Tag Archives: music

The Cultural Music Preservation Society

We here at the Cultural Music Preservation Society, (or SHASTA, for short), have become alarmed at the number of really good songs from the past several decades that may not be preserved to drive future generations crazy.

First, let me explain the purpose of the Cultural Music Preservation Society. Our, (myself, and a whole slew of non-existent people), non-profit organization spends an annual 3.9 billion federal (“taxpayer”) dollars researching which really good songs from the past few decades should be preserved for decades to come. (This is not true. The federal government, outside the IRS, has no idea that I even exist, and could not care less which songs get preserved.) (The federal government probably has no idea that these songs even exist.)

In short, we are a society dedicated to the preservation of cultural (“really good”) music. This brings me to the point of today’s column. I have found that if the public isn’t informed by someone at least pretending to be associated with the federal government which songs are good or bad, the public will go about doing extremely public things like listening to really bad songs performed by artists like Michael Bolton or Nickelback. This may have been what happened to Iron Butterfly’s classic Sixties hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which was a good song, but unfortunately contained upwards of 14 minutes of drum solo. Even with the drum solo edited out, so the song was shortened down to less than three minutes, classic rock radio stations still wouldn’t play it because, without the drum solo, the song makes absolutely no sense. If every single person in a particular city called up requesting “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” one day, the deejay would simply make up a request for a more “reasonable” song. (“And it looks like U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel has just called in with a request fooooooorrrrrr… uuuuuuuhhhhhh… ‘The Monkees Theme,'” the deejay would say.)

I’m not saying that “The Monkees Theme” is a bad song. I’ll even admit that I sometimes sing “The Monkees Theme” while sitting in front of my computer, waiting for my brain to make up important facts about members of Congress. (“We’re the young generation, and we’ve got something to say,” I’ll sing, followed by, “I wonder if I could turn THAT into an important fact about U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel.”) Anyway, after long, difficult, and pain-staking research, we here at the Cultural Music Preservation Society have come up with a list of songs that we believe should be preserved:

  1. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
  2. “If You Go” by John Secada
  3. “All She Wants to do is Dance” by Don Henley

I’ve decided that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” should be culturally preserved. After watching various groups of people do the “Thriller” dance on YouTube — including a U.S. Marine, about 500 different wedding parties, an entire Philippine prison camp, and Darth Vader and four Stormtroopers — I started wanting to learn the “Thriller” dance myself, all 14,794,932 moves of it. You never know when it might come in handy, such as a spontaneous diversion during a mugging or hostage situation.

Also while avoiding any productive work by watching YouTube videos for “research purposes,” I came upon the video for the song “If You Go” by John Secada, whom I vaguely remember from the Nineties as having a name that sounds suspiciously like a type of insect. The video depicts an orange John Secada running down an orange highway to a yellow church where his golden girlfriend is getting married to a brown man, then it cuts to a yellow John Secada singing in front of a yellow car at an orange gas station. After a while, I found myself kind of cheering for John Secada, hoping that by the time he gets to the yellow church, the constipated look on his orange face goes away so she’ll see that she really loves him, and they can have little goldenrod children together, if the people staring at them angrily on the bus don’t eat them first.

Finally, the song “All She Wants to do is Dance” by Don Henley. It sounds sort of like what would happen if Skynet sent a group of cyborgs back to 1985 with a mission to terminate new wave music, so instead of trying to kill Sarah Connor, they formed Hewey Lewis and the News and released this song. It’s about a woman who could easily dance straight through the Third World War. If Godzilla attacked the local disco lounge, all she’d want to do is dance, dance, dance. If Godzilla asked her on a date, all she’d want to do is dance, dance, dance, and make romance. I feel that this song should be preserved so future generations will look back on us and laugh at what horrible songwriters we were.

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The History Of Music

Music has existed for as long as I can remember, which easily dates back to at least 500,000,000 B.C., when the very first Neanderthals picked up their clubs and beat them rhythmically against the heads of other Neanderthals to produce the sixteen-minute psychedelic hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

Some time later, God created the universe and nothing musically happened for a while because God sent His Chosen People to wander around in the desert being persecuted, and no one felt like singing about it since angsty rock wouldn’t be popular until the early 1990’s. Later, David wrote the Book of Psalms, (a Hebrew word, meaning “more than one Psalm”), which recommended praising God with instruments such as the “psaltery” and the “lyre,” which are, clearly, made-up words.

Not much is known about the development of ancient music directly following the Biblical period of recorded history, which spans from the Creation of the Universe through the End of the World. The Middle Ages were littered with wandering minstrels traveling the hillsides, singing ballads of brave knights and fair maidens until someone would throw a shoe at them and tell them to shut up. Eventually people decided to give various musical concepts names like the note, the tune, the tone, the chord, the powerchord, the bass, the treble, the flat, the sharp, the flarp, the scale, the rhythm, the timbre, the tenor, the baroke, the lute, the pitch, the whistle, and the electric slide.

Applying these terms and many more, classical composers spent the next four centuries composing music that, as near as anyone can tell, did not contain the slightest hint of a guitar solo. Instead, orchestral musicians would perform these songs using instruments with comical names like the “oboe” and the “bassoon.” (“Look at that oboe player! What a bassoon!”) Some of these pieces are still played to this day on that one station at the bottom of the dial that no one listens to because each song is over an hour long and followed by several more minutes of dead air while the deejay wakes up.

The classical period produced many composers with names like Fritzhanz Lupidus Van Halen II, and peaked when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Symphony No. Infinity” was bumped from its Number One spot on the Billboard Charts by Ludwig Kamikaze Beethoven’s immortal masterpiece “Symphony No. Infinity Plus One.” Toward the end of the 1800s, the pioneering spirit of the American West was captured with sweeping orchestral compositions that expressed such important aspects of frontier life as “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”

Fresh off the heels of the classical period came the big band era of the 1920s because people decided they wanted to dance to their orchestral music without looking like some sort of twit. Big band possessed an incredibly upbeat sound created by a rhythm section and about 50,000 horn players, or “hornists” as they’re called in the music world. Big band fell out of popularity with the onset of the Great Depression when nobody felt like dancing anymore.

Following the Great Depression, music split into two major categories: “jazz,” a highly technical form that borrowed many elements from big band except that you couldn’t dance to it, and “blues,” which stripped music down to its basic components of one guitar and a four lines repeated over and over. Jazz and blues combined to give us the music we know and enjoy today, namely: rock, pop, classic rock, heavy metal, dance, R&B, rap, country, folk, bluegrass, ska, punk, new wave, funk, synthpop, bubblegum, alternative, ambient, golden oldies, Motown, world beat, techno, disco, grunge, opera, nu metal, progressive rock, and the electric slide, none of which anybody’s parents ever liked.

Modern recording equipment, created in the early Twentieth Century by genius inventor Benjamin Franklin, who was already quite old when he discovered America and when he painted the “Mona Lisa,” makes the creation and distribution of music easier than ever before. Beethoven, for instance, only wrote maybe ten songs in his entire lifetime, and you had to lug an entire symphony orchestra around with you if you wanted to hear one of his songs, say, while you were driving. Modern artists can easily double that output on each album, and you can listen to it anywhere, whether you want to or not. By the time Benjamin Franklin invented the Internet in 1996, people had grown tired of the recording industry gouging (literally, “poking with sharp sticks”) prices and started “downloading” music for “free.” This upset a great number of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and deregulated the music industry, forcing musicians to compete by creating music that no sane person would ever want to hear, a trend that still continues to this day.