I was recently informed by my cable/internet provider that the company was going digital and that I had to have a digital cable box attached to every television set in my home, at a cost (hinted at but I don’t think ever specifically stated, $2.50 per month). I did not see the need for anything other than what I already have, and I certainly did not need to spend another $2.50 a month for something I didn’t want in the first place. Foolish me.
I now have a digital converter box for my TV, and will be spending $2.50 per month for the privilege. However, after all my bitching and moaning, I discovered that with the conversion to digital, I now have available, through my TV, 40 music channels. Everything to Christian Rock (one of my favorites, as you can imagine), through Jazz and Hip-hop (close seconds to Christian Rock).
However, it also contains Big Band, Standards, Light Classical, Classical, and Show Tunes. I guess I can afford the $2.50. So now I get up in the morning, turn on the computer and, passing through the living room to make coffee and let my cat out of the bathroom (a long story), I turn on the TV to one of the music channels...usually Show Tunes.
While I’ve not been really up on musical theater for several years now, and therefore do not recognize many of the songs, they also have all the classics from Oklahoma! on. They’ve just played a couple of my all-time favorites: “What I Did for Love” (A Chorus Line), “‘Til Him” (The Producers), “Somewhere” (West Side Story). Anyone who knows me can clearly spot a pattern here: I’m a sucker for songs which, to me, speak particularly strongly to gays. They haven’t yet played…that I’ve heard, anyway…“I Am what I Am” (La Cage aux Folles), but I’m sure they will at some point. And if by any remote chance they might play “Tell Me, Please” from Boy Meets Boy—a delightful gay musical that originated in New York and which I saw six times in L.A.—I will be a happy man indeed.
While the words “song” and “music” are synonymous, they are two pieces of a whole: “music” implies a broader and somewhat more elevated range. “Music” carries with it the signature of the human race as one of our finer qualities: songs are music on a smaller, more personalized scale.
Songs have significance to different people for different reasons. First, and almost universally, it has to have a pleasant melody, and second, universally, the words have to have some special appeal or meaning to the listener. Where one first hears a song, under what circumstances, with whom it is heard or with whom the listener relates it…influence an individual’s reactions.
There are a few songs that have a power which transcends its words and its music: “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” are perhaps the two prime example for Americans. Yet I doubt they have nearly the same impact on non-Americans. Such songs reach deeply into our national psyche and trigger powerful emotions we lump together under another powerful emotion: “patriotism.” Songs are often closely tied to specific times…World War II, the big bands, rock and roll…which become part of their appeal.
Your taste in songs…and in music…may differ vastly from mine. But the thing is that we each recognize its power to move us, and its impact on our lives. Play it again, Sam.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: