Archive for February, 2011

Lady Gaga: not ‘going my way’

February 25, 2011

By David Farside

Feb. 21st, 2011

Watching “60 minutes” on Sunday night is more of a ritual than a habit. But if Andy Rooney isn’t mentioned in the lead — “Those stories and Andy Rooney …” — the ritual sometimes becomes a bad habit. Victimized by my own addiction, I watched Anderson Cooper’s interview with Lady Gaga preceding the latest Grammy awards on the same CBS network. The segment was a good example of media hype, corporate promotion and a “tease” leading to the Grammy telecast.

Lady Gaga is bright, intelligent and an accomplished musician. Aside from that, she classifies herself as a marketing expert. As a child, her first love was music and she started entertaining at a young age. No one paid much attention to her music or her talent, so she discovered a way of marketing a flamboyant stage presence. Audiences were attracted to her outrageous costumes while some actually appreciate her original music. During the interview, she candidly admitted she uses drugs. She said she’s always honest with her fans. I’m sure parents and the Drug Enforcement Agency were happy to hear her honesty. So, with all that marketing by CBS, “60 Minutes” and Lady Gaga, I just had to watch the Grammy presentations.

It wasn’t the first time I saw the Grammy awards. In 1959, my wife dragged me to the show in Los Angeles to witness the first Grammy winners accept their gramophone trophies for their musical accomplishments from the previous year. And what a great musical year it was.

Who could forget the mellow sounds of Perry Como, the Kingston Trio, Henry Mancini, Billy May, Stan Freberg and André Previn?  Or the upbeat styles of Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Jonah Jones, Louis Prima and the beautiful voice of his wife, Keely Smith?

I can still remember the words to “Volare,” “Catch a Falling Star,” “Tequila,” “That Old Black Magic,” “The Chipmunk Song” and “Tom Dooly.” The musical score from “Gigi,” “Peter Gunn” and “The Music Man” are still considered classics.

You would think the winners of the most Grammy awards over the years would be celebrity entertainers. Not so. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra owns the record with 60 Grammy awards for a musical group. I’ll bet you can’t think of even one of their recordings. Neither can I.

With all of her marketing, current popularity and stage antics, I wonder how many Grammys Lady Gaga will receive for her musical talent or if she’ll even be remembered in 50 years.

After a few minutes of noise they call music, I switched off the Grammys and started to channel surf. I found a 1944 movie called “Going My Way” starring Bing Crosby, June Lockhart, opera star Rise Stevens and Barry Fitzgerald, who received an Academy Award as best supporting actor in the movie.

In contrast to the Grammys’ colorful costumes, loud voices, screaming lyrics you couldn’t understand and basically no-talent entertainers, the movie was in black and white, you could understand the words of every song and the orchestrated voices of the Robert Mitchell boys choir could bring tears to your eyes.

The story line was about a new young priest (played by Crosby) replacing the aged pastor (played by Fitzgerald) to save a deteriorating Catholic church. As you can imagine, all Catholics, especially altar boys and members of the choir, had to see the movie or suffer the consequences of doing penance. At least that’s what my mother told me. After seeing portions of the same movie at least 10 times in my life, I still enjoy the singing, music and talent of the performers. More than I can say for the Grammy awards.

It seems singers today don’t even know how to speak English. I never knew the word “no” had six syllables and could be dragged through every note on the musical scale. “Baby” was pronounced “biiibe” and “you” had the same six syllables as “no” and covered half the page of sheet music. Must be something new they’re teaching in creative writing.

They can’t even remember the words to the national anthem. Prior to the Super Bowl, Christina Aguilera, another Grammy award winner, forgot the words and screamed the word “wave” using five syllables and four different notes. That’s probably an exaggeration, but you get my point.

The older we get the wider the generation gap becomes, especially when it comes to music. But every generation listens to and enjoys music it doesn’t always understand. Pavarotti, the three tenors, opera and classical music at times can seem foreign to us. Yet we can still recognize and appreciate the talent, complexities and art of the performers and composers.

As I get older, I realize I’ll never understand the direction of music like Lady Gaga’s. But it will always find its own way in our younger generation’s society. Fortunately, it will never be ‘going my way.’

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