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The Sippican Cottage Musical Test dell’Acidit√†

Everyone likes what they like. They don’t know why they like it. They assemble reasons to explain their affection after the fact. It’s a weird form of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Because things happened in sequence, the first caused the second. With pop music, it’s a sequence of one thing. I like it. Fire up the confirmation bias furnace. Unroll your cart-building plans after the horse steps on your foot. He couldn’t do that if he had a cart in front of him.

I mentioned pop music, but music is no different than any other topic in this regard. Everyone works backwards. It goes something like this:

  • I like it
  • If I like it, it’s good. No way I could like something bad
  • If I like it, there must be a good reason
  • I am wise, so the entity that produced the thing I like must be important
  • Liking important things makes me more important
  • If you do not like what I like, it’s because you’re a philistine

I have never successfully convinced another human that it’s perfectly OK to like dreck. I have pointed out many things that are dreck to persons who liked them, but did not think they were dreck. This always led to one of two reactions, either of which resulted in enmity towards me, not the thing itself:

  • ¬†You’re right, it is dreck. I can’t like dreck, so I can’t like it any more. I hate you for ruining my fun
  • It’s not dreck. [Insert name of person with no talent here] is a genius, and [insert name of magazine here] says so.

The whole mindset leads to 50 year old men telling you that Motorhead is Mozart, and Camille Paglia telling you that Madonna is Moliere.

So, to make things easier, I’ve invented the Sippican Cottage Musical Acid Test:

If you’re from Liverpool, and your composition is played Santuario-di-Madonna-di-San-Luca-skiffle style by five Bolognese men a half a century after you wrote it, you’re on to something with your approach to songwriting. That’s as far as I’ll go.

I’ll Have the Beatles Bolognese With an Insalata Caprese and Seven Beers, Please

All my friends aren’t imaginary, but they are theoretical.

I live in a world of ghosts and shadows. I look for fellow travelers but they all seem to have gotten off already and I think we’re all Bozos on this bus now.  I’ll settle for people I never met and will never meet and shake hands in the electronic ether and be done with it.

Here comes the sun.

Sippican Cottage. Your Home for Bolognese Skiffle

I can never figure out if the world is wonderful or a dreadful bore. Whenever I’m feeling particularly jaded, I usually head on out to the Intertunnels and look for Bolognese Beatles cover bands doing outre versions of Liverpudlian rockabilly songs.

The fellow singing the McCartney part  in this video is Galeazzo Frudua. He taught my son how to sing the harmony parts of All My Loving, although Galeazzo might be surprised to know that.

Galeazzo and his charming coven of friends have been featured here before:
It Won’t Be Long
More Beatles Bolognese
How to Avoid Norwegian Wood Splinters
Hey Giuda

[Update: Many thanks to Kathleen M. from Connecticut for her constant support of my children’s efforts via the TipJar. It is greatly appreciated]

Hey Giuda

The world is a wonderful place chock full of interesting people. There are like, twenty-three of them. Maybe twenty-two. Anyway, if you poke around, it’s not 100 percent douchebags downloading navigation apps into their “smartphones” while walking into parking meters.

I’d be hard pressed to recall the last time I saw something truly new. No, really, I mean it. It’s been decades. Everything touted as new is a retread, and generally a degradation of the thing it copies.

Don’t feel bad about the smartphone thing. At least it’s a step up, intellectually, from jingling change in your pocket.

I remember distinctly the first time I saw a workable digital camera, the first time I saw Microsoft Office, the first time I heard the modem blast of dial-up Internet connection, the first time I had a usable cell phone, the first time I got yelled at by Nuvi, and the first time I played Doom. Nothing new has happened since any of that, and everything that’s tried to beat them has been worse. And Justin Bieber is just Frankie Avalon, except I gather Frankie Avalon knew how to sing a little; but I really don’t know, because I’m not that old, and I know I’ll never get so old that I have time to waste listening to either of them.

I like new things. Since there aren’t any, I just look for intriguing versions of old things. A roomful of guys in Bologna singing Beatles songs is intriguing enough, I guess.

[Backstory, previously on Sippican Cottage: It Won’t Be Long , and More Beatles Bolognese]


How To Avoid Norwegian Wood Splinters

When I was younger, I played music for money.

99.99 percent of the music I played, I hated. I didn’t care for the remainder, but I didn’t hate it.

We played pop music covers, mostly not current ones. We needed a lot of material. We’d attempt to figure out what people would want to hear resurrected, in advance. That’s tricky. We didn’t hang around in bars anymore –we worked in them. It was already too late to figure out what we should be doing by the time we were in there.

We’d meet in the slack winter season, once a week for a month or so. Everyone would bring in a handful of suggestions. We sort of voted  on each. It wasn’t  a popularity contest. We didn’t say: I don’t like it. I told you; I didn’t like anything. We said: It won’t get over; or it will. If it wasn’t unanimous, we didn’t bother. Unanimity didn’t guarantee success, either, but dry holes were more likely to be found in controversial drilling. That’s dreadful enough to be popular was a common assessment.

It was deuced difficult to get the source material into everyone’s hands back then. Before the Intertunnel, it was real work to lay your hands on music you didn’t like. For a while, I used to go to a store that sold 45s wholesale to people that filled jukeboxes. They’d have everything trite, so they were wonderful. But back then, I’d have to painstakingly figure out all the parts by listening to the records, and communicate it to the other fellows when we met.  It was hard work.

My son plays music all the time now. He can find anything he wants, immediately and without charge. He can get a really high-quality instructional video, too, never mind just the source material. YouTube is an enormously useful thing. The Intertunnel is an enormously useful thing.

Or not.

I have opinions. I’m a big, hairy man with big, hairy opinions. Most of what is on the Intertunnel is just opinion; ill-considered, ill-reasoned, ill-mannered opinion, and inelegantly stated. It’s useless. Services that exist simply to aggregate and direct me to various strains of this twaddle are so much less than useless, I may have to coin a term for it. Distilled twaddle. Twiddle?

The Intertunnel is the most useful thing I’ve ever seen. Because it has an editor. That editor is me. Without the editor, the Intertunnel is the most useless thing I’ve ever seen.

Good luck out there.

More Beatles Bolognese

(Galeazzo Frudua on YouTube)

My sons are up to around twenty-five songs that they can play together now. After dinner each night, my wife and I go for a walk around the neighborhood while they practice together in an unused bedroom. The plaster is falling off the walls rather nicely in there.

The nine-year-old is entirely immune to praise. If you tell him,”You played that really great,” he might say,”Yes, we did,” in his best Chance the Gardener monotone, but he’s more likely to start rambling about something he’s building on Minecraft, which is apparently what he’s thinking of the entire time he’s playing the drums. My older son teaches him the songs. They have become self-contained now.  I used to give the little one a lesson at lunch every day, but it became superfluous.

They use Spotify  and YouTube to find out what they need to know. Our children do not attend the public schools. I was amused –if that’s the right word — to read that the local schools hand out laptops to all the children, but are reconsidering allowing the children to fully use them for school. They’re thinking of blocking certain sites because the kids waste too much time there. Only a few websites, one being YouTube, were mentioned as needing to be blocked.

After all, what could an intelligent and curious youngster find on YouTube that’s worth knowing?

It Won’t Be Long

My son has to learn how to sing.

He already sings pretty well, it’s true. None of his musical friends can carry a tune in a bucket with two handles, and he’s had to sing everything he’s ever performed with others. But he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I have to help him.

I never learned to sing properly myself. I sang quite a bit in the last band I was in. I was awful all the time. Sometimes (rarely) people would compliment me on my singing, and the (very) odd person said it sounded better than my bandmates’ singing. What they didn’t understand was that I was just bellowing out a song they liked better than the others, and because the other fellows knew how to sing, and accompanied me, I sounded better than I was. I was of little to no use to the others when they sang. But I seen my duty and I done it.

My older brother taught me to play the bass. Later, I wanted to learn to play the guitar some, too. He told me to get The Compleat Beatles, and learn all the songs, and when I was done I’d be a guitar player. I never finished, and the book’s out of print now. Oh, well.

Along those lines, I know from experience that if you want to know how to sing, you just need to learn all the Beatles songs and then you’re a singer. It’s how my friends that knew how to sing did it. They were a Beatles tribute band before I met them.

First off, you have to understand that John Lennon had a bad singing voice, and George Harrison was a lot worse than bad. Ringo didn’t have a singing voice of any kind, so there’s no point critiquing it. George, especially, always sounded like he was gargling while being garrotted at the dentist whenever I could pick out what he was doing. And all that was before you factor in the scouse ladled all over the top of everything as camouflage. But.

It’s a BIG but. Those fellows knew how to sing. Someone must have told them to learn the Everly Brothers songbook, even though there wasn’t one back then, and they did. More likely no one told them anything and they figgered it out on their own. Paul McCartney has a pure, high-register singing voice, really rare. But you put it with Lennon’s odd and wonderful counterpoint and slip Harrison’s weird and effective croaking down low interspersed with a hopscotch up high, and it’s as sophisticated as Scarlatti.

Speaking of Italians, as I said, I had to find someone to show my son what I couldn’t: How to sing like the Beatles. My Google-fu is strong, so, I found the two most charming teachers in the wwworld — a world which encompasses both Liverpool and Bologna, of course — Galeazzo and Danilo!

True harmony singing is electrifying. It’s a form of audio alchemy. Disparate elements, perhaps not very valuable on their own, meld in something spectacular. I can’t recall the last time I heard it done in front of me. Good singing is rare.

*** burp ***

(Galeazzo Frudua on YouTube)

Tag: Galeazzo Frudua

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