Archive for the ‘Music’ Tag

White Rabbit Day

It’s traditional that the first thing one says when waking up on the first of the month is ‘white rabbit’. If you are the first in the house to say it, you will be lucky for the rest of the month. I am usually the second up so I’m not sure if the luck bit works. We also said white rabbit to prevent someone saying and acting out, ‘pinch and a punch, fist day of the month’.

By coincidence white rabbit is the title of one of my favourite songs from the 1960s. Written by Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. It was one of the first popular songs to openly refer to drugs and still get plenty of air play. The late 60s and early 70s was a time when musical styles were far more diverse than today.

The age of the manufactured band had yet to arrive; most bands served their apprenticeship in pubs and church halls, not as part of a reality TV show. For anything to endure it must be based on a solid foundation. The latest pop bands are based on little more than the money making ideas of the music industry and the whim of the public. Knowing how fickle that is I doubt if many will survive the way the club hardened bands of the 60s and 70s have.

High Cost And Poor Quality Cause CD Blues

While music industry chiefs are busy shouting about the impact of piracy they are missing the real reason for the slump in CD sales. The high cost and the lack of good quality output. It’s only through the off shore internet sites such as CD WoW that CDs can be bought at a reasonable price. Most high street shops, even the big players are charging too high a price for a product that only costs a few pennies to produce even accounting for the fees of the performers and composers.

When cassettes replaced LPs the cost went up even though the production costs were less. When CDs replaced cassettes the cost went up again although the production costs reduced even further. Its been one big rip-off after another. I rarely buy a full price CD in a shop sticking to the sale items and occasional bargains. I also buy considerably less and don’t buy on spec any more. Too many promising CDs have turned out to be one-track-wonders.

I do not have any bootleg CDs and I’m very wary of buying any. There are too many stories of boot-leg rip-offs with poor sound reproduction and no sleeve notes. The answer to the problem is in the industry’s own hands. While it is cheaper to buy a Japanese import of a Paul Williams CD and Supermarkets seem to be able to undercut music shops and still make a profit I’ll continue to keep most of my cash in my pocket instead of handing it over to the music moguls.

Mum’s Music

As you get older you tastes do change, over last few years I have developed a taste for pork pies and more bitter things, although the sweet tooth remains. Its a change that has been noted in research and some scientists think is related to how the bodies needs change as we age. In music, my taste has remained remarkably eclectic, even as new styles in modern music have emerged I have found enjoyment in them all. There are some styles I find a little too extreme, such as the aleatory music of John Cage, some elements of the punk style and the extremities of modern jazz. Occasionally some on the modern composers have produced works that I have found enjoyable such as the minimalist Philip Glass and his Violin Concerto (1987).

However, what I find interesting is how I have returned the music my mother used to enjoy and which often filled the house. The radio was our companion for many years as we did not acquire a TV until the early 1960s. The Light Programme broadcast many music programmes, request shows and big band concerts. Liberace, Mantovani and Billy Cotton are a few names that come to mind. We would also sing along with the Sunday evening programme Sing Something Simple with the Cliff Adams Singers, but were often being overtaken by laughter as we got the lyrics wrong.

Sometime in the early 1960s we also acquired an auto-change turntable which my brother managed to connect to the radio. The turntable did not have a case and had to be balanced on two piles of encyclopaedias. My father started to bring home the occasional LP to supplement the small collection of 78s he had been given by his mother, which included, Paul Robson, the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots. The LPs he bought included the soundtrack to the Musicals South Pacific and the Desert Song, the piano music of Charlie Kunz and Winifred Atwell, the Big Ben Banjo Band, and the Boston Pops orchestra. The music and songs on these records are ingrained in my memory. I find then more enjoyable now than ever before even though they are probably not considered to be very fashionable. Being able to listen to the Mills Brothers sing Opus One and then swap straight to Alabama 3 singing The Thrills Have Gone means one is never without something to fill the mind.