By Judy Reiss
First, I want you to turn on your radio or whatever piece of equipment you have that plays current music. Do you have it? Now, I want you to listen to some piece of “music” that your teenage children are listening to. Do you have it? OK, now I want you to listen to the entire thing. Now, I want you to turn off the radio or whatever. Can you sing or hum the “song” that you heard? Somehow I don’t think so.
Now, I want you to listen to either a song by John Denver or Peter, Paul, and Mary. You can pick any one of their songs and just listen to one. Now, do the same thing that you did with the “song” from your teenager. Hum or sing whatever song you listened to. Do you hear and understand the difference? One really doesn’t have a tune or words that you either understand or wouldn’t say or sing if you did. The other is a tune that once heard you have a problem getting out of your head. And the words are ones that you aren’t embarrassed to say to anyone.!
I was browsing on my TV the other night and came on a special about John Denver on PBS. It was, as usual, a wonderful tribute to this amazing singer and musician. But what really made me think was his songs and voice. After the show was over, I almost cried thinking about what wonderful songs he gave us. And ‘Annie’s Song’…well, two out of my four children had it sung at their wedding and it was just wonderful. For those of you who might not know, that lovely song was written by John Denver. I know these days songs that you can hum and sing are out of fashion. What are considered songs are things that have no tune and the words are, in many cases but not all, obscene. And I, for one, can’t imagine listening to or “singing” songs with words that back in the day you would have gotten your mouth washed out with soap if you spoke, let along tried to sing. Am I wrong? I don’t think so.
Back in the day of John Denver and of course, one of my favorites, Peter, Paul and Mary, the songs were just terrific. You could not only hum the melody, you could almost sing them right after you heard them. There were many other singers who sang many songs that were just terrific and you could sing without even thinking about it.
I really think that if the young people of today had terrific music to listen to instead of scary stuff, our entire civilization might be different. Now, before you laugh at such a statement, think about it. It would be hard to discuss killing people and how you can steal and destroy someone else when you were listening to “Puff the Magic Dragon” or even “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. The more the children listen to music that is not only obscene but has no meaning to it and certainly you can’t sing, the easier it is to step outside the rules that parents and grandparent believe in. Life is difficult enough these days without making it even harder by not having music that is fun to sing.
I know that I sound like an old fool but think about it. When I was young and any of you were young, the music of our parents was the big band era songs and Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme. And even if we didn’t love that music, we liked it while enjoying our music, too. But that just isn’t the way it is today. There just isn’t the same enjoyment from generation to generation and truthfully, I don’t know why.
But I guess there isn’t much we can do about it except not to listen to what they like and to just put on our oldies’ but goodies instead. I assure you, an hour of the music and songs of those like John Denver will make you not only nostalgic but happy and relaxed, I promise you!