Friday, January 9, 2015

“And I Hope We Passed the Audition”

I have no illusions that I am in any portion of the audience demographic who follows or purchases the music of Kanye West (I did NOT use the word “enjoy” deliberately), but I did find myself amused at the on-line hullabaloo which supposedly accompanied the recent release of his collaboration with Sir Paul McCartney.

My ears are nearly sixty-three years old-I wanted you to have that data point when I then tell you that I like “Only One.” Suspect neither Kanye nor I should be too pleased with that turn of events. That Sir Paul also lost his mother at an early age may have been part of the bridge of shared experiences that brought the two men together, I don’t pretend to know.

Do my sentiments in acknowledging the music of Kanye West remind me of a terribly tortured moment too many years with my father as he struggled to tell me he liked “She’s Leaving Home” from Sir Paul’s ‘earlier’ band, The Beatles? Yeah, it sure does. I open my mouth and my father’s words come out. So this is what growing old is? Well-played, God, well-played.

Except, of course, like everything around the world-wide water cooler, it’s never eaten as hot as it’s served, or listened to as loudly as it’s recorded. Because of who I am and how old I’ve become, I think I’m more rather than less grateful that this is what happens. Welcome to ‘Murika.

We cannot tell news from noise but if we’d been paying attention, at least we could smile knowingly as if we were in on the joke. Neil Postman, in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” published thirty years ago, forecast the American Intellectual Landscape in which we currently live (avoiding Newton Minnow’s well-known “Wasteland” characterization, but not happy at what he saw on the horizon).

He argued, suggests an article I am smitten with that those of us who struggled all those years ago with summer reading lists that had George Orwell’s “1984” were better served had we read Aldous Huxley. Let me steal an insight: “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Somewhere I hear the strains of Yellow Submarine, almost the perfect vessel to navigate such a sea. Meanwhile, long story even longer, it turns out we do know who Sir Paul McCartney is, and Kanye West as well. These are truly days of miracles and wonder.

-bill kenny

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