Monday, May 28, 2018


I'm officially old and fussy and impossible to please.

I didn't like this tribute. Clicked off at the five second mark when the music started. Two notes, I'm out.


No. Not that dragged out dirge, not those drums, no bagpipes allowed.

It could have been excellent but then they felt the need for that death song.

Maybe you'll like it. Watch it and see. Tell me if it's good. I bet you'll like it. Sundance put it up, so it must be good. Untold thousands of people do like it. I didn't read them, but I'll bet that comments over there are supportive. Don't let my narrow bias influence you. My bias is strangely idiosyncratic.

It happened like this: The first time I heard the song I also saw it. Nanette Fabray sang and signed the song on television and I thought, "Hey, that's really cool. It's like the Indians in the cowboy movies talking in signs." So I learned it. Then went to school and showed the song to the whole class. Played the record on my sister's portable. We had to do some kind of demonstration or performance and that was my act. The kids were unduly impressed. Easy to do because the song is so basic and so achingly s-s-s-s-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w. Self denigrating about a reformed slave trader who found the Lord. The song is about Christian redemption. For some reason unknown to me it's become associated with funerals. So now, no televised military funeral is complete without it. All cop funerals feature the song. And bagpipes. Apparently it's easy to play on bagpipes, because it's so slow, so it's become an introduction to bagpipe song, too easy to be an etude. When you hear the song played by 100 bagpipes approaching from the distance, passing by, then departing, it really is heart-stirring. It really does get you. But played on a single bagpipe it's the sound of a couple of cats in a fight. Time happened and ruined the song for me. Too mournful. Too slow. It's already killed me a thousand times.

And Nanette Fabray seems so anachronistic today that it's not even funny. At a very young age I sought her out and attended the deaf-related functions where she was featured. I couldn't even drive. I was a child among adults listening to adults give speeches about particularly adult concerns and it really was like the adults speaking in Peanuts cartoon. They mostly ignored me. I couldn't even order a drink. Then after all that good from her, she took a nasty political-religious turn. I associate the song with Nanette Fabray and now her vibes are all wrong for me. They're static vibes. Bzzzzt, spark, zzzzt, flash, crash, spark, smoke, burned smell, bzzzt.

So no.

And I didn't like this tribute either, put up a day ago. Pedagogic. Tautologic. Who is the video even speaking to? For whom is it intended?
Remember, today isn't about being off work.
Or cookouts.
Or drinking with friends at the lake.
We know that!  Text shown over battle scenes of young soldiers disembarking LSTs being shot at, being killed before they can get off the landing boat, Omaha beach or some such, bullets zinging and pinging, bodies in water, underwater shots, clouds of pink appearing underwater, then above water with sound, then underwater with muted sound, disorientation, men carrying other men, dragging onto the beach, wounded, splashing, metal barriers, pings in the water, sprays of water, bodies floating,

Must you harsh my mellow so severely? Must you? Then that goddamn bugle.
It's about these guys.
We know that! Who are you even talking to?

They keep telling us to be sure not to have too much fun, like I'm a the tea dance in Provincetown kicking off the summer or something ridiculous, or gorging at some bbq ribs, NY steaks, bratwurst, hotdog, hamburger meat and beer orgy.

I started to really dislike this video then changed my attitude partway through it. Someone reading the Gettysburg Address, overlay, MLK has a dream, overlay, Neil Armstrong on the moon, overlay, JFK exhorting Americans to ask what they can do for their country, overlay, rap.


And not black urban rap either, rather, a milquetoast white person's kind of rap. Oh well, this is how kids talk to each other. This is their music form. It's what works for them. They're telling us all that we already know. They're telling us what we told them. They're repeating our lessons to themselves, and this is how it comes out when they say it. This is the sound of them singing our lessons to each other. I decided to like it.

I interpreted the rap into sign as it goes, that happens automatically, and it shows rather nicely although there are quite a lot of sign-synonyms, the English is in different words while the signs are the same for "flag" and for "waving" for example. Still, the rap is comprehensible in sign and can be shown precisely on point, as the k-pop dancers do, so you really can see exactly what you hear as you hear it. And all that fairly forced me to like the video.

I love the idea of new tributes. Each year, new tributes. You can enter "memorial day tribute" into YouTube search and go down the list, 1 day ago, 5 hours ago, this 4.5 hour concert was posted 6 hours ago, 4 years ago, 4 years ago, 7 hours ago. Nice one. An old dude driving down the road explaining what Memorial Day is about, then puts on a song. A country song saying all this all over again.

Driving down the road is analogy for living. Being alive, traveling your road, traveled by others, going the same direction but you alone in your car. And while traveling, also remembering the people who contributed with their own lives to making this drive possible.

I love it that people keep putting up these tributes. Your lessons to them turned them to teachers. This is your success.


edutcher said...

I agree there are much better songs, each to one's taste.

Memorial Day really does celebrate wheat's best about the country, really American Exceptionalism. Had the politicians gotten their way, all the Confederate general;s and government officials would have been executed. Guys like Grant and Sherman and Sheridan said over their dead bodies.

They were going by the Code of Honor at West Point. That's what kept us from becoming the banana republic Zippy tried so hard to create.

You could say West Point saved us all.

Lem said...

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
— John 15:13

a couple of chapters before...

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” — John 13:15

ricpic said...

Keep The Flame

Not being Europe,
Not being slaves,
That's what it was all about.

The guts, the glory,
Don't mean a thing
If the candle flickers out.

rhhardin said...

Purcell Death March for the Funeral of Queen Mary is nicer

aka clockwork orange theme