The Art Lives On…
Yes, I realize I’ve been gone for a little while and shamefully let winter ennui get the better of me. I would have gone to bed again this evening without adding to this blog if I hadn’t been shaken awake by a situation which was out of the ordinary.
A deadline had passed for a letter I promised one of my daughter’s teachers praising some of the programs at her middle school in an attempt to help them gain recognition for their efforts to help students. As a background for this project, I had different Beatles’ songs (mostly from the Rubber Soul album – I still have my parents’ copy tucked away in storage) playing on YouTube when the daughter I was writing about joined me to listen. Since I had her full attention, I decided to abandon my letter until she lost interest or bedtime. She sang along with the ones that had lyrics and studied their young faces which were in the videos. She asked me about each one of them and I named them over and over as the images changed. John, Paul, George, Ringo. We listened to Ringo’s “Photograph” and George’s “Here Comes the Sun”. At some point she asked me if any of the Beatles were dead.
I tried to explain the shooting death of John Lennon and wound up looking up the information on Wikipedia. When I tried to read the article to her, I was reduced to tears. I tried again and couldn’t finish. The thought of his son waiting for him to come home the night he was shot and the senselessness of the slaying of such a peaceful man is just so tragic. I can’t explain why it took me so long to mourn him other than in the winter of 1980 I was so caught up in the social aspect of high school that the death of an artist couldn’t touch me. It took a little over 29 years for me to get around to grieving the loss of John Lennon and it’s amazing how deeply I feel it.
Whether or not you like the music of the Beatles, it is undeniable that they were unique not only in the innovative music they wrote, but their staying power – the number of years that they worked together (even after they split up) and how their music has survived. I was reading that “Here Comes the Sun” has been covered over 3,000 times by other artists. That’s remarkable.
Art touches us all, whether its music or literature or a painting. What makes it significant is how it makes us feel, how it inspires people to build upon it and how it lasts. Current music artists today continue to revisit the music of their predecessors not because they can’t write anything new, but because it’s worthy of revisiting. In a world which is slowly being overtaken by Disney produced songs, it’s refreshing to hear something that’s not digitally homogenized sung by a plastic 20-something girl or androgynous boy with perfectly straight white teeth and dance moves like Fred Astaire.
Please do not interpret that last paragraph as stating that there is no new music which is worthy of appreciation. It exists. You just have to look past the Mouse.
There are many artists who changed music for the better. I like to share the old stuff with my girls so that they can fully appreciate the full spectrum of music’s history (okay, we don’t listen to Baroque fugues and they don’t understand my fascination with Vanilla Ice and Young MC, but you get my drift) and not become little bubble gum queens. I like it that they get it, that they enjoy it and that it touches them in some way. I think that’s really the most amazing thing about being able to touch the masses – the art continues to affect people long after the artist created it and beyond the lifetime of the artist.