Tonight I attended a music recital at the BA's school.
As it was her first public performance on drums after four years of piano she was understandably nervous but I personally was looking forward to the event. Was it because I was eager to see my beloved daughter displaying her skills? To see where my hard earned money is going re: drum lessons? No. It was because after four years of listening to 'Indian Dance', 'Jingle Bells' and 'Claire De Lune' (at least twice) being murdered on the piano by 9 year olds, I was eager for a change in fare!
The music department, ably run by a good friend of mine, holds a series of music nights through the year which group together similar instruments. For example, there is a keyboard night, a vocals night and tonight's offering: drum, guitar and bass. Being a happy clappy Christian school there tends to be a plethora of rock guitarists and drummers in the fold and there is often some real talent in the air. They're not too fussed about sticking to worship music either which means there's often a bit of quality rock n' roll and punk on offer ;-)
The BA herself is a novice but she has surprised me with her aptitude for drums given that she had all but no sense of rhythm as a tot. Tonight she was performing to a backing track by Tommy Igoe called 'Time and a Half' which I really liked when she played it for me at home. She was disparaging of her own skills however, condemning the track as 'boring' and her own playing as under par.
So we approached the evening with differing expectations and levels of anxiety.
I perused the programme with delight. For my listening pleasure there would be performances of: Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Classical Gas, Cold Play, ACDC, Cream, Snow Patrol and 3 Doors Down. There was also a couple of numbers by Australian greats Tommy Emmanuel and Paul Kelly. What a treat! I nervously hoped the BA could hold her own in this rarified atmosphere.
Tonight I heard more perfectly good songs murdered by inept musicians and their irresponsible instrumental teachers than in any other previous music night! There were about 22 performers and by the 6th it was obvious that rhythm was not a pre-requisite for entry into the guitar program. Most of them were pretty happy when they hit the right chords and the temporal placement of these chords seemed of little importance to the majority of the 'would be' Eric Claptons.
Amongst the roadkill was a version of Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love' played on bass guitar, solo, with no backing track, drums or vocals. A novel experience and one endured by many a bass player's mother through the years I am sure but why by a poor unsuspecting audience?
Also, note to guitar teachers: do not ever, ever, ever let your pre-teen student of 12 months attempt 'Stairway to Heaven' when it is evident that the poor creature has only had the music for a week, has never heard the original and has had limited time to practice. Really. Woeful.
Alright, so I am being harsh. But really! If they are going to perform, choose something appropriate for them. Don't give the kid with arrhythmia and 6 months experience 'Classical Gas' to tangle his fingers around. The same thing could be said of Kryptonite by 3 doors down and something called 'Face Down' by 'The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' which was the victim of a serial killer, being trashed more than once!
On the upside, I discovered a new piece of music which I liked so much that I downloaded it upon getting home. One of the BA's contemporaries executed a very nice version of Pearl Jam's 'Yellow Ledbetter' which had me bobbing up and down in my seat. I have since discovered that it is the source of some controversy, being one of those songs where you cannot discern a single lyric.
Now for those of us over 45 this is not an unusual situation. Heck, most of the songs writtten in the late 60s and early 70s featured artists so far off their faces that their noses had to ask for directions to their ears. We grew up expecting that lyrics would be indecipherable. People like Peter Frampton even put synthesisers over their voices to ensure that they were incomprehensible! Apparently however, our modern youth are more demanding (now there's a surprise).
Wikipedia lists this as one of the quintessential indecipherable lyrics songs of all time. This has resulted in some quite amusing You Tube banter. One rapier wit posts a 'Misheard Lyrics' video and some poor dour Pearl Jam fan responds with:
Have you ever thought you might be the stupid one for thinking that you have to understand the lyrics instead of feeling the emotions the song creates? I can't speak or understand spanish music but I can apreciate it all the same.
Dear, dear some people take themselves far too seriously! :-)
On a site which features the actual song, a critic quips
image credit: meg white
image credit: cream