Friday, April 27, 2012

Classic Rock Songs That I Would Never Like to Hear Again

There are tons and tons of classic rock songs out there that I should totally hate by now and yet remarkably I don’t. I mean, nobody really wants to hear Ray Manzarek play the organ one more time and yet we can all kind of sit through repeated listenings of the Doors if need be. And even “Stairway to Heaven,” in which I always find myself thinking, What will be the total number of times I will hear this song in my lifetime? and then answer: n + 1, because there will always be one more time. And yet I keep on listening because that song still works even if you are no longer a teenager whose very soul is composed of it. And even all the Stones songs they play on classic radio shows (none of which come close to my favorite Stones songs) are still quite listenable. And, of course, every single time I hear the first few guitar strums of “Maggie Mae” I am totally psyched to sing along. So if that’s the case, is there anything left? Oh yes, there is. There are some classic rock songs out there that I lost my patience with years ago. These are the songs that would be played in my own classic radio hell. I reveal them here for the first time knowing that, naturally, they will come back to haunt me.

1. Hotel California
All right, this is an easy one. Even if I hadn’t been forced to listen to it a million times in college when the boys that lived above me insisted on playing it day and night on a continuous loop, I think I would have grown to hate it anyway. What the hell is going on? You just can’t kill the beast? Come on, what are you talking about?

2. Money
Ugh. This song bewilderingly is on an album ("Dark Side of the Moon") full of dreamy swirly songs and yet it is exactly the opposite of that. It is like some kind of slap in the face. Who cares if that bass line is one of the most recognizable of all time? The song still sucks.

3. Walk this Way
I don’t have much to say about this one except that no one really likes it, right? I thought so.

4. Rock The Casbah
Okay, seriously, what is wrong with people? This is the Clash song you’d choose to play repeatedly out of all of them? Think of the worst song off their first three albums (Hmm, what would that song be? Maybe “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A”?) and it is still 1,000 times better than this one! The worst experience has to be listening to a classic rock station (in the car!) and hearing the D.J. saying, Next up, the Clash! and thinking, Please don’t let it be "Rock the Casbah"! Please don’t it be "Rock the Casbah"! and lo and behold, that’s exactly what it is.

5. Bennie and the Jets
This song is sort of exhausting, though it doesn’t become really awful until Elton John can’t stop repeating “B-b-b-bennie and the Jets” and then just “Bennie!” in that high-pitched tone that makes my head hurt just thinking of it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cause and Effect

At the very end of 1993, my boyfriend at the time and I made a list entitled “2010,” in which we predicted what the world would be like in that year. This was based on a few things, including what we expected, what we hoped would happen, and, of course, what was happening on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," which pretty much informed the future for us. We did not predict jet packs, since by then everyone knew that was always going to be the pretend vision of the future, but we tried to think about what would truly be possible.

Many things were not very visionary on our part ("New York City subway system will be using farecards!") or not very well elaborated ("something will replace microwaves – instant food makers") but some of them are kind of intriguing. We predicted that Europe would be one country (not bad), but also that North America would also be one country (way off). We predicted that there would only be email, no snail mail (even though we didn’t use the term “snail mail”), and that there would be "no more video stores – all movies through cable" (kinda). There are some things on the list ("virtual reality – primitive – consumer selling, medical") that I wish we’d elaborated on and some things that I don’t quite understand ("books will be published through modem – bulletin board, etc."). The first two things on the list ("voice-activated doors, video phones") came directly from "Star Trek."

I’m thinking about this now because of a video clip I saw recently that I cannot get out of my head. One of the guests on a 1956 episode of “I've Got a Secret” was the last living eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination. He had been five years old, attending the production of Our American Cousin, when he saw John Wilkes Booth leap onto the stage after shooting Lincoln, and fall and break his leg. This man, born in 1860, lived to tell his story on television. I can barely get past this fact, much less the rest of the details.

And yet here I am, living in the twenty-first century, the future. I was not a witness to anything as truly remarkable as a president's assassination, but I still remember when television simply ended at like 2 a.m., when, if you were frustrated by a busy signal, you could get an emergency operator to interrupt a phone call, when, as a kid, you could lie across the entire back seat of a car and sleep the whole way home. And these simple things are all pretty remarkable to my own children, who watch "Star Trek" with me now, and notice how not everything seems so futuristic on that twenty-fourth century ship. My favorite episodes are always the ones in which time is proven not to be a linear thing, but round, something you can catch up to if you’re not careful.

Which leads me back to Samuel J. Seymour, a man still alive in the age of television, who proved that somehow the Civil War was still present and not just part of some disconnected past. For his appearance on the show, Seymour received $80 and a can of pipe tobacco.