness and lyrical value of the music of earlier years. Today’s music is more a staccato version of the lyrical composition which fails to evoke any kind of pleasure or imagination in the mind. It is quite possible that I have lost tune with the fast changing times, but I still feel that my disinclination for modern-day music is borne more out of paucity of real quality than any petty prejudice. Perhaps, in an age of television wars, it has become imperative to lend more and more visual value to the songs even at a cost to the musical and lyrical content. Choreography and cinematography are of the essence today as opposed to the flowing and melodious music of the past. It is a big irony that music in this day and age is no longer a solace for the stressed mind. It has become a symbol of the loud and the boisterous mood of city life. This is perhaps the noisiest and most disjointed phase in the history of western music. All is not lost however. There are some singers and bands that still would not compromise the essence of music for the sake of slapstick video effects. Bands like U2 and Backstreet Boys, solo singers such as Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Madonna and a few others still regard the content and musical value of songs above all other considerations. But these are few and far in between. We can only hope that this age of noise comes to an end sooner rather than later, and everybody can again swing to the tunes of soul-clasping, mind-swinging music. Just as Karen Carpenter so beautifully sings -

……Those were such happy times
And not so long ago
How I wondered where they'd gone
But they're back again
Just like a long lost friend
All the songs I loved so well

Every Sha-la-la-la
Every Wo-o-wo-o
Still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling
That they're startin' to sing
So fine…….

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