Monday, April 28, 2014

Disappearing acts

This song here and the looped pictures - to be fair, the person who uploaded the song was under no obligation to offer any kind of slideshow - illustrate two ways in which things may be lost.

First is the presence of the song itself.  When I was a lot younger and the world was a minuscule bit younger, I remember this song being something of a standby for oldies radio.  Now oldies stations stay away from this kind of Eisenhower-era not-quite-rock 'n' roll material.  It's familiar in that it's a bunch of white people taking cues from black music, but the particular mode doesn't have any purchanse in popular culture as it is now.

The pictures also show a relatively unpolished image that's very much of its time and not ours.  Yes, the Skyliners do class it up in these pictures with rented suits and cocktail dresses.  Still, besides being - educated guess here - quite short, they look rough, maybe just having clocked off from their day jobs.  TV in all its mutating forms has changed the way music is packaged.


susan said...

There are people around now who, if they've heard of them at all, probably think the B-52s were a 1940s band. You simply can't call it 'oldies' when the majority of programming now consists of late '70's, '80's and even early '90's music. One of the surest ways to feel like your time has been relegated to ancient history is to listen to a radio (in my case, this is usually while sitting in a dental chair) and hear songs from my adulthood described as 'oldies' - then again, it could be 'classic rock'.

It's true that radio stations have always directed their programming at young people who will, presumably, buy more of their advertiser's products. I can't say I remember the Skyliners but they certainly are a lot more interesting than Justin Bieber. In future it seems likely he will have been to be far less talented than them, rented suits and all.

Ben said...

The shock of finding out that songs from my own youth had supplanted, say, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Beau Brummels on oldies radio came a while back for me. The truly insidious thing is the level and nature of the displacement. With the increased rate of media consolidation, the sort of past that is commemorated is both shortened and manipulated. This is, I guess, one of my standard bitching points. But it takes a certain kind of dedication - being either a nerd or a hipster - not to be taken in by it.

Of course I like the song, too, and was glad to have an excuse to include it.