Monday, January 21, 2008

Dancing in the Street

When I talked about music in my life recently, I don't believe I spoke about the emotional response that music provokes in me. It's most likely because music seldom does inspire that kind of a feeling in me. What that statement says about me I'm not sure. Whether it is my upbringing in a world almost devoid of music or whether it's some lack of feeling in me personally, I cannot say. Of course it is not totally true for I have been moved to tears by music. Sometimes inexplicably.

I've spoken before about how Send in the Clowns brought tears to my eyes for many years for no reason whatsoever and there have been other times when music has affected me emotionally. In the seventies, when guitars and modern hymns became part of the Catholic Mass celebration I was always moved to tears by a hymn we sang with the combination of a heartbreaking melody and these words below.

Hear O Lord the sound of my call
Hear O Lord and have mercy
My soul is longing for the glory of you
O hear O Lord and answer me

Every night before I sleep
I pray my soul to take
Or else I pray that loneliness
Is gone when I awake.

Why do I no longer feel
Like I've a place to stay?
O take me where someone will care
So fear will go away.

In you Lord I place my cares
And all my troubles too
O grant, dear Lord, that some day soon
I'll live in peace with you.

No, I didn't really want to depart this earth any time soon, then or now, but this did draw an emotional response in me every time. A sad one.

But what about joy? Shouldn't music bring joy into people's lives? It has often brought me pleasure but joy? I think one of the first times I thought about music and joy was seeing a video on TV, years ago, of David Bowie and Mick Jagger singing Dancing in the Street. I knew who they both were but didn't really know much about the music of either of them. But in the performance of this song, which neither of them wrote, I found a really joyful musical experience.

Some months ago I bought a CD, Best of Bowie and put it onto my iPod. This has become one of my favourite CDs and I play it at least once a week at the gym. When Dancing in the Street comes on, I seem to pick up the pace for it is truly an exuberant song.

However not everyone is so enamoured with this performance as this quote from the Wikipedia entry shows.

Although a hit at the time of its release, the record (as well as the rushed video) is not particularly popular today among either Bowie or Jagger fans. Many Bowie, Jagger and rock fans in general often refer to this pairing as Ja-Bo (or JaBo) a derisive allusion to the saccharine media nick names for celebrity couples. The term Ja-Bo was first coined by the popular rock music discussion blog, Rock Town Hall who in 2007 named this video "Rock Crime of the Century".

Naturally you can find this on YouTube so I invite you to listen to this performance and tell me what you think. A joyful experience or Rock Crime of the Century?


Sarabeth said...

I thought it was cheesy at the time and didn't like it. I stay away from labels such as the negative one mentioned

The Laundress said...

whoa, JMB, you just sent me off into a time warp.

Watched Mick and David vid with my 13 year old daughter. She giggled. I am still in love: damn, those skinny, limber, beautiful men.

She really liked the line "It doesn't matter what you wear..." because she was in hysterics over their hair and clothes.

Hmmph. What does a 13 year-old know? The camo jumpsuit is divine, the billowing pockets of Mick's shirt weirdly suggestive of boobs. Love these two androgynous se gods of my youth. Amazed by the spectacularly simple sets and raw production quality of videos of their songs...Heck, back when I was listening, never knew video existed.

Awash in Bowie YouTubes now... that will happily suck up the rest of my evening, thank you!!!

Vic, the Cariboo Ponderer said...

Another great post. I am not that musical, I can carry a tune to save my life. There are certain pieces of music that move me. I don't know or remember the names without hunting for them. I like everything from classical to rock and I like lots of trumpets, drums and loud. If I am going to listen to music I like the neighbours to hear it also!

Vic said...

I meant I can't carry a tune. LOL

Josie said...

Omigosh, was that really over 20 years ago? I always enjoyed that video, because you could see they were having a lot of fun doing it. That makes it very energizing.

Tai said...

Well...I'd never seen that video before, but it's pretty obvious they had fun making it.
And THAT makes it all the more fun to listen to.

Chervil said...

This is very funny, I hadn't seen the video before. It does send me back to a very long time ago - different age, different land - different me? Strange, how music can bring up a whole swag of long forgotten memories.

Julie said...

It's not that great, but it wasn't intended to be anything other than a bit of fun - I think Bowie and Jagger are wonderful and it's still a treat to see them together.

Sean Jeating said...

Music as it's noise related
is often not appreciated. :)
[Wilhelm Busch]

Carver said...

I like the exuberance but I don't know what I think of it. It doesn't strike chords in me. Your post was like memory lane for me in a lot of ways. During the days of folk masses, I sang and played guitar with a youth group in my church. We were from an Episcopal Church but performed at churches across our state and neighboring states. We performed in Roman Catholic churches and several other denominations, as well as Episcopal Churches. As far as music goes, in general, I have a strong emotional response to music. I like all different types of music but the common denominator is that music I respond to affects me emotionally. By the way, Send in the Clowns affects me emotionally too. Take care, Carver

Ellee Seymour said...

I love hearing you talk about your iPod, I really must get one. I certainly had my share of Bowie hits, we don't hear much of him these days.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel had a wonderful song which summed up David Bowie and his Major Tom-ness. :)

jmb said...

Hi Sarabeth,
You don't seem to agree with me about this performance but do you like the song itself?

Hi Laundress,
I;m glad that your daughter agrees with me. It is a blast from the past, is it not? The clothes were pretty funny.

Hi Vic Grace,
I'm pretty keen on lots of sound sometimes but other times not. Luckily you live in the wide open spaces.

Hi Josie,
I was amazed to see that it was more than twenty years old. I think it is full of energy too and that's why I like it.

Hi Tai,
Since it seems that the video is now out of favour, I'm not surprised you haven't seen it. I think it is fun.

Hi Chervil,
We do have associations with music that bring back memories. I hope you enjoyed it.

Hi Julie,
Although I really don't like Mick Jagger I did think this combination worked for some reason. It is a very exuberant song.

Hi Sean,
Well it was indeed noisy, but I thought it fun, even if some consider it the Rock Crime of the Century. I wonder what else would be in the running.

Hi Carver,
Those days were something else weren't they? All those modern hymns, some very good, some very bad, but sung with enthusiasm by the young people.

Hi Ellee,
I don't know what happened to David Bowie either. No new songs for quite a while as far as I know but then I'm not really up on that scene.

Hi James,
I'll have to find that song. You did not say if you liked this collaboration or not. Probably not.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Liz said...

Fantastic video and song, jmb. Now I see where I got my dancing style from!

I feel a post coming on ...

shooting star said... a black metal and death metal music buff...the dark tones of the genre is just so soothing to me at all times...sometimes it helps me to let go of my pain ..and at other times i revel in its tunes..they make me happier(strangely!!).......

Ellee Seymour said...

Long may you keep rocking on JMB and loving your music.

Ian Lidster said...

David Bowie is much more talented, intelligent and eclectic than many people realize And yes, music is terribly mood evocative for me, even Send in the Clowns, despite the fact I detest clowns and would never want anybody to send them in.

leslie said...

Oh this was priceless! I think they were just having a lot of fun satirizing the music of the times. But it does get the energy flowing and makes me want to get up and MOVE!

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

We used to act this song out at school.
Before it came out, I'd never heard of Mick Jagger.

jmb said...

Hi Liz,
It think it is a very relaxed fun style so if you can do that you are very fortunate. I have two left feet, myself.

Hi Shooting Star,
I'm sure I don't care for that kind of music but each to his own taste.

Hi Ellee,
I'm trying to learn to like different music, some successfully, some not.

Hi Ian,
I think David Bowie is a very interesting musician although he seems to be retired on the whole. Perhaps he ran out of ideas.

Hi Leslie,
I think it is quite fun obviously. I would dance along with them if I could.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting,

frankenslade said...

Hello JMB,

Nice blog you've got here! The members of Rock Town Hall and I (aka Mr. Moderator) are honored to have you refer to our tongue-in-cheek Rock Crimes post. I love the song itself, as done by Martha and the Vandellas, but I stand by my thoughts on the video collaboration. With a smile, mind you:)

What struck me was your mention of "Send in the Clowns" and other songs that bring joy. (I secretly love that song. I'll come clean here on your blog.) Here's the coincidence of my finding your post today: Just last night a member of our blog posted a thread about Songs That Make You Cry. He kicked it off with a track from Curtis Mayfield's last album. A few of our visitors have been comfortable sharing. I wish more would step forward. Feel free to check it out and jump in with your thoughts and a link to your own, similar post.

Take care!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Brilliant post, jmb. You are making me feel guilty about not having that ipod working! Don't like Bowie myself.

jmb said...

Hey Crushed,
I can just imagine schoolkids dancing away to this and acting it out. I guess you were pretty young when it came out so hadn't yet heard of the Rolling Stones.

Hi Frankenslade,
I checked out that post and it is interesting. I'll have to look at those songs the commenters mentioned.

It takes time to figure these things out but once you do you'll be fine. I didn't used to like Bowie but I do now, after all the album is a collection of his best.