Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cal Thomas, Music Critic

Cal Thomas's latest article is on the media circus surrounding the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcette. And then he takes a moment to comment on Jackson's music.
Listening to the Michael Jackson tributes would make one think he had created something of lasting value. Some said his music will "live forever." No it won't. No one today hums Stephen Foster songs or ditties from World War I, or the Great Depression, which were better songs and understandable. Can anyone quote the lyrics from Gus Kahn's greatest hits? Somehow "Butterflies all flutter up and kiss each little buttercup at dawnin'") doesn't seem to have the ring it had in 1922.
Actually many people have heard a Stephen Foster song or two; and writers like George Gershwin and Cole Porter still have their songs listened to and enjoyed. Not to mention classical composers like Beethoven and Bach. Are Jackson's songs in the same category? Only time will tell, but I would suggest at least a few of them might well stand the test of time.

Also I'm not sure what Thomas means by Understandable; I've never had any particular difficulty understanding Micheal Jacksons songs.
Tony Bennett is a singer. His songs have a better chance of longevity than Jackson's because they are about love and relationships, which are common to every generation. Bennett and his contemporaries, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Ella Fitzgerald, are in a league far above the "pop" culture headed at one time by Jackson, whose biggest hit "Thriller" came before the younger generation was born.
Tony Bennet is quite good at interpreting other people's songs, I'll grant you. And a good entertainer. But I'm starting to think that Thomas has never heard a Michael Jackson song if he thinks he doesn't sing about love and relationships.

His larger point is that Celebrities are not good role models; something very few people disagree with in general (although individual Celebrities might be quite worthwhile people. I think his larger point that he never quite gets around to making is something about the transitory nature of our lives and the eternal nature of God, but, like I say, he never articulates it. So maybe I'm just reading into it.

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