Jewish World Review June 20, 2002/ 10 Tamuz, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Behind the music | Bruce Springsteen was on the "Lite Rock" station today. "The Boss" was mixing it up with Enya and Neil Diamond. I programmed the crooner station into my car stereo and now the Rat Pack, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Engelbert Humperdink, and on occasion, Roger Miller, and I are one. Dang me, such intimacy with crooners and country whimsy springs from one too many carpools of child-induced exposure to hip-hop, rap, b-bop, and grunge-rock groups, who shall remain nameless because I can't spell their names, or they can't, e.g., Limp Biskit, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Bruce is Lite and I'm with the crooners because there are no discernable lyrics in the music my children worship. My parents said the same thing about the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." However, "Here Comes the Sun," a Lite Rock favorite, has a hummable melody. If I detect notes in my children's music, the song is a remake. My favorite is a hip-hop group's version of Kenny Rogers' and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream." The lyrics have been changed, I believe, but can I know?

My generation had its share of nonmusical music. A 36-month-old with a Fisher-Price school bus and the portly characters can duplicate the drum solo from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida therein. But, we had the Beatles and every McCartney/Lennon tune has made it to Muzak. I've even heard "Golden Slumbers" in the elevator. The Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" and "As Tears Go By" are in many dental offices.

Having no melodies or English words, today's musicians sound identical. Jennifer Lopez sounds like Britney Spears who sounds like 'NSync (that spelling thing again). I can, however, make out one 'NSync song phrase: "Bye, Bye, Bye," repeated 97 times. The Everly Brothers did that theme with a melody and only 2 "Bye, Byes."

I can't see today's female artists reaching Patsy Cline, Peggy Lee, or Ella Fitzgerald status. Try to picture Ella lip-syncing in low-rider pants with a microphone strapped to her head as she performs karate kicks in clouds of smoke. Blasphemy!

I have a hard time envisioning today's male artists bathing, let alone becoming legends. The troubled male rockers wear plaid Van's slip-on sneakers, striped pants much like Hillary Clinton's number from her Wellesley days (a ghastly green, brown and Southwest Airlines orange), hair with the same color pattern, and some form of stud in the mouth area. Dean Martin with a pierced chin? Or Perry Como singing "Catch a Falling Star" with his face painted white as rappers Insane Clown Posse do?

Rolling Stone's interview with Pharrell [sic] Williams, one of today's record producers, reveals bone-chilling stupidity in today's musicians. Mr. Williams, a millionaire courtesy of Britney and Mystikal [sic]'s hit, "Shake Ya Ass," informs us, "Lord knows I have no malice in my heart. But I've got tattoos and I still fornicate."

These are WWF characters with guitars and the same DNA as Roger Clinton and Dennis Rodman. Kid Rock and Eminem are white trash who look as if they stepped from an Airstream parked somewhere for 32 years in violation of even industrial zoning.

But, both the New York Times and Time offer exuberant kudos for the work of Eminem, including his latest album complete with video featuring him dancing a jig dressed as Osama bin Laden. A few song titles: "____ Can Happen," "Just Don't Give a ____," with the sequel, "Still Don't Give a _____." Some examples of his musical poetry, "I'll slit your throat worse than Ron Goldman," and "Too many mental problems got me snortin coke and smokin weed again." I cannot quote more of his lyrics without the MTV censor who bleeps Ozzy Osbourne and his family on "The Osbournes."

Ozzy, formerly of Black Sabbath (the name says it all, really), is a phenomenon among the MTV crowd that buys, or at least steals via the Internet, today's music. The hit MTV series is a one-hour weekly infomercial for, "This is what happens to your brain post-drugs." Ozzy has the shuffle walk of an 84-year-old, the slurred speech of a homeless wino, and a stunning inability to find hair dye. The indefatigable MTV censors bleep away as the Osbournes make today's music: indecipherable words mixed with annoying noises.

My parents despised the Rat Pack because they smoked, drank and ran around with Angie Dickinson. But, their harshest words were, "Chicago, that toddling town." Sinatra called women broads, but Eminem's music calls Lynne Cheney, "BLEEP." An MTV camera at Tony Bennett's home would find him mixing red wine vinaigrette dressing whilst listening to NPR and donating to the domestic violence shelter. Old Blue Eyes might have a few mobsters about the place, but none of them would bite the heads off bats, a classic Osbourne ploy, or throwing a ham at the neighbors, ala Ozzy's wife.

No one should be surprised at the success of "The Osbournes." They are the music industry that has captured the minds of our youth with confused, childish, decadent behavior induced by brain cells emptied to drugs, and all without a stitch of talent. I'd give Ozzy a chance to defend himself, but I can't understand a word he says. And Muzak is not a possibility for this guy's work either.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings