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November 02, 1975 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-02

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Sunday, 'November 2, 1975


Page Five



Time Goes By

Notes on American songs

By STEVEN SCHWARTZ on your wall. reason publishers still include irony to its least ambiguous ,
A FEW YEARS AGO at the I was reminded of :the pic- simplified guitar chords on most forms. j
Tate Gallery in London, I ture by the recent concert of sheet music). This, of course, And yet. And yet. I have pur-
came across a huge painting popular songs given by Joan is only a description, not a con- posely overstated the fragility
by a Romantic artist named Morris and William Bolcom, demnation. Many of these songs of popular art. The analogy per-
Moran. Called "The Flood," it easily one of the best I've heard are lovely. Gradually, however, haps ought not to be with Moran
shows beasts and men strug- in six years. I will review the songs came to be written for but with Turner and Constable.
gling through storm and rising concert later on. Meanwhile, as the stage rather than the home. What is miraculous is that with
water toward the last tip of you might have guessed, it rais- Nevertheless rtcause p I such little prodding we can be
high ground, obviously once ed several disturbing questions Ne artis , ppp - moved, with almost no condes-
the peak of a mountain. A flash on the nature of popular art I lar art is primarily itend- cension, by the power of the
oflghting r the airwhich should be examined. ed as a salable commodity, it best of these songs. At intermis-
ohi c , canvasg I ai esr, must to some extent share and sion, I counted at least five
whips across the canvas. I know Popular art'implies essentially flatter the values of the con- people from different parts of
very little about painting, and a manufacturer-consumer rela- sumer. All this means is mere- the hal whistling and half-hum-
I suspect more sensitive critics tionship. In this situation, are ! lvtatthfecieesi e m aliting beBaesdI' ay-
would find the work painfully becomes a commodity - to be strongly tied to a particular ming Eubie Blake's "I'm Crav-
corny- a 19th-century equiva-sold - like cereal or stereo audience. Once that audience of Love,"
lent to 9The Poseidon Adven- equipment. American popular passes, so does the product. We which they had probably just
k little ded f no heard for the first time. The
imagination to feel how Moran home use. In the Victorian par- cause we have the dry look, songs stick to you pleasurably
must have thrilled his original lor, the family not only read IWe no longer feel the need for and easily. The great sogwrit-
audience. The lightning-bolt edifying literature and discussed the moral edification of "After ers may have started as manu-
lurid, splashy, and overdone - the Bible, but (as anyone who, the Ball." In fact, we may re- facturers, but they seemed to
can still catch you short. Tech- has seen "Meet Me in St. Louis" sent it strongly, believe the better written the
nically, it seems quite accomp- knows) also sand songs, such song, the better its chances of
lished, the handling of fore- as "Saved from the Deep" and POPULAR ART, THEN, tends becoming a bona fide hit. Per-
shortening, the lack of clutter "Come into the Garden, Maud." to become as disposable as 'haps a few of them came to see
in a large filled space, the ar- Stephen Foster and Henry Clay kleenex. It is difficult to im- themselves as serious or nearly
rangement of movement that Work are the most notable agine anyone singing "Down- serious artists - especially
drags the viewer into the pic- American suppliers of this mar- town" (the lights are brighter Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Duke
ture). Still, it belongs too com- ket. The songs had to be sing- there) 10 years from now. Sim and Arlen. Their claim to seri.
pletely to its own time to con- able, the accompaniments sim- ilarly, it is just as hard to think ous recognition is not as ridic-y
nect with the modern spectator. , ple enough to be played by ama- of Gladys Knight doing "My two-thids o Morris and Bol-
You wouldn't want to hang it teurish amateurs (this is the Castle on the River Nile" in to-'us progray is ns o d as
her Las Vegas act. How long com s a is s gohd
did people Carioca? How long almost anything Schubert, Schu-
will they do the Hustle? "After mane, Brahms, Strauss, and
the Ball" expresses the recent Wolf ever wrote. It is probably
. . . immigrants' need for a fantasy our American insecurity toward
decadence, a "high life" 'in high art that prevents us from
America just as "Annie's Song" giving our songwriters their ap-
represents our own longing for parent due.
the purification of unspoiled love There are many problems
in the unspoiled wilderness. with this specific remedy. It's
not that the songs aren't as
MUCH OF OUR popular mu- good. Most composers would
sic hangs in a mnemonic count themselves lucky to have
limbo. Not only do we have to written "It's Only a Paper
be reminded of them, but we Moon" or "Our Love is Here
must also force ourselves to re- to Stay." Yet, once popular mu-
sti' ..~ call our history: our inheritance sic becomes classical, it shares
{ ( from Europe, particularly the the fate of classical music, and
waltz-ballad; the borrowings today the vitality of classical
from ragtime and later the music is low. The classical audi-
blues and still later Latin-Amer- ence, generally speaking, is
ican rhythms; and all the so- deeply involved right now in a
cial history they drag in with grotesque form of ancestor wor-
4 them. It's so easy to forget how ship. New music rarely gets
Sto listen. During the concert, played, even in universities
for example, part of the audi- (particularly this university).
ence kept laughing in the wrong Most modern repertory stan-
places in a group of thirties' dards were written 30-to-60
songs. Most of these rely very years ago. Try buying a record
heavily on irony - Porter's of something as conservative
"Love for Sale" and Kay Swift's as Bloch's fourth string quartet.
"Can't We be Friends?"-some- The classical audience seems
thing nearly absent from cur- more interested in certification
rent popular song. Where it per- of genius than in music itself.
r sists is in parody and sature, It refuses to take a chance. It
Morris and bolcum in such songs as "Fixin'-to-Die wants top value for its great-
--- Rag" and Zappa's "You Didn't ness dollar. So we run across
Try to Call Me." We have for- the all-Beethoven or all-Tschai-
I4gotten the tragic origins of kovsky concert, not as an occa-
irony, that wit can be self-de- sional novelty but as a standard
* er e structive as well. The reaction event. Because of massive cul-
1 stemmed from the restriction of tural insecurity we lose classi-
iNn rrjrtt k

cal music as a vital f
instead find a badly
seum. One hopes for
fate for these songs.

orce and and clear, her vocalism flexi- Berlin on the homespun pleas- part of the evening for me was
run mu- ble, her diction superb. She can ures of rural Michigan with its Eubie Blacke's "Capricious Har-
a better sing in beautiful and colloquial gently insistent syncopation ("I lem," a piano solo by Bolcom.
English without reminding you want to Go back. I want to ;,n its dreamy, ruminative intro-
'that she was trained to sing Go back") shows the influence spection it reminds me vaguely

(INE COULD SAY Bolcom in Italian - an accomplishment of rag. J.P. Johnson's "New - but only vaguely - of the
and Morris conducted a tour, of very few classical singers. Walk" is probably a jazz clas- second movement of Gershwin's
although an immensely enter- Furthermore, she is as fine and sic - unbelievable key changes Concerto in F. Yet, Blake is
taming one, of a museum. The as versatile a singing actress and an amazing fleetness in much more concentrated and
objects on exhibit, many of as I'll ever see. Her sense of its har'monic rhythm. Jerome rambles less. Bolcom should
them masterpieces, nevertheless comedy is delicate and precise Kern's "Bill" has been butch- record it,
are not really a part of our I and her performance of torch' ered so many times one forgets
mental life. Yet this isn't fair, songs makes all the more ef- that, in spite of the corn, it is 1OO MUCH BACKGROUND,
for in many ways the concert feet because of its restraint., a gorgeous and affecting song. not enough on the concert.
represented a willingness to run Technically, Bolcom has limita- Porter's "Love for Sale." Kay Oh well. Perhaps the highest
risks precisely because many tions as a pianist; he occasion- Swift's "Can't We be Friends?" compliment I can pay Morris
of the songs weren't familiar. nlly fluffs. But this is more - why don't we hear more of and Bolcom is that like the very
The audacity of Morris and Bol- than offset by admirable mu-, her work? This song is a mas- I greatest interpreters, they leave
com - a concert of largely un- sicianship. He phrases not justI terpiece and yet the only time you not with themselves, but
known material, and a Lieder well, but superbly. He can vary you see her mentioned .is in the! with the composer and his work.
recital of popular songs - was the color of his instrument ; his1 acknowledgments of Gershwin!
concealed by the incredible flair piano shineshand sings.' biographies. Arlen and Har- Steven Schwartz, a University
with which they brought it off. burg's "Paper Moon." "I Wish faculty member in the English
Musically, Morris and Bolcom' T WISH I COULD talk about I Were in Love Again" by Rod-! deIariment, has b e e n hanging
avoided the usual pitfalls of each piece on the program or gers and Hart. The most moving around Ann Arbor for six years.
classically trained musicians do- even about 15 of the pieces, but j~--
ing pop: the rigor mortis of Jan no one can tolerate the adjective!'
Peerce singing Fiddler on the "great" too often. Instead, I'll THE SUN PRESENTS
Roof or a bizarre parody of mention the works that made
Peggy Lee. Instead they main- thb deepest impression. Jonlin's
tained a difficult balance which "Eugenia Rag" is music of T H E A FT E R
nevertheless seemed perfectly great refinement and bears
natural. I am convinced Joan about as much resemblance to ' N ' ®E 4 H TI 1 * E
Morris can sing anything but the schlockmusik on Lawrence I
Wagnerian opera, and that only Welk as a Chopin mazurka does
because of the apparent size of to Polish peasant dancing. An
her voice. Her tone is sweet early (1914) number by Irving

ec iE s

jazz presenrs


Sunday, Nov. 2 - 8 p.m. -- Power Center

Tickets : $4,5,6 Ann Arbor
d eserved seats available at:
Mr. Music at Briarwood
Tom's Party Store -
Ann Arbor Music Mart
Michigan Theatre
Michigan Union - UAC Ticket Central
Cning Nov. 22: Bobby "Blue "Bland & Lihther Allison
No Smoking or Drinking inside the Theatre Pjease.


UAC Box Office, Michiaon Union
Both Discount Record Shops
The Blind Pic

___.__.... ... . _ _._..._ _. i

(Continued from Page 6) (ITHER ATHLETES share a
ship 12 of the last 15 years. Last common advantage over
year, for the first time ever, a i even the grid stars: they don't
freshman, Wolverine Harley; wear helmets on the field, floor:
Danner, won the all-around; or court. Truthfully, would you
title. know Tim Davis or Ricky
Leach out of uniform? A story
Harley really enjoys life at that confirms this suspicion oc-
waUvrdsit he footb all pogratbencoveirmsinsuMichinsorts
the University and feels abso- curred a couple of weeks ago
lutely no resentment at all to- when a photographer who had
wards the football program. been covering Michigan sportsI
The recognition part of it! for two years was walking on
doesn't'bother me a bit. Sports State St. between classes. A YlW
and academics are completely reporter friend of her pointed
separate. Last year, after we out senior fullback and track
won the championship, my star, Rob Lytle. With a look of
friends in the dorm congratu- incredulity she replied, "You're
lated me. I've been treated fine kidding, I didn't know he was
and have no complaints. white."


_ _, _r _

y l 09
9G4 9
In " .

Edward Szabo, conducting
the renowned American cellist

.Who 11ll 1have
the largest
seleetion of
records and
tapIes in
r1i ho Will match
any competitors
advertised price?




in a special benefit concert
for the Symphony operating fund.
Beethoven ;Egrnont Overt re
Saint-s;ens: Cello Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations
Men delssohn: Reor ma Hion Symp hony
Tickets at the door beginning at noon.
10 50 and1 ti


A phone calL A simple,
ten-acnt phone call for a cab could
save your friend's life.
If your friend has been
drinking too much, he shouldn't
be driving.
The automobile crash is the.
nrmm4EWr nnA. v i vusof pat f onn a

that the drunk drivers responsible,
for killing young people are most
often other young people.
Take a minute. Spend a
dime. Call a cab. That's all. If you
can't do that, drive him yourself.
Or let him sleep on your couch.

[ -- --- """" "" -
I BOX 2345
I want to save a friend's life.
Tell me what else I can do.
I My name is






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