In my last Gray Matter I began sharing some of the observations on music expressed by Bob Reed, a former Marcus resident, who now lives in retirement in Florida with his wife, Maxine.
Bob spent 25 years building and managing television stations and as an executive of PBS. He was also a tenured professor teaching the skills of TV production in its infancy. Meanwhile, he wrote scholarly works concerning these matters. On the lighter side, this Navy veteran is a proud grandfather who plays that happiest of instruments -- the banjo. But, as his wife often reminds him, the difference between a banjo player and a treasury bond is that eventually the bond matures and makes money. Hmm!
In my last column I invited you back so I could tell you of the conclusion of Bob's essay. I'm glad you've come and I think you will be, too.
He continued by asking about the quality of today's popular songs, "Is it all part of the decline of general standards? We've let language deteriorate…. A society that loved the written word loved intelligent songs.
"When our kids were young, we despaired", he goes on to say. "They reluctantly turned down the volume of their competing record players, each one blasting out the latest from 'Blood, Sweat and Earwax'. But now--amazingly -- they tune into some of the old standards. Our late-forties- something son and his wife have an 'our song' from the old days. 'Isn't It Romantic' was played when they took a turn around the floor at their first dance as husband and wife a few years ago. And the a cappella group our 50-year-old son appears in sometimes sings about love letters straight from your heart.
"Perhaps they and others have reached a stage in life where sentiment reigns and love is here to stay. Perhaps, as the Disney composer, Alan Menken recently noted, 'I reached a certain age and I wanted a cigar; at a certain age you're going to want a standard'….
"So, maybe there's hope. I hope so. For who's going to sing softly in some girl's ear when we're dancing and you're dangerously near me -- cheek to cheek? In the Marcus of the '40s we knew those two songs by heart as we swayed together at the Youth Dances.
"What will the shower singer of the future be bellowing -- 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah ?'
"Irving Berlin must have been prescient when, in 1927, he wrote a beautiful lament titled 'The Song Is Ended.' Will the melody linger on?"
I hope you enjoyed Bob's essay as much as those of us did who read it on marcusiowa.blogspot.com. It is nice having such a promoter for our town. He no longer writes scholarly tomes but has turned to delightfully humorous books. I'm quoting from a reviewer of one of those who says of Bob, "He thinks his very presence on this earth is proof that God has an unusual sense of humor. And he is certain that heaven is Iowa!"
I might add more precisely, MARCUS, IOWA !