Sunday, July 5, 2015

Seeing Stars

On the rare occasion I reach for Star magazine, I take perverse pleasure in not recognizing about 75% of the so-called celebrities featured in it.  I’m downright smug in my lack of current pop-culture knowledge, and full-blown snotty when it comes to the darn kids and what’s passing as their music these days.

Perhaps I’m suffering from early onset Grouchy Old Lady Syndrome.  Perhaps I just can’t relate to the here and now.  Perhaps I really just don’t care and can’t think of anything else to write about today.  All I know is this:  I can still sing every cut in order from Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog album but I cannot tell you the title of one Katy Perry hit.

In my day, our only connection to our favored famous came monthly through Tiger Beat magazine.  We prayed each week that a certain special someone could take time from his busy General Hospital schedule in order make an appearance on Solid Gold.  We bought albums, posters, and t-shirts en masse. It’s different today, however, thanks to social media.  With just a simple ‘like’ we can now connect on a supposedly deeper level with them.  Heck, even people famous for doing absolutely nothing have millions of Instagram followers.  It’s instant celebrity, and we the sheeple sop it up with a biscuit.  And then, in about 15 minutes, we turn our gaze elsewhere.

This lack of loyalty saddens me, but what really keeps me up at night (not really, I’m merely going for effect here) is the lack of attention.  It’s not our fault.  Those 15 minutes seem to be much shorter than they used to be.  The Man and his Machine are pumping out two-a-penny pop tarts and pretty-boy lip synchers at an alarming rate these days. Of course the kids dig it - it’s all they know.  It’s getting harder and harder to find something organic. We alleged-grownups  must be vigilant in exposing them to more.  It is with great pride that I report to you that my two fabulous nieces (ages 8 and 5) count Dolly Parton and Pat Benatar among their favorites. The credit goes, of course, to my ever-conscientious sister and her quest to provide her children with something not on the current menu.

We like what we like and we needn’t try to explain our preferences to others.  Nothing irks me more than snobbery, which is what I appear to be guilty of at this very moment.  Hear me out:  honing talent takes time, and the kids aren’t understanding this concept thanks to televised contests and viral videos. Insta-fame. Our fast-food mindset has permeated darn near everything in our lives.  We consume without thought, and yet remain hungry.

With that being said, I’d like to note that there are a few exceptions who come to us through the ‘drive-through window’ that certainly deserve a nod. Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first American Idol, has an amazing voice, I think, and I’m glad she’s etching a career for herself in country music.  The Spice Girls had some catchy tunes, and to this day when I feel ‘Girl-Powery’ I can’t help but chant ‘Well I tell ya what I want..what I really really want…’  And my hand to Goddess, if you make one disparaging remark against the Monkees in my presence, I will smack you in the gob. Especially if that Monkee is Peter Tork (I’m looking at you, Mr. Newman).

From 2001, older and STILL playing their own instruments. RIP Davy Jones.

(Side note:  I was part of the MTV revival of Monkee-mania in the mid-80’s;  I was not alive during the first go-around.  Just clearing that up…)

I guess if there is a point to my ramblings this morning it’s this:  there’s more out there - we merely need to seek it, remember it, and share it. We've got to let the kids know that they’re being bamboozled and getting short-changed in the music department.  If your daughter says she wants to 'make music', please direct her to the genius of Stevie Nicks.   Let her know that there’s more to it than the glitter, the gloss, and the marketing machine. Let her experience first-hand something real.  Let her draw her own conclusions, and then leave her alone.

                     Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
                     Can I handle the seasons of my life?

 I don't know, Ms. Nicks, but I am trying.