A little while ago, a Facebook friend of Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba shared a post from a commercial site, peddling shirts that proclaimed, “A day without music is like … Just kidding. I have no idea.”
Now, since this friend is a musician, and a good one, YFNA had no trouble appreciating the sentiment. But, it started YFNA to thinking, and you know by now, dear reader, just how dangerous that can be. Of course, this ‘thinking’ business automatically disqualifies YFNA from ever holding electoral office in these Untied States of America, and that will limit the damage. But still …
A few minutes with YFNA’s favorite web search engine … which YFNA would name, but the company doesn’t pay him for the privilege of advertising the product, and he’s contrary enough to buck our longstanding tendency to transition the name of a company, that isn’t paying him to advertise it, from a proper noun into a common noun. Come to think of it, does anybody use a real Kleenex for nose blowing any more? I mean …
Right. Where was …? Oh. Yeah. Websearching.
[Ahem] A few minutes with YFNA’s favorite web search engine showed that there are lots of things that people are trying to make a buck from, proclaiming that they have no idea how to do without them. Prominent among them were …
Now, it just so happens that, without these things, nobody would be around today wondering how they could possibly do without them. Water is essential, but, in the ancient world, it was also dangerous. Don’t touch that water, son, you don’t know where it’s been. Societies that actually survived into the modern era did so because they routinely made water less dangerous, by boiling it (and then adding something to make it taste like it hasn’t been, like, boiled) or pickling it in alcohol. Got a hangover this morning? Cost of doing business, dude. At least you’re here to have that hangover. Have a glass of wine.
Yo. These days, our commercial masters have declared that nobody should be exempt from a day, nay an hour, with music. Or a facsimile thereof. Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba went bowling yesterday, and couldn’t hear the pins drop from the alleged music that was blaring from the loudspeakers and ten-foot video screens just above the pins that were the supposed main reason for being at this “entertainment facility”. YFNA did learn that Taylor’s not nearly as swift as she thinks she is. Neither was the bowling, but who could tell?
But what about before there were amps, and iTunes, and synthesizers, and Fender Stratocasters, and the whole mass media monster money machine?
News Flash! They were not piping hot new release Mozart into the entertainment arcades.
They were playing it live in concert halls.
And who got in to the concert halls? The ridiculously wealthy. And who got to write and play that music? The ridiculously wealthy, and those who made a living off the largesse of the ridiculously wealthy. A professional musician wishing to acquire a new violin from Antonio Stradivari could expect to pay a year’s salary for the privilege. Unless he [in those days, sic] got it as a gift in return for noble patronage.
Not wealthy? Aw, too bad. You got your music, maybe once a week or less, during major social events, provided by folks with rude instruments and voices, who got them out to practice and play only after all the rest of the week’s events (like, ensuring survival) had been done. And that, doubtless, showed.
Ooga chaka ooga ooga ooga chaka ooga ooga
[Hey. Wasn’t that a chart-topper for Blue Swede in 1974?]
Or, you got your music from nature. To which you paid attention. Not so much because the singing of the birds was sweet – even though humans have a natural affinity to it, because nearly all bird song represents warfare or the threat of warfare, generally over territory or opportunities to get laid, and therefore it’s close to the essence of the human heart and worthy of emulation, so …
[Ahem] To which you paid attention, not so much because the singing of the birds was sweet, but because the absence of the singing of the birds told you of the presence of a predator that could run off with your livestock, or your firstborn son.
Listening to the music of nature, despite the natural human affinity for its true meanings, is no longer favored. No profit potential. Therefore, Taylor Swift at 110 decibels in bowling alleys. And memes, printed on T-shirts, proclaiming how inconceivable, for the support of the market valuation of its providers, a day without music truly is.