My son is thinking of running a meeting of his youth group in the next few weeks. His theme is pretty broad: Music. Grendel appreciates my musical knowledge, so we're having fun working on this together. We've talked a lot about it, and we think we've narrowed it down to a history of popular music in the last 50 years or so. We've had to narrow our focus quite a bit to get something we think that he can fit into a two hour meeting.
Yesterday, we were talking about our need to narrow our focus even more and I said that I could easily put together a syllabus for a full semester college course on the History of Popular Music in the last 60 Years. He smiled and said, in all sincerity, "I know you could." It felt good to hear him say that. Really good.
In my early twenties, a friend commented on my diverse taste in music saying that such breadth meant that I really had NO taste. Bah! Fortunately, I let his commentary roll right off my back. I love music, lots of different kinds of music. I can easily listen to classical, swing, jazz, honky tonk, blue grass, folk, celtic, R&B, classic soul, reggae, rockabily, rock, surf, punk, soft rock, AAA, metal, hip hop, techno, country, and rap. Admittedly, I'm VERY selective in what I like in those genres, being particularly selective when it comes to modern (post 1980) country and rap. Even so, I like listening to music for it's influences, tempo, lyrics, and beat.
Maybe I missed my calling. Maybe I should have majored in Music Theory or Music History. Sadly, a PhD in either might have garnered me a poverty-inspiring teaching position. If income were not an issue, I REALLY think teaching others about the diversity, influences, impacts, and sheer joy of music would be a blast.
Back to our project. Here is our current plan. We hope to compile a CD for each decade from the 1950's through the beginning of the millenium. The first four songs would be the top rock and R&B songs from the beginning of the decade and the end of it. The rest of the CD would include some milestone songs exemplifying the styles of the decade.
We also want to do a CD of influences, covers, and parodies. This would include things like an original blues song from the 40s and the Elvis cover of it in the 50s. (Also, Alien Ant Farm's version of "Smooth Criminal", along with the original) As well as an original song and a Weird Al or Twisted Tunes cover of it (Think Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" verses "Constipated"). As the saying goes, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Or, our point is that a cover (or parody) shows the staying power of a song.
For example, the 1950's would include blue-eyed soul, surf, cruisin', romantic harmonies, greaser rock and sock-hop hits (including both swing and honkytonk inspired early rock). I used to be a big oldies nut, when 'oldies' meant 50's and early 60's. So, this one will be especially fun.
The most difficult aspect of this project is that we only have a week or so to pull it together, and we're limiting ourselves to one CD a decade, all of which can't possibly be played in the two hours alotted.