Easy-listening music and its maestros never had to worry about screaming teenage fans or long stadium tours. Ridiculed in the 1960s and since as “elevator music,” the gentle genre was marketed then as music for frazzled adults run ragged by the decade’s social upheavals, argumentative kids and rock’s blare. Unlike other forms of music, easy listening wasn’t meant to be analyzed or even heard.
The article discusses the origins of the genre, which might send you to YouTube looking for Paul Weston. I did. It’s almost indistinguishable from Mantovani. Or Mantovani is indistinguishable from him. This isn’t meant to damn the whole genre for Miltown-induced uniformity - I’m a big fan of the stuff. (Yes, I know. There’s a big surprise.) But there were some that did it better. The article name-checks Bert Kaempfert, whose “Wonderland by Night” fat trumpet warble drifted through the background of my grade-school years - distinctive, and not as somnambulant as others. The article mentions Ray Conniff, who must have been driven some people nuts with the wordless daba-daba vocals. Only a passing mention of the Jackie Gleason Orchestra, which let Bobby Hackett wander through a luscious bower of reverb strings. Gleason had nothing to do with it, but his name lent a certain boozy late-night mood.
This comment is notable:
Easy listening is what destroyed jazz for most rock-age Americans. This dr3ck oozed out of dentists offices and our moms' clothing stores - places boys hated. It was similar enough to modern jazz that the two became inseparable, at least in our minds. Rock music became chocolate- - -jazz became broccoli.
Agree with the first point, not so much the second. While it may be associated with dentists and stores, I also associate it with grocery stores, which were fun. In any case, I never connected the music with modern jazz. It was just that treacly stuff that tricked out of tinny speakers. Discovering the good stuff was a revelation.
Played it at a party a few days ago; the guest who was most impressed was 24. So there’s hope.
SPACE A pyramid has been found on Mars. This changes everything.
Or, it’s just a rock.
MUSIC Damned shame about James Horner. From the Times piece:
“Sometimes it ends up sounding great, and that’s what movies are about, but sometimes you work so hard on something, it gets so beat up by a film director about making every atom perfect and you hear it in the final mix, and you can’t hear any of that stuff,” he continued. “What was the point of getting beat up for a week to get that sequence perfect? It’s covered up by car crashes. It’s insane!”
A perfect example of that: the sinking of the Titanic. If you listen to the soundtrack, you hear this terrifying wordless chorus, rising like the voices of everyone ever drowned in the sea. It ascends as the ship knifes down - would have been comical the other way around, of course, but it’s harrowing.
Completely drowned out in the noise of the movie.