DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Music, Words, Writing

My Motown Experience

The recent death of homicidal maniac/musical genius Phil Spector reminded me of my own Motown experience. It’s difficult to reconcile those two descriptors of Spector, but he clearly showed traits of both throughout his life.

My experience had nothing whatsoever to do with music. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket as the old saying goes. When it comes to words I stick to the written variety, for the benefit of everyone’s ears.

At the end of the class he asked us to, on the way out, take our papers back, take them home and cut out 500 words then return them the next week

Some while ago I was rushing to complete a contract. It was a longish piece I was writing. Starting as a university student, and to this day, I have always been economical with words. Term papers were exercises in counting as much as writing. Believe me I counted every single word trying to get to the assigned number. Others whined about having to cut and cut. Not me.

I had one professor who assigned a 2000 word essay on something that now escapes my memory. On the due date he asked us all to place the papers on his desk. He then went on with his lecture. At the end of the class he commended us for being on time. He then asked us to, on the way out, take our papers back, unread, bring them home and cut out 500 words then return them the next week. The result was a much better, more streamlined essay. A lesson that has stayed with me always.

Needless to say the – ahem – Temptation was to complain to Microsoft

Okay … back to my Motown experience. As I was writing the aforementioned piece, I figured I had completed about four of the ten pages required. I was pleased when I check the document details in Word to find that I was in fact at seven pages. It felt off, but then who was I to complain?

Thinking something was amiss I checked again and this time the number was five pages. Was I losing my mind? Had my eyesight failed me? Nope – it was just my pagination, running away with me! Needless to say the – ahem – Temptation was to complain to Microsoft, but as long as the problem was not reversed, I’d learn to live with it.

Standard
DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Media, Music, Nostalgia, Opinion, Wordpress

Bruno Mars, James Brown, Beatboxing and Train Whistles

James Brown

James Brown

Most of the music I listen to these days I find on various online applications that allow me to select songs and artists from the past. Accuradio and Tunein Radio chief among them. A bit of nostalgia no doubt, but frankly my ability to appreciate and enjoy music has been severely altered over the last few decades or so. I don’t want to sound like those old folks in the late fifties and early sixties who bitched about that ‘damn Rock ‘n’ Roll music’, but much of today’s popular artists are not my cup of tea.

In fact one summer day, with all the windows open, the local police asked him to stop as yet another petrified motorist had panicked and slammed on his brakes thinking he had somehow missed the flashing lights of some unseen level rail crossing and a freight train was bearing down on him.

Although I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I’m a great lover of music. But I have to admit that my music needs stopped being met at about the same time that blowing into your grasped hands was acknowledged as a musical instrument. I refer of course to what is called Beatbox, defined as a form of vocal percussion.

Not that I reject the concept out of … um, hand, in fact I have childhood memories of my father forming his hands into a conch-like shape and blowing into them resulting in a sound that almost perfectly replicated the melancholic whistle of a locomotive. In fact one summer day, with all the windows open, the local police asked him to stop as yet another petrified motorist had panicked and slammed on his brakes thinking he had somehow missed the flashing lights of some unseen level rail crossing and a freight train was bearing down on him.

But Beatbox is different. It involves putting your hands together sort of as if holding a harmonica, yet with a microphone instead of a harmonica, then making noises into this ‘box’ as if you were madly trying to free a large hot paperclip from the tip of your tongue. There are folks who can make this sound like actual instruments, but I’m still not convinced.

But the other day while waiting for a radio newscast I heard something that was like a breath of fresh air. At first I was leery knowing that sometimes great old  songs are ‘sampled’ by new artists. A few bars of a classic to hook you in, then zap, the new song takes over. Was it James Brown? Nope. The Jackson Five? Uh-uh. Some Motown relic that had just been unearthed? No sir. It was Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’. And it was refreshing. I Googled the song and watched the video. Then I watched it again. In fact I watched several of Mars’ videos and was so relieved that someone is still making music I can enjoy.

 

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Standard