April 11, 2011

Culture watch: Love songs endangered

Mark Steyn's song of the week is Rogers & Hart's There's a Small Hotel. It embodies, as Mark says, something basic that seems to be dying out:

It’s not the vulgarity of current pop that alarms me (Katy Perry’s “F**k You” , Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect”), nor the crassness (Kesha’s “Take It Off”) nor even the grunting moronic ugliness (“Sex Room” and “Candy Shop”, the latter apparently a synonym for the former). I’m way beyond that: Driving around and roaming the dial, I’m struck, even in the non-effin’, disrobin’, sex-room humpin’ numbers, by something more basic - the absence of tenderness. The first quarter-century of rock’n’roll saw a diminution in harmonic sophistication and the discipline of rhyme but its practitioners inhabited broadly the same emotional universe as their predecessors. These days, as time goes by I’m not so sure, as I said somewhere or other recently, that the fundamental things do still apply. 
He said it in March 29th's Pushing Deviancy Up:
A hyper-sexualized society becomes, paradoxically, sexless, and certainly joyless. Listening in recent weeks to young women in both New York and London complain that the men they meet would rather look at pictures of them naked on the Internet than actually see them naked in the same room reminded me of The Children Of Men, in which P D James' characters, liberated from human fertility, find sex too much trouble. Eight-year olds with fake breasts are almost too obvious a satirist's fancy for a last desperate transgression of the terminally jaded. On WGN the other night, Milt Rosenberg and I were talking about popular music and the University of Chicago's approval of "hook-up" culture, and I made the not terribly original observation that a song such as "It Had To Be You" or "The Very Thought Of You" pre-supposes certain courtship rituals. If you no longer have those, it's not surprising that you no longer have songs to embody them: A love ballad, after all, is a kind of aspiration. So, if the fundamental things no longer apply as time goes by, who needs a song about them?
Read the rest if you missed it. When love and beauty go out of style, we're in deep, deep cultural trouble. Kids and young adults are the main consumers of this brutal, soulless music. Why aren't parents shielding their children from such poison? It should be among their highest priorities. If we can keep them from consuming ugliness when they're young, they'll likely reject it later on.

Back to the song of the week: Frank sings it here, Diana Ross swings it here.

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  1. Another tragic example of our civilization's long slow suicide.

  2. Man knows that he is imperfect. The atheist denies God, taking any hope of perfection from man. MAN WALLOWS IN THE FILTH, the corruption of sin. Poets express the disgrace in our culture. The f...in, feckless f...in is man's response to despair.

  3. Every newly begotten human being is a virgin, legally and morally innocent, the standard of Justice for our nation, whose sovereign personhood constitutes our nation, brought into existence by the will of God, the Father. The dignity of the human being as a virgin must be preserved.


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