Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones?!

While I am saddened to hear of the death of Davy Jones (sixty-five, heart attack) I'm stunned by how quickly the news reached #1 on the BBC's news feed.

In juxtaposition with Houston's death, Jones' life raises the long-standing problem of "what do you do when you reach fame by being a fresh faced kid and then grow up?" to which there are no easy answers. For every Natalie Wood there's a Matthew Waterhouse. Mickey Dolenz has successfully reinvented himself as an "adult" in entertainment, and I confess that I admire Wil Wheaton's evolution into maturity.

Jones seems to me to have floundered a bit here and there and managed to come out singing, but I'm sure the news feeds will tell us more all too soon.

Anyway, enjoy Davy's singing on Scooby-Doo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

women in their forties

I've read a couple of pieces lately which indicate that college educated women between the ages of thirty-five and forty are more likely to be married than high school educated women of the same age. Other articles have noted that thirty-five through forty-five are the ages when people are most likely to get divorced.

College educated women are more likely to remarry.

I've been thinking about what happens during these years in the last day or so because of the death of Whitney Houston. Houston, like Judy Garland, did not commit suicide, but certainly facilitated her own death through substance abuse linked with her own set of personal demons. Both women sought help, though I'd argue that Houston stood a better chance at long-term recovery because she came to substance abuse later in life and had a better support system around her, family and otherwise.

Perhaps inevitably people have drawn comparisons between Houston and Amy Winehouse; Winehouse died in time to fall into the "dead at twenty-seven" category that places her with so many other very talented musicians who died terribly young. I'd argue that it's the Garlands and Houstons we should look at more carefully.

Garland died at forty-seven, Houston at forty-eight. I think this is telling, and I've made a note to look for other women who fall in this category. For Winehouse and Hendrix we can say, "ah, how tragic, so young" but for these women the two additional decades produce more of interest. I'd also note that they both produced children whom they adored, thus "fulfilling" woman's traditional role. Did aging out of reproduction play a part in their addiction and demise?

Houston died less than a week after Madonna's Super Bowl extravaganza. I read a great deal of catty commentary about her age, most of it, I suspect, written by people who wouldn't last five minutes in her heels, let alone be able to dance through a twelve minute dance number. Madonna has always seemed to me quite canny. She's less of an artist than Garland or Houston, and I think she knows it. Certainly Madonna has filled her fair share of tabloid inches and has made some questionable choices, but allegations of excessive reliance upon drugs or alcohol are not among them. She stays in shape and, interestingly to me, adopted children when she passed child-bearing age - roughly the age of Houston and Garland.

I'm not claiming that motherhood is all that defines a woman and can keep her sane, not do I downplay the challenges to breaking an addiction at any age, but the contrast between these three women strikes me quite forcefully.

Oh, and for those of you who think Houston lacked talent, I present Whitney Houston's isolated vocal track on How Will I Know.

Monday, February 06, 2012

A Song From Your Childhood

For all that I cannot read music, I grew up with a fair amount of music around me - well, music composed prior to about 1960. I'm a killer with musicals and learned a fair amount of folk music as a youth, though my parents missed the Beatles, so I did, too.

My knowledge of Disco was limited to Sesame Street. Wait, bear with me.

The disco version of Rubber Duckie is, may I say so, a true moment of musical greatness.

Think about it. "Rubber Duckie" is one of those songs that can be reliably cross-referenced in almost any setting and people will know at least some of it. Even kids whose parents held nothing but rabid hatred of PBS and all for which it stands could not possibly have escaped life without hearing this tune, and that goes double or nothing if your parents are college educated and placed strict limits on your television viewing.

(I will never understand why I could watch wildebeests getting devoured by lions on Nova but not Mork & Mindy. I will never understand this thought process. I'm not even sure that they'd seen the show; it aired on commercial television and that was enough.)

The creators of Sesame Street for my generation recognized that parents, older siblings, babysitters, etc. would end up watching the shows, at least in passing, with the toddlers. The occasional "late night special" included plenty of nods to this audience. For one special, shot ~1970, the cast got locked into the Met for the night. (Just try making a show with that premise that post 9/11. There's not a kid in New York, let alone by isolated rural town, who would buy it.)

Titled "Don't Eat the Pictures" (a name later used by the Met for an exhibit)the story is a hoot and a half even to me as an adult. Cookie Monster sings: the title track , which I loved as a kid and still sing in museums.

Don't even get me started with Mr. Rodgers...

Thursday, February 02, 2012