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Dorien Grey

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Blogs by Dorien Grey

Songs
2/20/2012 6:05:56 AM
On the importance and influence of popular music on us as individuals.
Frequently, I will start a blog, get a few paragraphs into it, then wander off without finishing it. I put them in a special file, and go back and check them every now and then when I’m looking for ideas. I found this one, and see that it was indeed finished. Whether it was ever posted, I can’t be sure…by now I’ve published so many it’s almost impossible to go back to look for one specific one. I do know I’ve talked about music several times, so if this is indeed a repeat, please excuse me. So here it is:

The songs we like help to define us, and provide a fairly accurate picture of who we are as an individual. They are external indication of what lies within. They are also interesting for what they can tell us about not only ourselves, but others. You can, for example, pretty much guess a person’s age by the generation of the songs he or she identifies with.

I have never been all that big on popular music. Big Band songs of the ‘30s and ‘40s, and the war songs of the ‘40s provide not only date me pretty accurately, but paint a broad background for a self portrait. But after Glen Miller died, I just sort of lost interest in popular music. I cannot relate at all to most modern music, largely due to my stubborn insistence on lyrics which consist not only of words one can actually recognize, but that they be strung into something resembling intelligible sentences. I prefer to be talked to rather than screamed at. I know…I expect far too much. If a song contains a question (“Do you believe in love?”), thirty-five repetitions of the question within the course of 3 minutes is a bit much (My mind annoyingly insists in answering the question each time it is asked, since the singer obviously thinks I’m too stupid to catch it the first 34 times (“Yes, I believe in love.” “Yes, I believe in love.” “Yes, I believe in love.”).

Show tunes, however, are a different matter. (And I don’t think it’s for nothing that most people believe admitting to loving show tunes is tantamount to wearing a sandwich board saying “Hi! I’m gay!”) Show tunes are by nature often intense, and play deliberately to the emotions. So like it or not, I find quite a few direct reflections of myself in show tunes. (And I’ll save a discussion of singers like Judy Garland, the patron saint of songs to which gays relate, for another blog.)

I’ve touched before on specific songs with which I identify strongly, and which pretty clearly speak to who I am and how I see the world. Among the top ten are, without question, Edith Piaf’s “Je ne Regrette Rien” , Liza Minelli’s “Maybe This Time,” Richard Kiley’s “The Impossible Dream”. I’ve noticed that they all have the same underlying themes of defiance, pride, and hope.

With which song I identify most strongly, or which I feel tells the most about me, varies randomly from moment to moment. But for right now, there is no doubt. If you’re the least bit curious—and I hope you might be—, this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxUC_UcKFJK will tell you everything you could possibly know about who I am or how I view the world. (Note: If the link it doesn’t take you directly to YouTube, and you have the time, just type in “John Barrowman: I am What I am” in the “Select” bar...click on the second version.) It’s an imposition, I know, but it Like as I am sure every other gay man and lesbian, I am eternally grateful to Jerry Herman for writing what is in effect an anthem for tens of millions of people around the globe. It encapsulates for us the three fundamental factors stated above: defiance, pride, and hope.

The power of songs and music in general is far too great to try to jam into one short blog, and I’ll probably come back to it again in future. But for right now, we’ll let it rest, and give you time to click on the link above, and enjoy.

*****
Entries are posted every Monday, and I hope you'll come back. In the meantime, I'd be delighted to have you visit my website at www.doriengrey.com, and/or join me on Facebook. Thanks.


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