Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and other favorites

I don't know why, but sometimes listening to oldies ('50s and '60s) is like eating comfort food. While dressed in your most comfortable at-home schlub clothes. And snuggling with your (spouse/baby/pet/pillow/all of the above).

Whether it's any Beach Boys tune, Brit Invasion chart-topper, or jukebox fave, there's just something about that sound that makes me want to sing along, dance or cry.
Take The Tokens' immortal and endlessly covered "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". You will sing along. You will start dancing when the lead singer wails "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....aweeeamummawayyyy!!" And you will cry because popular music today doesn't deserve to be called music. Forget Katie Perry - if you want songs about California, listen to the Beach Boys. "Tell the teacher we're surfin', surfin' USA!!!"
I listened to Herman's Hermits earlier this week. They have such an odd sound; it's quirky, but it gets in your head. You know you're singing " I'm 'er eighth old man, I'm 'Enery, 'Enery the Eighth I AM!!"
Who would dare write (let alone try to market) a super-repetitive song about a four-centuries dead king? Or a song sung in high falsetto about a jungle animal? (I still don't really know what that's all about.) A surfing song would maybe pass muster in this day and age (see Ms. Perry), but still. What is it about these songs that moves people? Why are they still, to a certain degree, popular, even among those who weren't even born when they were first released? Why does music stir us so? Why can we at times communicate through music better than we can verbally? Well, I wonder, wonder, who...who wrote the book of love? (Shameless Gary Larson rip-off)

Don't answer the questions. Just listen. And sing. And dance. And be happy, for the lion sleeps tonight.

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