When music was really music
It probably comes with age. But I really do not appreciate some of the “music” they are handing out these days. Girls Generation, Lady Gaga and the whole lot.
Once every so often, I go to YouTube and watch and listen to what have become oldies, my favorite being “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits headed by Mark Knopfler.
Experts in the area say Knopfler is one of the best guitarists in the world but I beg to differ. While I am not a qualified musician, I will tell you at any time of day that he is the best there ever was.
Among those mentioned as the best guitarists are Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck. There are different lists telling you different things but you have to watch it to believe it.
There is this live clip of “Sultans of Swing” performed in London, probably in the 1980s, and the song continues for 10:49 minutes. Do you know how long that is in terms of a song? It is like the 42.195-kilometer marathon multiplied by three.
And Knopfler is at his best, with a white headband and not looking too sharp, I am afraid, but the strumming of that guitar makes up for it, and much, much more.
I am old school, as I have always been ― not just because of my age (by the way, I am only 49 and counting) ― and I have tried to accommodate some of the new music, if you can call it that, since my children enjoy it and sing along all the time.
But if you actually look at music, like “Sultans of Swing,” the lyrics really carry a story and I used to stay up at night when I was young trying to learn the words because there are so many.
Dire Straits also have another of my most favorite songs ― “Romeo and Juliet” ― which really can make you cry as you try to memorize the words because the thing is like a book.
I have always loved music, although not the classical line. You could ask me anything about the music of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s from the Doors and Pink Floyd to Paul Young and Elton John.
Jim Morrison of the Doors wrote songs like “Love Me Two Times” and “Light My Fire” that are true classics, at least in my book.
Elton John just broke my heart with “Candle in the Wind,” one of the two songs he carefully put on his CD that was made in memory of Princess Diana after her tragic death in 1997.
Why am I not mentioning Michael Jackson? I should. He had a song called “One Day in Your Life” when he was very young in which he says “you are always waiting for the love we used to share” with his adorable Afro.
It is sad he has died because he was truly the greatest generic dancer in the world ― wasn’t the moonwalk just amazing? And many of his songs spoke more about his phenomenal musical talent.
There are so many beautiful and memorable songs of the past that I cannot name them all. Remember “Aubrey” by Bread? “And Aubrey was her name… God I miss the girl and I would go a thousand times around the world to be closer to her than to me.”
Even my children ― they are 17 and 20 ― give me a blank look when I start rambling on about these oldies but goldies ― whipping out the words ― and I really don’t blame them.
Do I have a right to say that the songs of old are better than K-pop? Absolutely. They had so much more “substance” than the light-headed tracks that they keep playing these days.
Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” ― the song he wrote after his young son died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of his mother's friend's New York City apartment ― touches you in ways that only the old ones can.
“Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same, if I saw you in heaven? I must be strong, and carry on ‘cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven,” words through which Clapton blames himself for the demise of his 4-year-old Conor.
And of course there have been some tacky ones, like “Sea of Love” by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. The lyric “Come with me, my love, to the sea, the sea of love” is corny, I give you that, but the tune is lovely and is a great romantic song nonetheless.
I could go on and on with people like Ray Charles with his “Georgia on My Mind” but that is going to take forever. But it is a real shame that they don’t play songs like “Yellow Brick Road” (Elton John) anymore. After all, God did give us John Lennon.
Jake J. Nho has been a journalist and a marketing executive in Seoul for over the past 27 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.