Quiet Desperation

Music can change a life

Column by Craig Marshall Smith

I am completely out of it when it comes to the music that most people listen to.

Nina Simone never shook her rear end on stage. Bob Dylan doesn't change costumes between songs. I don't listen to anyone who has backup dancers. The music I listen to doesn't come with choreography. A symphony orchestra doesn't have backup singers or dancers or any of that nonsense.

Keep your raunchy, topless, motorcycle video away from me.

“Mr. Smith, aren't you being a little harsh? My daughter listens to hip-hop. At least she is listening to music. You have to start somewhere. Maybe someday she will get her head screwed on straight, and find out about Django Reinhart.”

Django Reinhardt didn't stick out his tongue.

But here's one: Josephine Baker twerked. Did she ever. And she is still one (or two) up on Miley Cyrus.

I have said this before: I don't dance and I don't watch dancers. This puts me in a low percentile. The population is low in the lower percentile, and it's my favorite address.

Jennifer and I went to a CU football game, and we were bombarded with bad music from the instant we entered the stadium until we left with a hearing loss in the third quarter. Some people, like restaurant owners, think that loud music connotes a good time. I think it connotes a headache.

If you are raised on something, that is what you know and expect. I wonder what it would be like to be a teenager who listens to Katy Perry, and then hears Billie Holiday for the first time.

Dr. Dre or Nat King Cole? Beyoncé or Ella Fitzgerald? One Direction or Arcade Fire? Eminem (featuring Rhianna) or Chopin (featuring Chopin)? Lady Gaga or Lady Day?

Those are easy for me to answer.

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 9, 1964, music — someone's music — changed my life. It was just a couple of months after the Kennedy assassination, and like everyone else, I needed something to change the way that I was feeling.

An odd looking and odd sounding man introduced a band from England. He insisted upon calling them “lads.”

“The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for US television, and was characterized by an audience composed largely of screaming, hysterical girls in tears.”

Their first song was “All My Loving.”

I didn't know this until recently: “The act that followed their first set in the broadcast was pre-recorded, rather than have someone perform live on stage amidst the pandemonium that occurred after the group performed their songs.”

Someone was thinking.

It would have been crazy if ventriloquist Señor Wences had come out live with Johnny, the face he drew on his hand. Crazy but wonderful.

Juvenile jealousies caused me to resist the band at first, because it was all the girls in my high school talked about.

But after a few months, and now after 50 years, I realize that their music is as important as anything I have ever heard “In My Life.”

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