Do you have this experience, where you heard a song years ago and loved it, but now when you hear it, it’s kinda’ boring? Silly? The magic’s gone? How about a song you didn’t like when you were young, maybe because it was “old people” stuff and now, that you are old people, you find it beautiful? Or maybe a song who’s lyrics went in through one ear and out the other when you first heard it, but something maybe happened in your life and suddenly the words take on a whole new meaning? I bet it happens to you. It certainly happens to me.
This is what Fresh Ears is all about. A new look at old stuff. In this category, I will cover music where my perception of it changed over time. Where a song took on a new meaning. Maybe my taste changed, maybe something happened in my personal life and suddenly a song “feels” different. I also have a “special case”: I grew up in Israel. As a child, I didn’t speak English, so when listening to the great English hits, I loved the sound but didn’t understand much of what the artists were saying. Now, after many years in the US, every time I listen to one of those golden oldies, I have a whole new experience… “Wow, so that’s what the song was saying!”.
I will continue to add specific examples of this kind of experience. How about you? Tell us about your fresh ears experiences.
No, this is not about the TV series. It’s about real musicals. On stage. With real performers. Young. High school kids.
I am not usually a big fan of musicals. Not sure why. I sometimes like a certain song from a musical, like Memory from Cats:
(and I cannot avoid but also include Barbra Streisand’s amazing version:)
Or Don’t cry for me Argentina from Evita:
But I never felt interest in musicals in general.
Well, when you have children, you get exposed, sometimes reluctantly, to things you didn’t have much interest in. When my daughter joined her high school drama class, Daddy had to go to the performances. Reluctantly. For me it was a double whammy. Not only I had to go watch a musical, but one performed by kids? That was going to be one of those sacrifices that parents do for their kids. OK, I’ll sacrifice a couple of hours of my precious time and make daughter happy.
So I sat down with the family to watch (Ahm… Nap…) Hairspray
Two hours later I sort of woke up from a lovely dream, pleasantly surprised and amazed. And it was not a nap. I had been wide awake. As far as could judge (not being a great expert in musicals), the show was actually really good! Those kids were as good as pros. And the entire production was very impressive. There where dozens of high school kid actors, a high school kid band, great costumes, impressive stage props, built and operated by, yes, high school kids. A real theater, with professional lighting, sound system – the works. These people take this stuff seriously! I could not see any difference in performance and production between the high school production and a commercial one. In fact, I think a high school accomplishment is that much more impressive: The cast is so young, inexperienced and not career actors (at least yet). All work is done by volunteers, who do it on their spare time because they have to spend most of their time being students. Money is usually very scarce. The production must be relatively big, to give all the students in the drama class an fair opportunity.
The following year, we went to see Urinetown
And then, Nice Work If You Can Get It:
These experiences made me realize the great potential, hidden in people so young of age. At high school age they already show us – the “old” people – what they can do and how far along they are on their way to adulthood. In many ways, they are already there. I called them high school kids. They are really high school adults.
As you may guess, the latest in pop music is not my forte. I don’t follow much all the glitz of the latest star-of-the-moment (is it Taylor Swift now? I think?). Nothing wrong with that music but just not my taste. No wonder, therefore, that when I sometimes “discover” one of those greatest hits, the hit and the hitter are long forgotten.
The first time in my life that I heard (or at least noticed) Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, was about a year ago. Yeah, 5 years late… I kind of overheard it on a car radio and made a mental note that the lyrics were sort of nice but rather cliche. Dismissed it and forgot about it.
A few days ago, I attended my daughter’s high school graduation ceremony. The program included several songs, performed by students. The Climb was one of them. That was a “wow” moment for me. All of a sudden the cliche became so powerful. For an old, cynical guy like me, this was child talk. But now it’s not just any child, it’s my child, my daughter. What a different sound and meaning the song suddenly had for me. I could imagine my daughter standing at the foot of the mountain. She is just beginning the climb. So fitting.