Friday, February 16, 2007

Does Sarcasm Belong in Music?

I've heard some artists speak of of the act of creation as a compulsion. "I had this thing inside me, and I had to let it out!" you'll hear them say, as if making a piece of art were an impulse of a degree of urgency similar to that of taking a good, but deferred, growler.

It matters not whether the art be good or bad. I imagine a similar impulse moved the authors of both Rodin's Gates of Hell and any random Hummel figurine. Inspiration strikes, the materials are produced, and woe betide any man who stands in Art's way.

In my case, I nearly never feel this compulsion. To me, the act of reaching over for my guitar and strumming a few chords is almost always motivated from something far closer to boredom than to hunger. Perhaps this is what stands between me and true artistry, I don't know.

This piece isn't so much as compulsion as an exorcism. "Somethin' Stupid" (the Frank and Nancy Sinatra version) came on an episode of "The Simpsons" one evening. I guarantee I hadn't heard the song since approximately 1974 (it superseded The Turtles "Happy Together" at the Number One spot in 1967, if you can believe that), but all it took was that one verse of it on "The Simpsons" to burrow the sleazy motherfucker deep, deep, deep into my brain. When I came out from under general anesthesia after my hip-replacement operation, guess what was there waiting for me...? That's how badly the miserable thing was dug in there.

As the ineffable Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) said during House debate on the Iraq Surge, quoting Robert Frost, "The best way out is always through." With this wise thought in mind, I set about expunging the mildly sleazy "Somethin' Stupid" by absolutely slathering on the sleaziest possible of musical touches. The cha-cha-cha beat has always struck me as sleazy to the point of risibility, and so on it came. What more Muzak move can there be than to follow a sung phrase with the same phrase played in octaves on a piano? Throw it in! A Nelson Riddle orchestral passage to break up the monotony? Check! Herb-Alpert glissando trumpets? Check! Passing tones relegated to the Mighty Marimba? Where else?

So brilliantine up your hair, throw a rose between your teeth, swallow those icky thoughts about a father-daughter singing duo belting out,
The time is right
Your perfume fills my head
The stars get red
And oh the nights so blue
And then I go and spoil it all
By saying something stupid
Like "I love you"
and let's dance!

Play "Somethin' Stupid" (pops).


robotslave said...

I believe it is customary in these situations to illegally redistribute copyrighted materials, courtesy of youtube.

blue girl said...

robotslave, nice windsocks shots at the end of that video! What was that all about?

Jeddie, your song was great! Wish I could do that when the feeling strikes.

I don't think I ever really knew that was Sinatra and his daughter. That's weird.

That was one of those songs that made me want to be a grown up when I was little. I always pictured I'd have cocktail parties and everyone would be cha-cha'ing around.

...I'd still take this song over anything by Justin Timberlake.

bobby lightfoot said...

1. Woah! There's actually a lot to be said for this.

2. Permission to overdub some ungodly duo vocals on this (Bush and Cheney? Dr. Devendra and Maria Callas? Katherine Harris and Dracula?

We go where th' intoxicants take us.

3. I did "Mayor of Simpleton" like this once.

4. I like how th' "true artistry" link hits my blog and there's a picture of a deep-fried chicken head.

The Viscount LaCarte said...


For some odd reason it reminds me of those George Martin instrumentals from A Hard Day's Night.

Nice work Ned.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Alvin and the Chipmunks cover this song?